Ron Plasterk on 2004 CSHL Symposium on Epigenetics: Final Remarks
  Ron Plasterk     Biography    
Recorded: 07 Jun 2004

There was a funny summing up by Tyler Jacks that was really nice. Well, this whole field of epigenetics is clearly becoming more and more relevant. It used to be like sort of a footnote in genetics. And now I think with histone modification—of course we knew about genome methylation a couple of years ago, but that was the histocode and now there’s a whole thing about small RNAs and how they switch on and off gene expression. And there’s clearly much more out there than just transcription and translation. And yeah, that’s a growing sense. This meeting was the right time to get an overview of that.

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.

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