Remko van Vught
This interview is part of a series of conversations with the people working at Mimetas. The 'I' in MIMETAS focuses on the personal side of the people who drive our world. Today we have a chat with Remko van Vught, Vice President Business Development at MIMETAS.
As the Vice President of Business Development, what does your average day working at MIMETAS look like?
At MIMETAS I’m responsible for research collaborations and partnerships. My typical workday revolves around fostering client relationships and driving strategic initiatives. This includes calls with collaborators from all over the world to discuss new exciting research projects, as well as internal meetings with Biology, R&D, Hardware and other teams, to tackle a focused research question or partnership to discover novel therapeutics.
What makes my role particularly enjoyable is the international aspect of it. I have the privilege of interacting with individuals from diverse cultures, which brings a new dynamic to my work. It’s intriguing to observe how people from different backgrounds navigate communication and their needs. In the end, I want to discuss science with the outside world effectively.
If you could send a message to yourself 10 years ago, what would you tell the younger you?
I’ve always considered myself to be a bit of a risk-averse person in certain situations. Nevertheless, there are times when stepping out of your comfort zone becomes essential. 10 years ago, I had just finished my PhD I found myself at a crossroads, uncertain about the next steps in my career. During that period, I would tell myself to follow my passion wholeheartedly, and enjoy the ride along the way. You’ll end up in a place where you’re supposed to be.
The best thing about this message is that I know I’ve truly followed my passion. I am very happy and content with where I ended up and what I am doing right now.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during your professional career?
When I was younger and was contemplating my academic path, my initial ambition was to study medicine. However, when this did not work out, I decided to go for a program focused on molecular life sciences. The aim was to position myself for a potential role in a pharma company in the Netherlands. Once I finished that degree, I realized that I needed a PhD to engage in the kind of science that truly interested me. This prompted me to explore other opportunities for my career. Interestingly, I've since discovered that I am still following the essence of my original career path – the desire to contribute to medicine and the pharmaceutical industry. While the route I've taken has certainly been different and not a direct path from medicine to pharmaceuticals, my daily work revolves around collaborating with various pharmaceutical clients to enhance the development of better medicines. It's this commitment to improving healthcare that is still consistent with my initial intent.
Therefore, a key lesson I have taken out from my journey thus far is that sometimes you don’t always see a clear path towards what you want to become or achieve. In the beginning, the path may be uncertain. However, through persistence and motivation, you will get there, even if it takes unexpected detours. In hindsight, you almost always realize that you forged your own unique path and found your way regardless.
What is a motto you live by?
A guiding motto I live by is “Driven by (scientific) curiosity.”
While it may not fit the traditional definition of a motto, curiosity has always been my driving force. In my day-to-day life, I’m always eager to understand how things work in the world, whether it’s as simple as how a stapler works or how a gas nozzle stops at the gas station. This innate curiosity expands to a general scientific curiosity of mine. Decades ago, we tried to understand genetics and the basis of how humans work. Today, we’ve gained unprecedented insights into our questions, yet many more questions come up in turn.
An amusing observation I‘ve recently made, is that I’ve also started seeing this trait in my children. They too, are starting to explore the “why” and “how” behind things. Why some objects float and others not, resulting in doing experiments at the kitchen table together.
MIMETAS has achieved significant milestones over the past decade. Which milestone do you resonate with the most, and why?
For me, the most significant milestone would have to be our partnership with Astellas. This achievement is the result of a collaborative effort that dates back to 2016 and is special because of its evolution over time. Initially, Astellas started by evaluating our technology and products. Not long after, we initiated our first research collaboration on kidney models which was later published. The project formed the basis for a longstanding relationship that enabled many more projects around specific research questions. This journey reflects our collective commitment to pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the field. The moment we formally solidified the partnership earlier this year was undeniably rewarding. It’s amazing when you find collaborators who share our belief in advanced, human-relevant modeling. Together, we are driven by a shared purpose to effect change and make a meaningful impact in patients’ lives.
This is exactly what MIMETAS strives to be and stand for as a company. We build on trust and a common goal to develop novel treatments. Our journey with Astellas exemplifies how, through collaboration and a united vision, we can drive positive change in the healthcare landscape, bringing hope and improved outcomes to patients.
What is the best thing about working at MIMETAS?
The most gratifying aspect of working at MIMETAS is how it kindles my scientific curiosity, because we tackle scientific challenges in the realm of human biology and disease. This in combination with the diverse array of people I get to interact with every single day, really shows me how we push each other forward. It’s especially rewarding when the projects that you are a part of are successfully finished and the shared common goal you set out is reached. Over the past decade, our goals have grown more ambitious, reflecting our dedication to advancing the frontiers of science. This ambition translates into exciting and advanced projects that require the combined expertise of many brilliant minds.