Dr. Plasterk is well known in the Netherlands for his successful career in science as well as his former function as a prominent Dutch politician. Currently Plasterk works as chief scientific officer for myTomorrows, a company that aims to facilitate access to medicines still in development for patients.
Plasterk first developed an interest in science during secondary school. He followed up on this interest by studying biology at Leiden University. Here he first obtained his MSc Cum Laude, while simultaneously graduating for his propedeuse in economics, and later his PhD degree in Mathematics and Natural Sciences. During his doctoral studies he also was a member of the Leiden city council, which can be seen as the start of his political career.
Plasterk has applied his scientific knowledge and skills to a broad variety of fields, his main field of interest being molecular microbiology and genetics. He focused on both fundamental research and the application of it in positions ranging from research and institute director to professor. During his successful scientific career he has won multiple prizes including the Spinoza Prize by the NWO in 1999. During all this he communicated his (scientific) findings and the related ethical and political aspects to the general public through several national publications.
Plasterk was appointed Minister of Education, Culture and Science in 2007. His focus points included (scientific) education, research, culture and media. Upon resigning from his ministerial position in 2010 he served as a member of the House of Representatives for several years, followed up by his serving as Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations until October 2017. After this he decided to move back to the field of biological research. He now works as the head of scientific research operations for the company myTomorrows. Their aim is to help patients who have exhausted all other treatment options with information and access to medicines that have not completed the long development trajectory yet. One such emerging medical field is that of personalized medicine. Plasterk is currently exploring the possibilities of these treatments and will focus on this subject in his talk at the Symposium.