Tapping new markets for rapid DNA unraveller
Researching DNA material for genetic disorders using the most powerful apparatus. This is what GenomeScan, a company on the Leiden Bio Science Park, does. Master's student Konstantina Konstantinopoulou is doing an internship there. 'It's a world where developments happen really rapidly so it's a fantastic place to learn a lot in a short time.'
Konstantina Konstantinopoulou, a student of BioPharmaceutical Sciences, proudly shows us the laboratory with its enormous machines all humming busily. GenomeScan, which has now been in operation for fifteen years, is the first company in the Leiden region to have the NovaSeq6000. This very powerful sequencing instrument can unravel a person's DNA even faster and more efficiently so that genetic defects can be discovered at an earlier stage. This Leiden-based company carries out this work on behalf of hospitals, researchers and pharmaceutical companies, so it's no coincidence that GenomeScan is located a stone's throw away from the LUMC and many biotech companies. The new generation of genetic tests means that better diagnoses can be made, and patients' treatment can be tailored more precisely to their individual requirements, Konstantinopoulou explains.
Last year this Greek master's student did a research internship at the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR) that is also located on the Leiden Bio Science Park (LBSP). With her master's specialisation in Science-Based Business, she decided to opt for a marketing internship with GenomeScan, a company that is aiming to expand both in the Netherlands and internationally. Konstantinopoulou is happy with this 'very instructive internship'. 'I'm developing a new strategy to give the company more visibility in the market. I'm carrying out market analyses and producing newsletters and I also have my own research project on managing a brand. I'm making lots of new contacts with companies on the Park. Everyone who works here has a vision, and that really appeals to me.'
Like many of the companies on the LBSP, GenomeScan has close links with Leiden University. CEO Peter Belt obtained his PhD in Leiden and a number of the roughly fifty staff have studied in Leiden. Konstantinopoulou is from Greece, where she studied chemistry. Why did she choose Leiden? 'The BioPharmaceutical Sciences programme in Leiden has a very good reputation internationally and I knew there were good opportunities for internships and work on the Bio Science Park.’ She hopes that once she has graduated she will be able to find a job on the Park. 'There are so many more opportunities in the Netherlands than in Greece. My dream is to find a marketing job in the pharmaceutical industry. My study programme means I can follow developments in this branch and at the same time I can further develop in marketing and creating new opportunties for the company.'
Some 18,000 people work on the LBSP, around 7,100 of whom work for the LUMC and 3,600 for the Faculty of Science that is also located there. The park, that is largely university terrain, has around 200 companies that all have some relationship with the University. A number of the company founders and CEOs obtained their PhD here or studied here. The same applies for many of the staff. There are also many Leiden students doing internships and gaining research experience on the Park.