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Ronald Plasterk

His Excellency
Ronald Plasterk
Ronald Plasterk in 2015
Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations
Assumed office
November 5, 2012
Prime Minister Mark Rutte
Preceded by Liesbeth Spies
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
June 17, 2010 – November 5, 2012
Minister of Education, Culture and Science
In office
February 22, 2007 – February 23, 2010
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende
Preceded by Maria van der Hoeven
Succeeded by André Rouvoet
Personal details
Born

Ronald Hans Anton Plasterk
(1957-04-12) April 12, 1957


The Hague, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Political party Labour Party
Spouse(s) Els Beumer
Children Wouter (born 1990)
Willem (born 1991)
Residence Bussum, Netherlands
Alma mater University of Amsterdam (MS)
Leiden University (PhD)
Occupation Politician
Scientist
Professor
Columnist
Author
Website Official Twitter

Ronald Hans Anton Plasterk (Dutch pronunciation: ; born April 12, 1957) is a Dutch politician of the Labour Party (PvdA). He is the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations since November 5, 2012 in the Cabinet Rutte II. He was Minister of Education, Culture and Science from February 22, 2007 until February 23, 2010 in the Cabinet Balkenende IV. He served as a Member of the House of Representatives from June 17, 2010 until November 5, 2012. A successful scientist and professor, Plasterk is a highly cited[1] and prize-winning molecular geneticist. Since 1995 he has also been an author and columnist for several national publications.

Contents

  • Biography 1
    • Scientific career 1.1
    • Columnist 1.2
    • Politics 1.3
    • Personal life 1.4
  • Prizes 2
  • Bibliography 3
    • Selected scientific publications 3.1
    • Popular scientific publications 3.2
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Biography

Scientific career

Plasterk attended the Sint Janscollege in The Hague, where he graduated in 1975, specializing in sciences. After graduation he studied biology at the Leiden University and economics at the University of Amsterdam. During this period he wrote for the student newspaper.[2] In 1981 he obtained cum laude the Dutch doctorandus degree in biology (roughly equivalent to a Master of Science degree). He also graduated for his propaedeuse in economics in the same year. Between 1981 and 1984 he worked as a PhD-student at Leiden University. In 1984 he was awarded a doctorate in Mathematics and the Natural Sciences at Leiden University for his thesis "Inversion of the G segment of bacteriophage Mu: analysis of a genetic switch". His study focused on transposon sequences in DNA. While a PhD-student Plasterk also was a member of the Leiden city council for the Labour Party.

Between 1985 and 1986, he worked as


  • (Dutch) Dr. R.H.A. (Ronald) Plasterk (Parlement & Politiek)

External links

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function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end

function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end


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function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end

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-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end


-- Helper functions


local p = {}

local libraryUtil = require('libraryUtil') local checkType = libraryUtil.checkType local mArguments -- lazily initialise Module:Arguments local yesno -- lazily initialise Module:Yesno


-- Module:Hatnote -- -- -- -- This module produces hatnote links and links to related articles. It -- -- implements the and meta-templates and includes -- -- helper functions for other Lua hatnote modules. --


References

  • Wormen en waarden (1993)
  • Techniek van het leven: de betekenis van biotechnologie voor mens en samenleving (2000)
  • Leven uit het lab (2002)

Popular scientific publications

  • Ketting, R.F., Fischer, S.E.J., Bernstein, E., Sijen, T., Hannon, G.J., Plasterk R.H.A. (2001). Dicer functions in RNA interference and in synthesis of small RNA involved in developmental timing in C. elegans. Genes & Development 15: 2654-2659.
  • Sijen, T., Fleenor, J., Simmer, F., Thijssen, K.L., Parrish, S., Timmons, L., Plasterk, R.H.A., Fire, A. (2001). On the role of RNA amplification in dsRNA-triggered gene silencing. Cell 107: 465-476.
  • Tijsterman, M., Ketting, R.F., Okihara, K. L., Sijen, T., Plasterk, R. H. A. (2002) Short antisense RNAs can trigger gene silencing in C. elegans, depending on the RNA helicase MUT-14. Science 25;295 (5555): 694-697
  • Wienholds, E., Schulte-Merker, S., Walderich, B., Plasterk, R.H.A. (2002) Target-selected inactivation of the zebrafish rag1 gene. Science 297 (July 5): 99-102.
  • Wienholds, E., Koudijs, M.J., Van Eeden, F.J.M., Cuppen, E., Plasterk, R.H.A. (2003) The microRNA-producing enzyme Dicer 1 is essential for zebrafish development. Nature Genetics 35: 217-218.
  • Sijen, T., Plasterk, R.H.A. (2003) Transposon silencing in the Caenorhabditis elegans germ line by natural RNAi. Nature 426: 310-314.
  • Berezikov, E., Guryev, V., van de Belt, J., Wienholds, E., Plasterk, R.H.A., Cuppen, E. (2005) Phylogenetic shadowing and computational identification of human microRNA genes. Cell 120: 21-24.
  • Robert, V.J.P., Sijen, T., van Wolfswinkel, J., Plasterk, R.H.A. (2005) Chromatin and RNAi factors protect the C. elegans germline against repetitive sequences. Genes Dev. 19: 782-787.
  • Sijen T., Steiner F.A., Thijssen K.L., Plasterk R.H.A. (2007) Secondary siRNAs result from unprimed RNA synthesis and form a distinct class. Science. 2007 Jan 12;315(5809):244-7.

