A high-ranking cellular biologist and entrepreneur, Dr Jan Van Deursen, recently conducted a fascinating interview for an online periodical on health. The interview touched on everything from Van Deursen’s background to his thoughts on academia and the larger scientific community. Read on to learn more about the man who helped pave the way for the next generation of biomedical scientists. Here are a few highlights from the interview.
In 2011 he co-founded Unity Biotechnology. Since launching, the company has received significant attention and raised $116 million in Series B funding. Investors included Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and the Mayo Clinic has since parted ways with Van Deursen. The reports were first published last year on a German blog. As time passed, more people came forward to tell their stories of working with the controversial entrepreneur.
The carpenter’s family life was not easy. Jan helped his father build custom windows, doors, and staircases on weekends. Unfortunately, his childhood was not a happy one. His mother developed pulmonary fibrosis and died during his senior year in high school. His arrest prompted debate over whether he should continue working or pursue his studies. It was a tough decision, but the talented architect overcame these setbacks to achieve greatness.
In addition to his groundbreaking research on cellular senescence, Dr Van Deursen is also involved with Unity Biotechnology. The company is developing novel therapies for ageing, and his discoveries could help slow or reverse the signs of ageing. This groundbreaking research will help us understand how to protect ourselves against ageing by reducing the number of senescent cells in our bodies. The company is proud to have Dr Van Deursen on its scientific team.
As chair of the biochemistry department at the Mayo Clinic, Jan Van Deursen championed diversity among the faculty. His diverse research lab filled five out of six tenure-track positions. He worked with Mayo Clinic leadership to enhance mentoring programs and institutional support for non-tenure-track faculty. His diverse research lab also stayed diverse during his tenure. A diverse faculty team is a reflection of the ethos of the institution.
Dr. van Deursen received his doctorate in cell biology from the University of Amsterdam. Upon joining the Mayo Clinic, he researched childhood cancer in mouse models. His team also developed mouse models prone to chromosome abnormalities. This research led to his focus on senescent cells, which diminish organ and tissue functions. The research was published in the most prestigious scientific journals. If you’re interested in pursuing an academic career in cellular biology, consider Dr Jan Van Deursen.
Dr Van Deursen is a Dutch citizen who earned a PhD in cell biology in 1993. After joining St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, he established a curiosity-driven research program at the Mayo Clinic in 1999. From 1999 to 2020, he served as Mayo Clinic’s transgenic and gene knockout core facility director. Additionally, he served as the chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Mayo Clinic.
Using his groundbreaking discoveries, Jan Van Deursen established himself as a leading international scientist. The Netherlands-born scientist was recruited to the United States in 1994 by the Mayo Clinic. From there, he developed a mouse gene knockout core facility. Today, he is the world’s richest man. The research he has conducted in his lab will help scientists find ways to prevent or treat age-related diseases.