New vibe needed for entrepreneurial scientists

Miao Ping Chien in het lab door Anne Reitsma
Miao Ping Chien in het lab door Anne Reitsma
Anne Reitsma

At Kendall Square in Boston, the hotspot for start-ups, it is completely natural to try new things, fail, learn and try again. That is the vibe that the Netherlands also needs, says researcher and entrepreneur Miao-Ping Chien of Erasmus MC on Innovation Origens.

A jack of all trades, the saying goes, is a master of none. Miao-Ping Chien certainly puts the lie to that. She graduated in biomedical sciences in Taiwan, got a PhD in chemistry and biochemistry in San Diego, and combined optical engineering and computational biology in her postdoctoral work at Harvard.

Now, four years after starting her own research group at Erasmus MC and part of Oncode Institute, she and her group have devised and built an optical microscope that can pinpoint exactly which cancer cells to target with cures. In the near future, her invention should be spun out for commercialization into a company called UFO Biosciences. This is a scientist who deliberately chooses to be multidisciplinary and is as determined to spin out more companies as she is devoted to science. “It should be common”, Chien argues, “for scientists to be entrepreneurs and to give them every support” to have an impact.

Putting science to use

When Chien was a younger scientist, like other scientists she cared about things like how many publications you have and how often they are cited. But that changed. Increasingly, she wanted to develop something and get it used. That implied broadening her outlook and her expertise to more than one discipline.

“It is because you are active in different fields”, argues Chien, that you can “see the bigger picture and think of applications”. Basic, fundamental research is crucially important – “that is what you build on” – but you “also want people to think about the potential, the larger impact of their discoveries”. When developing methods, mechanisms, markers, etcetera, it’s good practice for researchers to think about how we can apply that to people as well.

Read the full article on

Compare @count study programme

  • @title

    • Duration: @duration
Compare study programmes