I am ASCPT: Rob Christiaan van Wijk

Author: [AUTHOR] Published on 2/1/2024 12:00:00 AM

Rob van Wijk
Rob Christiaan van Wijk, PhD, Assistant Professor, Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands

What excites you about serving in your role as Global Health (GH) Community Vice Chair?
The Global Health Community makes a difference. We are working on several initiatives to improve Global Health by learning about, informing on, and addressing the challenges in Global Health from many directions. Think about the session at the recent Annual Meeting on clinical trials in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), the Network & Community Experience session on Pharmacometrics Africa, and our proposal to make ASCPT more accessible for LMIC scientists.

I am also happy to contribute to ASCPT as a Society in this volunteer role and learn from the inspiring people in the leadership and steering committee.

What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the many bachelor-, master-, and PhD students as well as postdocs that I have supervised and mentored since I started my own training in translational pharmacology. I am very excited to start my own research group and continue training the next generation of pharmacologists, as I am starting as an assistant professor at Leiden University.

What is the most important leadership lesson you have learned the hard way?
Be a multiplier. Dr. Georgios Vlasakakis, the current chair of the Global Health Community, recommended Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown's book on multiplier leadership. It helped me understand why I had felt bad in certain situations (both subject to a leader and as a leader myself) and more importantly how to address it from a multiplier perspective.

Who inspired you in your career?
When I was a student, Professor Douwe Breimer once told us something about academic training that I will never forget. It is hard to translate to English as concisely as he put it in Dutch, but in its essence, the difference between learning facts and researching something, figuring something out yourself, is like the difference between filling a bucket of water and lighting a fire. Curiosity is dangerously contagious!

Do you have a favorite tip or trick for clinical practice or research that you want to share with fellow members?
Spend time with the data. As tempting as it is to start your analysis as soon as possible, understanding the raw data and visualizing it clearly is sometimes more than half the job. One of my favorite moments in a project is presenting the exploratory data visualizations to collaborators and learning from each other's experiences and perspectives. It is the best way to start your analysis.

What is your favorite Society memory?
Participating in the ASCPT Pharmacometrics Grand Prix and presenting our work to the esteemed panel of judges and the audience. We won the audience vote! It was great to see so many attending this session, especially considering it was the last day of the Annual Meeting at 7 AM. I made many connections that I am still in touch with from that experience. It was great to work as a team with my four colleague-PhD students at the time at Leiden University.

When you aren't working, how do you spend your free time?
I love bonding with people over food. Both eating at restaurants or cooking at home. Connecting with people over what they cook and eat is beautiful, especially in an international environment such as science, or when traveling.

How do you keep focused and motivated?
I like to listen to music while I am working. Depending on the work at hand, it varies between classical music (for example Beethoven's 5th Piano concerto), film scores (Christopher Nolan movies are a favorite), or queer pop (Lady Gaga, Troy Sivan, Kylie Minogue). When my head is full of tasks, questions, or doubts, going for a run helps. I have a nice route around Mission Bay alongside the water in San Francisco that clears my mind.

What was your childhood dream job?
Instead of fireman or policeman, I remember I was inspired by the reverend in the church we used to go to. Differences between science and religion aside, presenting something you passionately believe in, while wearing robes, it seems a small step between reverends and professors.

What's one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I'm the fourth of five siblings, so I was raised in a big and warm family. Currently we have 7 nieces/nephews and the 8th is on the way! We're very proud uncles.

Dr. van Wijk has been a member of ASCPT since 2018.

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