Ron Plasterk on Jim Watson, First Impressions
  Ron Plasterk     Biography    
Recorded: 07 Jun 2004

Probably my first impression of Jim Watson was reading The Double Helix. That’s of course a book that many people have read. I read that as a probably first year university student and I was really won over by it because it shows that science is done by people. It’s full of humor. It gets across this feeling that actually on the one hand of course they are trying to do their very best. There is this scene where he is going to a bar and saying, “I think we just discovered the basis of life” or something. He’s really going over the top there. But on the other hand, they are just normal people. At least my reading of it was that this was a world that I could see myself living, participating, so there was none of this stuff where it seemed like it was impossible to do that. I liked the book a lot.

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