Dr R.H.A. Plasterk (1957) has been appointed professor Novel strategies for access to therapeutics at the Medical Faculty of the University of Amsterdam (Amsterdam UMC). He will combine his chair with the function of Chief Scientific Officer at the company myTomorrows. Before Plasterk went into politics he was a professor Molecular Genetics at the AMC-UvA.
Ronald Plasterk is a molecular biologist, specialized in functional genomics. As a researcher he was part of the transition from reading ('sequencing') and functionally studying individual genes to large-scale genomics, which allows the complete genome of a person (or a tumour, for example) to be sequenced within weeks. His specific interest is in how the vast quantity of information acquired in this way can be usefully applied in medical practice.
Three trends put pressure on the current system of access to new medicinal drugs: the modern citizen who wants to determine his or her own fate, the broad availability of recent information via the internet, and the growing body of DNA-data of individual patients (and their diseased tissues). If classic randomised controlled trials are not the only way to provide personalised access to therapeutics, what are alternative roads to access? How can efficacy be determined? These are the kinds of questions Plasterk will submit to scientific enquiry as professor. He will also contribute to the curriculum and supervise students who study early access to therapeutics, or genome-based personalized medicine.
Since December 2017 Plasterk has been Chief Scientific Officer of myTomorrows, a company that mediates between patients, doctors, regulators and biotech/pharma about early access to new medication. Plasterk was minister of the Home Office and Kingdom Relations in the 2013-2017 cabinet and minister of Education, Culture and Science in the 2007-2010 cabinet; between these two periods he was a member of parliament. Before Plasterk went into politics he held professorships in Molecular Genetics at the AMC-UvA, Developmental Genetics at the University of Utrecht and Microbiology at VU University Amsterdam, and was director of the Hubrecht Institute of the KNAW. Plasterk is member of the KNAW (the Royal Society of Sciences of the Netherlands), and won the Spinoza-award of the Netherlands Science Foundation (NWO) in 1999.