Expanding Career Options Lunch Speakers Print E-mail

Tuesday 1 September, 13:30 to 15:30


Final programme available for download here

"The Scientific Editor"

In this talk, Vivian Siegel will describe her career trajectory from postdoc to Editor and back to academia, with stops along the way to describe the different kinds of editorial positions available to scientists, the training and skills needed to get these positions, and a typical day.

Vivian Siegel


Director of Center for Science Communication

Vanderbilt University Department of Medicine, US

Research Professor of Medicine and Cell and Developmental Biology

After a dozen years as a cell and developmental biologist, Vivian Siegel joined the staff of Cell as a senior editor, ultimately succeeding Benjamin Lewin as the chief Editor for Cell and Molecular Cell. While at Cell Press, she launched Developmental Cell as its Editor and aided in the launch of Cancer Cell. In 2003, Vivian Siegel joined Public Library of Science as its founding Executive Director and one of the launch editors of PLoS Biology, and was also involved in the launches of PLoS Medicine and the PLoS Community Journals. After a dozen years in scientific publishing, she returned to academia, joining Vanderbilt University School of Medicine as Director of the Center for Science Communication and Research Professor of Medicine and Cell and Developmental Biology. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Disease Models & Mechanisms and the Executive Editor of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

"The European Patent Office;  Serving Industry & the Public"

In his presentation Dr. Sjoerd Hoekstra, director of one of the Biotechnology departments of the European Patent Office will give an outline of the EPO, its purpose, its departments and its output. During the presentation facts & figures about the EPO will be given. Those attending the session "Expanding Career Options" will get an idea about the working atmosphere as well as about recruitment policy and career opportunities.

Sjoerd Hoekstra

Director at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Dr. Hoekstra studied Plant Molecular Biology at Leiden University (NL) in 1986 and continued to work there for 4 years as PhD student. In 1990 he joined the EPO in Munich to work as patent examiner in the department biotechnology as plant specialist. In 1996 he was transferred to the EPO branch in The Hague to support the divisions there and to become in 2002 directors of one of the 9 Biotechnology departments.

"Industry - an alternative career path for experimental scientists?"

The presentation will provide a "subjective" view on the industries which have traditionally employed research scientists with a focus on pharma & biotech. It will touch upon the available career options in the different functional areas in the industrial environment and the specific requirements for these different career paths.  It will also try to shed light on the "perceived" differences between (i) industry and academia and (ii) large (pharma) versus small (biotech).

Ernst Böhnlein
Managing Director, TET Systems
Ernst Böhnlein studied biology at the University of Heidelberg where he received Diploma and Ph.D. degrees. In 1986, he started a DFG-sponsored post-doctoral fellowship at Duke University (USA) followed by his "first" post-graduate a position as Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) fellow at DUMC. In 1989, he took a position at the Sandoz Research Institute in Vienna, Austria, working on AIDS therapies including cell-based gene therapy approaches. In 1993, he transferred the gene HIV therapy projects as part of a joint venture with a California Biotech Company to Palo Alto, Ca, USA. In 1997, he switched therapeutic fields and took a management position at Novartis in New Jersey. In 2001, he relocated to Germany working as senior manager in small biotech companies on a variety of therapeutic approaches including small molecule based therapeutics, proteins and cellular therapies. Since 2008, he is managing director of TET Systems in Heidelberg.

Nonia Pariente

Editor, EMBO Reports
Nonia Pariente studied Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Madrid's Autónoma University, ES, where she also completed her Ph.D. on new antiviral strategies that exploit the error-prone replication of RNA viruses. She then worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles from 2004 to 2007, where she focused on the development of lentiviral vectors for gene therapy. Nonia joined the editorial team of EMBO reports in August 2007 and has edited both Scientific Reports and Reviews content. She is currently responsible for the Reviews section of the journal.

Claire Ainsworth

Freelance journalist, science writer and trainer with SciConnect

Claire Ainsworth is a science journalist who has been training students and researchers in science communication and media skills for nearly ten years. She completed a doctorate in developmental biology and genetics at Oxford University before joining New Scientist magazine in 1999, where she worked as a reporter and a features editor, and won an Association of British Science Writers Award in 2004. She then joined Nature as a Senior Reporter and Features Editor, before going freelance in 2007. She now writes for a variety of publications, including New Scientist, Nature and Science while also running her company SciConnect Ltd, which offers courses in science communication.

René Raggers

Dutch & European Patent Attorney

René Raggers studied molecular biology in Groningen, NL, worked at the ETH in Zürich, CH and obtained his doctorate with a thesis on cell biology research on cancer at the Amsterdam Medical Centre, NL. He also majored in business administration and worked for several years as scientist in industry. In 2005 he decided to “shift gears” and started working in the area of Intellectual Property (IP). In 2008 Rene became both Dutch and European Patent Attorney. As a patent attorney he drafts patent applications, represents his clients before the Dutch and European Patent Offices, is asked to assist in court cases and advices his clients with respect to a broad range of IP-related matters. For this he combines his scientific experience and knowledge with his knowledge of patent law and business administration.

Hannes Iserentant

Invention Analyst, Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie (VIB)
After having obtained a Bachelor's degree in Biology at KULeuven, BE, Hannes Iserentant obtained a Master's degree in Biotechnology at the University of Ghent, BE. He did his PhD research in the lab of professor Tavernier (Department of Medical Protein Research, VIB, and Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, BE), specialising in cytokines and cytokine receptors, in particular the leptin receptor. After completing his PhD, he started working at the patent law firm Bird Goën & Co as a patent engineer in the life sciences sector. In 2008, Hannes Iserentant returned to VIB, now as member of the tech transfer staff. In this capacity, he is, amongst other things, responsible for drafting and prosecuting VIB patent applications and is actively involved in translating the basic inventions into collaborations with industry.

Susanne Benner

Head of Communication, BASF Plant Science
Susanne Benner studied Biology at the Technical University of Aachen (RWTH), Germany, followed by a Ph.D. thesis in organic chemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETHZ), Zürich, CH. During her Ph.D. thesis she wrote for the Swiss university newspaper "Synthese". After graduation she completed a two year traineeship at the Museum for Technology and Work (Landesmuseum für Technik und Arbeit) in Mannheim, DE. Between 1997 and 2004 she was responsible for media and public affairs at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (MPIZ) in Cologne, DE. In 2004 she joined BASF Plant Science as Head of Communication. Today she is responsible for global public affairs including media, issues and employee communication.

Maarten Balzar

Product manager Bioscience - Nikon Instruments Europe B.V.
Maarten Balzar is product manager for Nikon Instruments BV and is responsible for the complete Bioscience product line (from student microscopes to high end laser-based confocal systems). He has a master degree in Chemistry and after finishing his PhD at the department of Pathology of the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) in the Netherlands, he joined Nikon in 1999. Besides organizing the European support for Bioscience products, he is also involved in collaborations with Academia (Eureka funded projects) and product development.