We interviewed Rob and here are some of the questions we did so you can get to know him better.
First of all; ever since my first EHA meeting I felt so welcome and accepted. Who does not want to be part of that? Secondly, HD connects us all; it does not stop at borders. And I have noticed that if we work together we can make life easier for so many people. The flip side of that is that there are many people that do not yet receive the amount of information, support, and care they could get.
Being part of EHA’s board allows me to work on this and be part of the solution (rather than just observing the problem). Moreover, with my scientific background I can be a good intermediary and translate science to those who do not have this background. And this communication is in the current times, with many companies working on treatments and failures that go with it, very important!
Born, raised, and based in the Netherlands, married to Alina and proud father of Alexander. I am a chemist by training and I did a PhD in pharmaceutical analysis. After that, I had an academic career of about 12 years. In my last university position, I was an assistant professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Here I did research into the structure and quality of large molecules, mainly pharmaceuticals. I also taught chemistry, clinical chemistry, and pharmaceutical analysis.
Recently, I decided to move into the pharmaceutical industry. I now work for a gene therapy company that focuses on developing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, like HD. Here, I lead the team that is responsible for translational biology. We use different models and tests to determine whether treatments are effective and can be translated to humans.
I am a HD gene carrier, as are my mom, my late grandmother, and many other members of my family. Safe to say, I grew up with HD. I am a board member of the Dutch HDA, Dutch Rare Disease Council, member of HD-CAB, and member of the steering committee of Roche’s tominersen studies. In the Netherlands I focus on youth and science, as two separate topics (but also together).
Outside the Netherlands I was already liaising with EHA to ensure that we actively contribute to European projects, that needed connections are made and knowledge is shared. Besides that I try to raise awareness by doing public speaking/writing about HD.