Interview with Jeroen Bremer
Jeroen Bremer, Ph.D
University Medical Center Groningen, Department of Genetics
Groningen, The Netherlands
How did you become interested in the field of oligonucleotides?
I became interested into the field of RNA-therapeutics during an internship at the department of Dermatology at the UMCG. Together with Peter van den Akker and MarjonPasmooij, I started to work as an intern to investigate antisense oligonucleotide-mediated exon skipping as potential therapeutic approach for the heritable skin blistering disease, dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa. After initial in vitro studies as an intern, I started as a Ph.D.-student on the project. The project resulted in a thesis that shows proof of concept of systemic treatment in vivo and describes the path from bench to bedside. The thesis can be found on the website of the University of Groningen (//hdl.handle.net/11370/ced318be-babe-496c-81b0-81cb139a74d3).
Who were your early mentors and how did you become involved in OTS?
I have been fortunate to be part of a wonderful international collaboration between the university medical centers of Groningen (NL), Freiburg (D), Salzburg (A), and Leiden (NL). I’ve met a lot of people and learned a lot from all of them. In the field of Dermatology, my early mentor was my promotor Marcel Jonkman. In the field of oligonucleotide therapeutics, I must point out AnnemiekeAartsma-Rus. She was part of the collaboration and during the first meeting she brought the OTS meeting to my attention. Since then, the meeting has been a yearly trip. Hopefully, I can attend the meeting this year, and many years in the future.
Why do you continue to support the OTS?
The society is a great platform to meet all kinds of people. From industry and academic titans to young PhDs like me. The society stimulates to develop a network that is useful for the future and above all, the atmosphere is great!
What is special about the type of research/work you’ve done?
For me personally, working on a therapeutic approach for a currently incurable disease is very special. It is highly stimulating and there is a clear goal at the end of the line. Results of my PhD studies have contributed to the first clinical trial using the exon skipping approach for dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa. Currently, the focus of our research is more fundamental, as we are looking into biomarkers and optimization of targeting skin.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I love to play a round of golf. I started just recently but I am completely hooked (no pun intended) on the game. Also, woodworking/carpentry, and brewing my own beer are my favorite hobbies. When drinking a refreshing homebrewed India Pale Ale after building a rabbit house with my own hands, I could not be happier.
At the meet the experts session of the OTS meeting in San Diego, I talked with Mike Gait about oligo-chemistry. When we finished talking about oligos, Mike convinced me that scuba diving was something that I needed to try. In Colombia, I did. And I fell in love with the underwater world. Now, as a PADI Advanced certified diver, I plan a dive every holiday! Thanks, Mike.