Lenie van den Broek
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 Lenie van den Broek, Director Biology Discovery at MIMETAS.
If MIMETAS had theme song for its 10-year anniversary, what would it be and why?
Don’t stop me now by Queen.
We've spent the last decade unveiling the vast potential of Organ-on-chip technology. Many challenges in the field of microfluidic systems seemed deceptively easy at first glance, however, given the complex nature of human biology, constant innovation is needed.
We at MIMETAS, and researchers in general, understand the urgency of better models but how do we deliver the right setup and define the specific details required to make them? It can be challenging but it’s essential to strive for a continuous and improved development of more advanced 3D models. Just as Queen’s lyrics declare, “Don’t stop me now”, we will never stop reshaping the landscape of in vitro models. I truly believe that the future of advanced human tissue models is an ongoing, unstoppable journey.
As the Director Biology Discovery, what does your average day working at MIMETAS look like?
Meetings and discussions are a central part of my day. I support my team members so that they can approach their work effectively and get the best out of themselves. As a project leader, I prioritize establishing an open and inspiring working environment that encourages diverse discussions. We’re constantly exploring new, innovative models that can be developed to tackle unsolved diseases both internally and through external collaborations. In essence, my role entails a balance between leadership and creativity, always with the goal of delivering on our commitments and advancing our mission here at MIMETAS.
MIMETAS has achieved significant milestones over the past decade. Which milestone do you resonate with the most, and why?
Personally, I am very proud of obtaining our first milestones in the Roche partnership on both HBV and IBD. As team and project lead of the partnership I might be a bit biased, but the journey of first talking to the customer and then moving forward within the collaboration by achieving these key milestones together, is truly the achievement I am most proud of. Witnessing the personal and professional growth of the people involved in this project has also been truly inspiring.
Furthermore, I’d like to highlight the development of vascularized lung models as another significant personal milestone. When I started at MIMETAS, there was hardly any work done in the field of air-way modeling. Over the past years, we have been focusing more on pioneering groundbreaking models in this area. Contributing to the advancement of lung models has been immensely rewarding and has opened new avenues of exploration.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during your professional career?
For me, it was the decision to stop with something I really loved doing and believed in because my rational thinking pointed towards change. It is a tough choice to discontinue a role or project when your heart is attached to it even though you realize that trying something else is the right next step. For me this applied to my previous job but is also important for projects. There comes a point where you realize that you are not the right person to develop the project further or that the project is no longer serving your own growth. It’s about expanding your knowledge setting and achieving new goals so that you can grow even more on your professional and personal journey.
If you could send a message to yourself 10 years ago, what would you tell the younger you?
I would offer this piece of wisdom to my younger self: You may believe you’ve gained a lot of knowledge, but the truth is you know far less than you think. Remain humble, be open-minded and listen to people around you. Life is an ongoing learning journey. At certain points in my life, I thought I knew everything and that my knowledge on certain subjects was saturated, only to discover there’s always more to embrace. By doing so, I want to continue to expand my understanding of the world and grow so much more in life.
What is the best thing about working at MIMETAS?
The best aspect of working at MIMETAS is the dynamic environment. Each day presents different challenges, offering me the opportunity to grow and develop. Moreover, the open and collaborative work culture is something I really appreciate. At MIMETAS, everyone shares the same vision: The need for more physiologically relevant phenotypic disease models. To achieve this, intense discussions are needed to fuel novel and innovative ideas. However, in the end, we celebrate the same victories all together. It’s great to witness how the company's growth is fueled by the collective efforts of everyone here.
What is a motto you live by?
Enjoy life. Life can be tough but even amidst the challenges, you can find beautiful things every day. Just look for them and take the time to enjoy it.