Eating a sandwich with… Vera Brinks

Monday, December 14, 2015

Leiden Bio Science Park is much more than a collection of companies; it is a community of people from all over the world. We set out to meet them, one sandwich at a time… Today we meet Vera Brinks, bio pharmacist at ProQR. 

As the door labelled ‘the restaurant’ slowly opens, we enter a different world. This, we think to ourselves as we gaze upon the appealing stacks of sandwiches, the day’s ‘chicory platter with thymian cheese & potatoes’, the tables filled with chatting employees, a corner with comfortable sofas and a disco ball dangling from the ceiling, this is how a canteen is meant to be.

Today, we’re the guests of Vera Brinks, bio pharmacist at ProQR, who explains a few of the things ProQR does to encourage team building and overall happiness. The daily top-notch lunch is only the tip of the iceberg, we soon learn. While we settle in the cosy chairs in the semi-open ‘far east’ meeting room, Vera casually mentions an in-house masseur, weekly fitness boot camps, the monthly ‘culture club’ and flexible working hours. There are croissant-fueled breakfasts to introduce new employees, Bollywood-movie nights, Ethiopian dinners and an encouragement policy to share and learn from each other’s fields of expertise. There is even an official ‘happiness manager’; everything to make the company stronger and better.

And this approach seems to be paying off: ProQR was founded only three-and-a-half years ago and already has over 120 employees. (Vera was employee #27, the number is printed on the customized sport outfit the company gave her.) ProQR aims to treat genetic diseases and is currently developing a drug for cystic fibrosis, that already entered the first stage of clinical trials. “Everybody here is really energetic and motivated, we all want this drug to be available for patients,” Vera says. As a bio pharmacist, she is part of the manufacturing and pharmaceutics team, and is mainly involved in perfecting the drug’s formulation.

This winter Vera and a few of her co-workers will travel to Austria in order to skate the Weissensee and raise money for Skate4AIR, a charity promoting and supporting research for cystic fibrosis. Vera, who until this fall never even tried on long track ice skates, plans to skate at least 100 kilometers. “Hopefully in six hours”, she adds cheerfully. Some of her skate team members are even aiming for 200 kilometers.

We leave ProQR well-nourished and feeling optimistic: who else to trust with finding a treatment for cystic fibrosis, if not these ice-skating bio pharmacists with happiness managers.

  Want to support Vera and Skate4AIR?



Article by Blinde Paniek



Find out more about drug development at Leiden Bio Science Park.