Ron Plasterk on Future Career Moves
  Ron Plasterk     Biography    
Recorded: 07 Jun 2004

You stay in the romantic phase and you can’t force romance, so you have to sort of wait and see what comes up. I think by now I’ve learned that you shouldn’t worry too much. They once asked the chess player, Capablanca, who was a world champion from Cuba, How many moves do you think ahead? And he said, Well, only one but it’s always the good move. I don’t really think that I can do that but I wish I could. But I think that is the way to do science, you don’t plan too far ahead. You just try to solve the things you do right now and keep a little bit of an open eye and then it’s a balance, because if you see something unexpected you can’t chase everything so you need to have a little bit of intuition and luck in chasing the right thing when you meet them. It’s like walking around in a swamp maybe, where you can sort of see a little bit ahead of you, but not too far so you have to sort of put some feelers out and sometimes step back and go the other way.

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