Ron Plasterk on CSHL: C. elegans Course
  Ron Plasterk     Biography    
Recorded: 07 Jun 2004

Now since then [mid 1980s) I’ve been back many times to meetings and to symposia. Actually I’ve been teaching courses here. I started the worm course here, the C. elegans course with Michael Hengartner and Eric Jergenson, which was a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun.

And I must say that one of the good things of Cold Spring Harbor is that it’s very loyal to people who have done things for the place. If I come back now—I think there’s probably, I don’t know how it works, there is probably a system where the computer keeps track of how often you’ve taught a course and you go up and, actually when I came here, initially, we had the courses in the winter slot, which is two weeks and it’s raining. So if you do well you go to the summer slot, where it’s three weeks and it’s sunny. So they asked that, and I said, well, I can’t do it because I have a family with kids, summer holidays. So he said, “Why don’t you bring the family?” And we did that four years ago, I guess. So my youngest was eight years old. We get out of the terminal and there’s a guy, the driver, waiting for us, actually wearing a uniform, he was a black man with white hair, very impressive. He had a hat and was in uniform and he said, “Sir, let me take you to your car.” It was like in a movie, right? And we walked over to the parking lot and the kids were, this is America, which they had never seen. And my youngest saw the stretch limo, he had never seen a stretch limo before. He said, “Oh, you have to be very rich to be in a car like that, right, Dad?” And, of course, this is the car they sent. So we were there in this stretch limo with a fridge in the back and they thought this was the greatest thing. So I guess that they do that on purpose. That if, you know, if you’ve been there very often and worked hard for that course they know that this is going to be appreciated.

Ronald Plasterk, is a Dutch politician of the Labour Party and successful scientist and molecular genetics. He studied biology at the Leiden University and economics at the University of Amsterdam. In 1981 he received the Dutch doctorandus degree in biology. In 1984 he earned a doctorate in mathematics and natural sciences from the University of Leiden.

After receiving his Ph.D. he moved to California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and worked as a post-doc (1985-1986) on the transposon sequences in DNA in the parasite Borrelia hermsii. Plasterk was also a post-doc at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge (1986-1987) where he studied Caenorhabditis elegans, a nematode that is used as a model organism. His major area of research include genetics and functional genomics.

He came back to the Netherlands in 1987 and became a group leader and member of the board of the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. Between 1989 and 2000 he was director of the research school of oncology at the institute. From 1997 till 2000 he was professor of molecular genetics at the University of Amsterdam. In 2000 was appointed director of the Netherlands Institute for Developmental Biology (Hubrecht Laboratory) and at the same time he was a professor in developmental genetics at Utrecht University.

In February 2007 Ronald Plasterek was appointed minister of Education, Culture and Science in the fourth Balkenende government and he decided to end his scientific career. He held this position until February 2010. He is a member of the House of Representatives and Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

More Information: Wikipedia