Selected scientific publications

Bibliography

  • 1999: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research
  • 2002: Award for Communication in the Life Sciences of European Molecular Biology Organization
  • 2005: Prix Louis D of the Institut de France

Prizes

In the summer of 2008 he appeared in Zomergasten, an evening long in depth television interview of the VPRO.

Plasterk is married and has two children. He lives in Bussum. Plasterk is a member of the Royal Christian Oratory Association "Excelsior" in Amsterdam, where he sings as a tenor. He participates in the yearly recital of the Mattheus Passion of Johann Sebastian Bach of Excelsior.[18] He also plays the guitar. His other hobbies include literature, painting and photography.

Personal life

He resigned on the morning of February 20, 2010, when all PvdA ministers withdrew from the fourth Balkenende cabinet. The Queen accepted the resignations on February 23, 2010. In the House of Representatives he focused on matters of finance.

A key issue during Plasterk's period as minister was the salary of teachers. When there was no room in the national budget to increase the salaries of teachers as advised by a committee led by Alexander Rinnooy Kan, Plasterk was forced to find money from within the budget of his own ministry. Kan made his advice public just days after the Miljoenennota (the national budget) was published. One of the solutions Plasterk considered was cutting the allowance for students and raising the fees for universities.[15] Plasterk was strongly criticized by the students unions for his proposals and by his coalition partners CDA and CU and the leftwing opposition parties SP and GroenLinks. In the end he and Wouter Bos, the minister of Finance, were able to find sufficient money for a marked increase in the salaries of teachers. Under the pressure of strikes by teachers,[16] Plasterk came to a deal with the teachers´ union in April 2008.[17]

As minister Plasterk was responsible for higher education and scientific education, for research, culture and media, women's emancipation and of the LBGT, and for policy on the unemployed in the education sector.[14] As such he is vice chair of the national Innovation Platform and member of the task force Women on Top.

On February 22, 2007 he was appointed minister of Education, Culture and Science in the fourth Balkenende cabinet for the Labour Party.[4] Because of this appointment Plasterk has ended his scientific career, because he considers it is impossible to leave research for several years and then hope to reintegrate.[1] Wouter Bos, leader of the Labour Party, sees Plasterk as a social and cultural libertarian, who balances out the social and cultural conservativism of the Labour Party's coalition partners Christian Democratic Appeal and the Christian Union.[11]

Ronald Plasterk with his trademark hat in 2008

In 2006 he was member of the committee which wrote the election manifesto for the Labour Party in the 2006 elections, which was led by Paul Depla. He also served as an advisor of the national convention, a think tank of the Dutch government on government reform.

Plasterk was a member of the Leiden city council for the Labour Party in the early 1980s. Since 1995 he has been a political columnist for several national publications and a commentator on TV. In the mid-2000s he assumed several more active posts in national politics.

Politics

Furthermore, in the referendum on the European constitution, he positioned himself as an outspoken critic of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe.[13] He opposed the constitution because he considered that it did not clearly codify the responsibilities of the European Union. He also felt that it laid too much emphasis on the free market.

In his columns in de Volkskrant and Buitenhof, he also fiercely opposed the proposal of Maria van der Hoeven, who preceded him as minister of Education, to teach intelligent design in high schools.[12]

Plasterk wrote on a wide range of subjects: he is an outspoken atheist.[9] In 1997 he coined the term ietsisme ("somethingism") to refer to the religious belief that the Christian God does not exist, but that there is some greater force that created the universe and governs it.[10] This position is roughly equivalent to 18th century Deism. He first strongly criticized the belief on intellectual grounds, calling it a "poor and irritating phenomenon", but later claimed that it was a mix of atheism and nostalgia, and much more sympathetic "than the idea of a cruel God that wants this misery"[11]

Plasterk started as a columnist in the Intermediair, a weekly magazine oriented at young professionals and academics, in 1995.[7] In the early years he mainly wrote on the political and ethical aspects of genetic research.[2] In 1999 he switched from his column in the Intermediair to a weekly column in the Volkskrant, a leading centre left quality newspaper and a two-weekly spoken column in Buitenhof, a political talkshow produced by the VPRO, the NPS and the VARA. He continued these columns until 2007 when he became minister.[7] In 2000 several of his columns were bundled in the book "Leven uit het Lab" ("Life from the Lab")

Plasterk giving a press statement in 2006

Columnist

Plasterk's research was in the area of genetics and functional genomics. He focused on the mechanism and regulation of DNA transposition, and on the mechanisms of RNA interference and microRNAs,[5] including the functions of RNAi as a natural defense against the uncontrolled duplication of transposons.[7][8]

[4] Before entering politics he also was a member of the Health Council, which advises the [6] Since 2001 Plasterk has been a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In 1987 he returned to the Netherlands where he became group leader and member of the board of the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. In 1989 he became director of the research school of oncology at the institute, where he remained until 2000. Between 1993 and 1997 he occupied the endowed chair in molecular microbiology at the Free University of Amsterdam.[4] Between 1997 and 2000 he was professor of molecular genetics at the University of Amsterdam. In February 2000 he became director of the Netherlands Institute for Developmental Biology, also known as the Hubrecht Laboratory, an institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). He combined this with a position as professor in developmental genetics at Utrecht University from May 2000. He retained these positions until February 2007.

[5]

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