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 scientists that drive our world. Today we have a chat with Bas Trietsch, Chief Technology Officer and straight shooter at Mimetas.
How would you describe your job to me, if I were 5 years old?
At Mimetas, I work with the team to try and push the limits of our human tissue models to bring drugs to patients faster. This can involve developing new products, such new versions of the OrganoPlate, equipment or plates preloaded with biological models. It can also involve further developing how we learn from our models, for example by developing more advanced assays and applying artificial intelligence to analyse the tissues. When we find that the technology is holding back our understanding of a disease, we get to work to find new ways to more closely represent all aspects of a disease and enable better methods to understand and treat those diseases.
What does an average day for you look like working at Mimetas?
My days during the week are quite diverse. One day in the week I reserve to spend at the factory. I work with the folks in Enschede to continuously improve the quality and reliability of our products. The rest of the week I work with different teams specialized in different aspects of Mimetas. I really love working with the engineers to brainstorm om new and innovative applications of our technology. It is very satisfying to find simple and scalable solutions to the needs for complex biological models. Other days can be focused on scaling up our biological manufacturing and screening capacity. It is a blast to figure out how to combine cutting-edge biology, robot automation, high content imaging, artificial intelligence, and pharmacology and sometimes even ship it around the globe. The fact that we supply OrganoPlates and equipment, but also offer screening services and team up with pharma to discover new drugs means I get to work on all the steps of drug discovery throughout a week.
What is your favorite pastime?
Cooking! I do not only like eating and drinking good food and wine, but I also like making it. I can’t wait for summer to arrive and Covid to leave, so I can get back to enjoying a good BBQ with friends in my garden. Nothing beats beefs shortribs prepared in a drum I nicked from our factory and made into a smoker. Other than that I like traveling, snowboarding, and diving. Let’s hope those borders open up again soon!
Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time?
Good and on time is better. Better can be the enemy of good. I believe you only start learning about where you can really improve after you start using what you have. We are lucky to have a strong team of scientists that are always eager to try our latest innovations. Quickly iterating between engineers and biologists is what enables us to keep elevating our models. In my experience, a good product is also an elegant product. You typically don’t get there by endlessly finding a certain product, but you get there by really developing the best idea to start with. It has become a running gag in my team that our products always end up very close to our initial quick and dirty prototype. I believe this is because we have such a tight link between our end-user and engineers so that they come up with a good approach from the get-go. That’s not to say that everything always works the first try, but if it works, we are typically pretty close to what the final product will look like.
Do you prefer people being straightforward to you, or people tempering their words?
Always straightforward. I dislike it when people tip-toe around a subject, resulting in them saying “yes” when they are thinking “no”. People need to be straightforward. If I say something that is wrong, everybody in the room can call me out on it. People should be able to say what they want, which is, I think, a big strength of the Netherlands.
What small things in life make you happy?
Good coffee, going back to bed for a short nap after getting up way to early and strolling along a beach with my dog.
What is your favorite quote, song, or belief, anything that you live by?
Make the other person shine. I hate it when people try and make themselves look better by diminishing others. Instead, I think you will always shine a lot brighter if you enable everyone you work with to the best they can. I love the fact that there is very no culture at Mimetas to compete amongst ourselves, rather we try to help each other as a team. Probably one of the biggest reasons why I love every day at Mimetas, and I think I’m not the only one.