A Personal Touch of Ralph Slijkerman

Slijkerman, Ralph.jpg

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: Ralph Slijkerman 






1. Name & Nationality
Ralph Slijkerman, Dutch

2. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
Throughout my childhood (and also a little bit after that) I was intrigued by cars and trucks. As a child I wanted to be in charge of these mighty machines, so my dream was to be a truckdriver.

3. What was your previous academic training, where did you study?
My academic training started in the summer of 2008 at our Radboud university. After finishing highschool, I moved to Nijmegen and started the bachelor- and masterstudy ‘molecular life sciences’. During the last part of my studies I mastered the practical skills to work in a laboratory via two internships, the first one in the RIMLS and for the second one I went abroad. During seven months I worked in Aarhus (Denmark), an experience I recommend to everyone!

4. What is your current function and what would you like to achieve?
Currently, I work as a Ph.D. student in the lab of Hannie Kremer and Erwin van Wyk. We are interested in the pathogenesis underlying the most prevalent form of deaf- blindness, the Usher syndrome. You can imagine that losing both hearing and vision has quite an impact on your daily life! My Ph.D. project is aimed at (1) unraveling the 'Usher interactome' signaling cascade and (2) (trying) to develop a therapy for these patients. By using the zebrafish we are able to model Usher mutations in a very physiologically similar environment as compared to human eyes. Ongoing efforts now is try to confirm our promising preclinical therapeutic results in vitro to the in vivo situation as modeled in our zebrafish.

5. The RIMLS motto is 'to understand molecular mechanisms of disease'. What does this mean for you?
The RIMLS’s motto perfectly describes what we are currently researching. On one side we try to gain more knowledge on the molecular signaling cascades of Usher proteins and on the other side we try to use the available knowledge on protein level to see if we can manipulate the diseased Usher protein(s) into (reduced) functional ones by excluding the mutated site.

6. What is the biggest motivation in your work?
Curing patients. Although this might seem far future for many research projects, we so far have encouraging preclinical results. In combination with meeting Usher patients or for example the recent Dutch documentary 'De kleine wereld van Machteld Cossee', you really feel the urge to help these people with the most we can: researching a therapy. Additionally, it would be great if my four year Ph.D. research creates a gain of knowledge impacting both Usher patients ánd researchers around the world.

7. What is your dream for the future?
It would be very cool if we could further develop the promising current preclinical data via successful clinical trials into a 'real' therapy for patients! Next to that, I hope that also after finishing my Ph.D. (which is also a dream for now!) I can continue with producing knowledge and products to help the world and our society forwards!

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 cycle to work every day regardless of the weather, like a true Dutch person.
B: I have visited five of the seven continents on our world.
C: I always sing a song to our zebrafish in order to increase the amount of eggs they spawn.

Correct answer will be revealed to readers in the subsequent edition.


Correct answer of Mieke Roeven: B

A: I have owned 5 gold fishes, but they never survived longer than 4 weeks
B: I have played hockey for seven years, but I never scored a goal
C: I danced salsa but broke my ankle during the first performance

State an interesting/obscure fact about yourself together with two that are false.

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