A new member has joined the Astherna team! Winni Schalkwijk is the first employee of Astherna, and fulfills the function of ‘Clinical Research Assistant’. Winni will mainly work on the design and preparation of the clinical trials, but will also take on preclinical development tasks. This is our first step in expanding our team, so we together can carry out all the activities required for the next steps in the development of our RNA therapies.
Can you introduce yourself?
“I’m a recently graduated nutrition scientist, with a strong interest in biomedical research and innovative ways to benefit our health. I’ve obtained both my BSc and MSc degree in ‘Nutrition and Health’ at the Wageningen University. Although the connection between nutrition and my current position at Astherna might not be obvious, I do think that I’ve learned a lot during my studies which I can apply as a Clinical Research Assistant. In the end, there is a fine line between food and drugs. This allows for many similarities between the fields of nutrition sciences and pharmaceutical research. For example, the approach in nutritional pharmacology and food toxicology, is quite alike the methodology of similar studies in the context of drug development.”
“In the end, there is a fine line between food and drugs […] This allows for many similarities between the fields of nutrition sciences and pharmaceutical research”
Why did you apply for the position of Clinical Research Assistant?
“I was looking for an opportunity to further develop my skills and knowledge in research, and the uniqueness of this position appealed to me. Where else can you -as a beginning researcher- be part of a small team with true experts in the field? In a large company, you might only work on one aspect of this whole drug development chain, whereas I am currently working on so many different tasks. It feels like a great learning opportunity. I must say that my motivation also related to the fact that I felt really positive about the rest of the team. It also feels like a privilege to work on something that could truly make an impact on peoples’ lives: novel therapies to prevent vision loss. That really adds a lot.”
How have you experienced you first months at Astherna?
“It has been quite intense, to be honest, but also very nice. There were a lot of new things to learn and knowledge to obtain, since I didn’t have any experience with drug development. I have, however, felt supported by the fact that we work on everything as a team, figuring out all the new stuff together. And there’s a lot of expertise already in Astherna’s network, which I can learn from. I also appreciate the fun moments we have on the days we all work at our office. The work ambiance is very pleasant.”
What do you like to do in your spare time?
“It will not come as a surprise, but I love to cook. And eat, together with family or friends. I also very much like to spend time being active outdoors; going for a walk or further exploring ‘de Veluwe’ by mountainbike. I recently said goodbye to a wonderful time of playing the saxophone in a student band, but I still like to make music by myself.”
“In a large company, you might only work on one aspect of this whole drug development chain, whereas I currently am working on so many different tasks. It feels like a great learning opportunity”