Interview with Monika Wolkers in Oncode Magazine

Monika Wolkers has recently joined the prestigious Oncode Institute, a nationwide academic partnership, dedicated to understanding cancer and translating research into practice. In the first issue of the Oncode Magazine Monika shares her personal motivation to work in oncology:

Monika Wolkers is a group leader at Sanquin and an associate professor at the University of Amsterdam. Sanquin is one of the four new institutes that joined Oncode in 2019 and Wolkers is one of the 19 new Oncode Investigators. Her group studies the role of T cells in our body’s anti-tumour response. “I think science stole my heart in the third year of my PhD track,” she says.

What was the most decisive moment in your career?

“I did my PhD in the group of Ton Schumacher at the NKI (Netherlands Cancer Institute). We were studying which antigens effectively induce T cell responses. Preliminary studies suggested that antigens were less likely to trigger T cells if they were only briefly presented on dendritic cells. We set up an experiment to test this idea and the results fitted our hypothesis perfectly. I must have repeated the experiment about forty times because the results seemed too good to be true. I will never forget sitting behind my computer, analysing the data, and showing the results to Ton. At that moment, I realized that I was truly contributing to the body of scientific knowledge.”

Read more at Oncode.

Photo: Rob ter Bekke