A Personal Touch of Esmé Waanders


Please learn more about colleagues in our "Personal Touch" series setting employees in the spotlight. A light-hearted manner to learn about the colleagues you know and those you don't!.

This week: Esmé Waanders






1. Name & Nationality
Esmé Waanders, Dutch

2. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

3. What was your previous academic training, where did you study?
After a BSc in medical biochemistry and biotechnology at Hogeschool Enschede, I received my MSc in medical biology at the Radboud University Nijmegen. I performed my PhD studies in the department of gastroenterology and hepatology of the Radboud university medical center in Nijmegen working on the genetics of polycystic liver disease. For my postdoctoral research, I study the genetics of pediatric leukemia at the department of human genetics of the Radboud university medical center in Nijmegen. Two years ago, I received a KWF-fellowship for fundamental research which enabled me to study genetic predisposition in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, USA.   

4. What is your current function and what would you like to achieve?
I just returned from the USA and work as a postdoc at the department of human genetics. In the future, I wish to keep working at the forefront of human genetics and oncology research and I intend to establish my own group studying cancer development and predisposition in children. I strongly believe that the fact that young children develop a disease so typical for elderly implies an early developmental or genetic predisposition. By studying these specific cases, I anticipate to gain further insight into the general mechanisms underlying cancer development.

5. The RIMLS motto is 'to understand molecular mechanisms of disease'. What does this mean for you?
My own motto "You need to know the problem before you can solve it" fits seamlessly with the RIMLS motto and thus I take this very literally. I want to know how cancer develops. What is the mechanism of oncogenesis and why do some children get cancer and others don't. Elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying cancer predisposition will have major consequences for the clinical management of patients, the identification of persons at risk, and the development of novel diagnostic and/or prognostic markers and novel therapeutic strategies.

6. What is the biggest motivation in your work?
All my life I have been fascinated by the question of how our genetic constitution can cause and/or influence disease development. I would like to solve this puzzle and I hope to contribute to the improvement of clinical outcome for the patients. The brave and dignified way children bear their illness is very inspirational to me.

7. What is your dream for the future?
I have many dreams. I envision that genetics will become increasingly important in the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of various human diseases, including cancer. In the not too distant future, DNA will first thoroughly be analyzed before a patient enters the clinic: the 'DNA first' principle. As a result, the disease course can be predicted (including its genetic predisposition) and an optimal treatment protocol can be designed
from the very first start ('personalized medicine').

8. Fun-facts. State an interesting/obscure fact about yourself together with two
that are false? Correct answer will be revealed to readers in the subsequent edition.
A: I directed a short movie
B: I produced a rock opera
C: I wrote a novel


Correct answer of Paul de Laat: B

State an interesting/obscure fact about yourself together with two that are false?
A: Paul is big fan of the Island Ameland, plays hockey and is a referee in the national soccer league
B: Paul is big fan of the Island Texel, plays tennis and is a judge in national elite gymnastics
C: Paul is big fan of the Island Kreta, plays soccer and is a judge in international ice skating



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