Jos van Putten (professor Infection Biology / coordinator Infection & Immunity focus program)

Jos van Putten (professor Infection Biology / coordinator Infection & Immunity focus program)

Jos van Putten is the coordinator of the Infection & Immunity research focus program of the Utrecht University (UU). He was trained as an MD but has been active as a scientist ever since. Jos performed research at Leiden University and the Academic Medical Center Amsterdam and spent ten years abroad at the Max-Planck-Institute (Germany) and the National Institutes of Health (USA). Subsequently, he came to Utrecht University and became professor of Infection Biology. His work includes being research director and vice-dean of the Veterinary Faculty, director of the UU strategic theme Life Sciences and, on top of that, coordinator of the focus program Infection & Immunity. “The finest parts of my job are the continuous challenge to be at the edge of new discoveries and to be the coach of a team of great ambitious young scientists.”

“True research drive is intrinsic curiosity and creativeness”

“The Infection & Immunity focus program is all about collaboration and networking. Innovative research comes from a joint effort from scientists with different scientific backgrounds and demands state-of-the-art technology. The Infection & Immunity community in Utrecht exactly offers this environment. It is a platform that enables joint training of young scientists, provides the needed critical mass and visibility, and allows for interdisciplinary research as well as joint investment in facilities.”

Gut feeling

“I chose for this research field when I realized that preventing disease benefits people more than only treating disease symptoms. My research interest is very broad. When I started, my PhD research was in the field of endocrinology. Over the years, I have switched to microbiology, cell biology, innate immunity, and intestinal Health. Infectious diseases offer an attractive research field because of the multidisciplinary nature: it requires integration of several research disciplines, a true challenge. Consequently, my job is highly diverse. My motto in science is: Be open minded, believe in yourself, and follow your gut feeling. New discoveries are always unexpected and are typically not in the original research proposal.”

Novel vaccines

“The ultimate goal of our Infection Biology research is to improve human and animal health by preventing disease onset and to develop new therapies. We focus on the molecular mechanisms: how exactly do bacteria in our body contribute to health and disease. This knowledge enables development of novel vaccines and provides information on bacterial modulation of our immune system. Over the years I have realized that public health is ultimately served best by detailed understanding of the mechanisms of disease rather than by the continuous monitoring of the problem.”

“You really experience and meet global citizens with a common mission”

Paid hobby

“A very beautiful aspect of my work is to meet and to collaborate with a large number of smart colleagues from all over the world and with quite different cultural backgrounds. You really experience and meet global citizens with a common mission. In my daily life, people around me often have health-related questions and are always interested in the latest scientific developments. However, at times, they also ask me why scientists are so stupid in accepting to work so much in the evenings or weekends without being paid for it. When I reply that my work is truly a (paid) hobby, it is suddenly quite well understood that I use my free time to work on my hobby. Scientists usually do not a make a lot of money. If you seek a career in science, your drive to do research should be intrinsic curiosity and creativeness. Clearly formulate your own ambitions. Be sure that you fit into the team and seek fruitful collaborations.”