Jan Van Deursen

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Dr Jan Van Deursen research on senescent cells and ageing has provided important insights into how these cells affect ageing. His findings suggest that removing these cells can extend the lifespan of mice and reduce the risk of various age-related diseases. He now works with Unity Biotechnology, a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company, to develop new treatments for senescent cells.

In 1999, Dr. van Deursen joined the Mayo Clinic and continued his research program since recruitment. During his tenure at the clinic, he developed a core facility for knockout mice. His studies have led to numerous publications in prestigious journals, including Nature, Science, and Cell. In addition, Dr. van Deursen has founded several companies and is a member of the American Chemical Society.

After earning his PhD from the University of Nijmegen, Jan Van Deursen joined St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. From 1999 to 2020, he led the Mayo Clinic’s curiosity-driven research program. From there, he became chair of the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Mayo Clinic. His work has helped develop new treatments for many age-related diseases, including cancer and diabetes.

Jan Van Deursen’s life and career were defined by high-pressure work hours and intense research. He would work seven days a week, almost without taking a day off. Though his research was extremely successful, he quickly became an enigma to the rest of the world. He had no free time to pursue his interests and build a family. That is one of the reasons why his research and mentorship are so important to his career.

The Jan Van Deursen lab receives numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health. His lab focuses on ageing and senescent cells, and understanding these processes could lead to cancer cures. His lab has also spun off a company, Unity Biotechnology, which has attracted investors, including Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world. Despite Jan Van Deursen’s high-profile status, his work inspires hope.

Dr Jan Van Deursen is one of the few to have a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology. He describes his training as a “trajectory” and cites his mentor, Jan Van Deursen, PhD, as a big help in his success. The study’s first author, Bennett Childs, graduated from the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in April of 2017 and credited his mentor, Dr Jan Van Deursen, PhD.

While at the Mayo Clinic, Jan Van Deursen promoted diversity among his faculty. His efforts paid off: his department filled five tenure-track positions with diverse candidates. He also championed non-tenure-track faculty at the Mayo Clinic. He worked closely with Mayo Clinic’s leadership to create mentoring programs and improve institutional support for these faculty members. In addition, the diversity of his research lab remained high throughout his tenure.

Using mice models, Dr. van Deursen conducted groundbreaking research on ageing. In addition to developing mouse cancer models, his team discovered a breakthrough in cell ageing. Senescent cells are cells that stop dividing and accumulate in the body. Dr. van Deursen’s team discovered a way to eliminate them in mice and develop drugs to cure human diseases. While the research does not eliminate senescent cells, it has provided vital insights into ageing.

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