Senior Science Fellow DSM in Biological Sciences, DSM Biotechnology Center, Delft, NL, Honorary professor in Synthetic Biology and Cell Engineering, Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology, University of Groningen, NL (2006-current); MSc Biochemistry University Leiden, NL (1983), PhD Molecular Biology University of Utrecht, NL (1988), R&D scientist Industrial Biotechnology Gist-brocades-DSM (1988-current), member of several PPP in NL, EU, USA focused on Biotechnology-Engineering of Biology (e.g. International Advisory Board of GIM (Genetics of Industrial Microorganisms), SBE AIChE Metabolic Engineering Conferences, EBRC (Engineering Biology Research Consortium), Build a Synthetic Cell,.). Expertise in microbiology, biochemistry, genetics, industrial strain development, metabolic engineering, synthetic biology. I'm m currently working on natural product discovery programs, yeast strains and enzymes that can convert agricultural residues into bioethanol and various microbial cell factory programs for more sustainable production of enzymes, biochemicals and natural products, such as antibiotics. Another aspect is the development of both traditional evolution and bioinformatics methods for fast screening and safe engineering of desired microbial cell factories. At the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, my projects focus on the development of new cell engineering methods for filamentous fungi, to accelerate the discovery of natural products for – among other things – new antibiotics.
The aspect of my work that excites and inspires me the most is that Biotechnology can contribute in many ways to the big global societal challenges, as outlined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, by addressing key technical challenges and that DSM is in the position to make a real contribution. The fast developments in the Biological Sciences are both a constant challenge and a source of inspiration, especially the increasing knowledge and technologies to characterize, understand and deploy microbial life. Another source of inspiration is the necessity to do so in a responsible manner, which requires good education, relevant stakeholder networks, clear communication and continuous learning.
The breakthrough I would most like to see made in my field is the development and societal acceptance of genetic and other biotechnologies that enable simpler, faster and more predictable engineering of cells and entire biological systems. This will stimulate novel approaches and potential solutions to the big challenges that lie ahead for society, especially in terms of population growth, health, climate change, energy, raw material and food security and sustainable development.