"It is very satisfying that we contribute to improved diagnostics for transplant patients. While still using my research skills, I am close to the “real world."

Maaike Rijkers
Master’s degree: Life Science Research & Development at Leiden University
PhD degree: Platelet transfusion and immunology at Sanquin Research Amsterdam
Current position: Project Manager Research and Development at GenDx

Ambition: What was your ambition in terms of career perspective, during your PhD?

I always enjoyed doing research, both during my Master’s internships and my PhD. The feeling of discovering something new and contributing to solving a large research puzzle has always given me a sense of purpose. My final Master’s internship was at a biotech company, and there I experienced how research could lead to development of actual products to help patients. Since that internship, my ambition was to pursue a career in a biotech company.


During my Master’s programme and PhD, the focus was completely on doing research in the academic world and how to continue a career within academic research. I really enjoyed my time as a PhD student and I obtained many new skills. However, I had to take initiative to explore which career opportunities there are outside academia, after obtaining a PhD.


I searched on websites with job openings, and made sure to get notifications in case new opportunities were posted. Also it was helpful to go to career events and talk to people from different biotech companies to get acquainted with different career options. In the end I wrote an open application letter, which resulted in my current job.

Personal growth: Why does this position fit you?

In my current job as Project Manager Research and Development I am part of the R&D team at GenDx. I am using a lot of skills obtained during my PhD and get the opportunity to develop myself. Research is still a large part of the job, as we are developing new diagnostic assays for transplantations. For me it is very satisfying to know that we are contributing to improved diagnostics for transplant patients. So while still using my research skills, I am also close to the “real world”.

The takeaway: What can others learn from your story?

After a PhD, there are lots of opportunities, both in academia and outside of academia. It is very valuable to have a large network, so if you are at a congress or (career) event, make sure to connect and talk to potential employers and add them on LinkedIn.