Ronald Plasterk

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Person.png Ronald Plasterk  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(politician, biologist, scientist)
Plasterk, Ronald - 1999.jpg
BornApril 12. 1957
The Hague
Alma materUniversity of Leiden
Interests • Biology
• diseases
• mRNA vaccine
PartyDutch Labour Party, PVDA
Genetic scientist and former Dutch Minister

Employment.png Leiden/Councilmen

In office
1982 - 1984

Ronald Plasterk is a scientist and former politician. He has a PhD degree in biology, specialized in molecular genetics. After being Minister of the Interior, he was then in 2018 founder and CEO of a company in DNA and genetic research called "Frame Cancer Therapeutics", which he sold in 2022 for 32 million euros. Next to his work at Frame, he has been appointed as professor at the University of Amsterdam since September 2018.[1]


He became active in the public sector and occupied numerous seats as a nonprofit director on several boards of directors and supervisory boards such as the Wellcome Trust, European Molecular Biology Organization, European Centre for Nature Conservation after college. Plasterk was a scientist and libertarian political commentator, who made the switch to national politics as a PvdA (the Dutch labour Dutch party) member in 2007. He then became a minister under Jan Peter Balkenende.

RNA Research

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 which are molecules found in plants and animals.[2]

In 2018, Plasterk founded Frame Cancer Therapeutics, a company dedicated to developing an mRNA vaccine (same type as the well-known corona "vaccines") for individual cancer patients. He sold this company to the German biotech company CureVac in 2022 for 32 million euros.[3]


A somewhat flamboyant minister, he tried cutting tightening education standards in higher education.[4]

Plasterk Received insufficient support for the reformation of national districts instead of provinces to increase centralization and the power of the national government, but did bring about a new intelligence and security service law for the AIVD. He was the head of a "experimental medicine division""" at a company called "MyTommorrows". Around 2017 he created a constitutional basis for the three Caribbean public entities and allowing electoral colleges to be established for the election of the Senate in the Caribbean Netherlands.

Before becoming minister, he was director of the research school of the Netherlands Cancer Institute and professor of developmental genetics. Since 2017, he has been active in pharmaceuticals and in 2018 became professor of Novel Strategies to Access to Therapeutics at University of Amsterdam. After leaving politics he became an increasingly more socially conservative commentator calling for a strict restrictive immigration policy similar to the Denmark under the Danish Social Democrats[5] in newspapers such as De Telegraaf.[6]

Intelligence Scandal

“In my life, I have met many white face-makers in the world of art and media, many of whom I considered more or less like-minded. But I see more and more of them slithering onto the right. Ronald Plasterk after them. The Labour Party man I once read in the Volkskrant now writes for De Telegraaf. As Minister of Education, Culture and Science (2007-2010), he attended so many premieres and festivals that people called him the "Minister of Parties". Always equally good-humoured. Until something snapped. These days, he is a grim, frightened man who sees ghosts everywhere. I mean: ‘By far the biggest threat to freedom of thought and freedom of speech is Democrats66’ Seriously?”
Chris Keulemans (2023)  [7]

Plasterk came under scrutiny in February 2014 when it emerged that he had misrepresented possible Dutch involvement in mass surveillance in 2013. He said, to keep the Dutch service out of the wind, that the National Intelligence service AIVD's working method was that of intelligence gathering NSA and in doing so, he ignored advice to be more cautious to follow EU and Dutch law.

In November 2013, it emerged that the Dutch intelligence service itself was indeed involved in the collection of metadata of phone calls. However, this was not communicated to the Dutch House of Representatives until February 2014, because in the meantime a court case was playing out in which the state could possibly be forced to disclose more than was deemed responsible. The House of Representatives was under the impression that he had deliberately wanted to conceal his mistake from October. In a parliamentary debate on 11 February, he apologized for having speculated in the media, thus putting the House on the wrong track. However, he stressed that in November 2013, due to the confidentiality of information on how intelligence agencies operate, he had not had the opportunity to communicate this to the House. This, he said, had left him ‘like a stone on the stomach’. Plasterk survived a vote of no-confidence in parliament.[8]


In June 2022, Plasterk was elected member of the board of CureVac, a vaccine developer.[9]


In 2023, Plasterk was often sharing videos of violent Arab civilians form Gaza, who shouted death threats to Israelis.[10] In columns in 2023 and 2024, he called out the Dutch public broadcaster NOS for unethical support for Gaza-army Hamas.

“All the more exasperating that in the reactions to Hamas's horrific pogrom, in which more Jews were murdered in one day than at any time since the Holocaust, first, it is pretended that it is indeed symmetrical, and the major media such as the NOS news even ostentatiously takes sides with Hamas and against Israel (see, for example, holding Israel directly responsible for that bomb on the hospital, without any check, and then no neat response).

You can have all sorts of objections to the Netanyahu government, and because Israel is a democracy (the only one in the Middle East) there are many people even within Israel who voice those objections. You can insist on observing borders when counterattacking. If you recognise Israel's full right to defend itself, there are always limits anyway; remember, for example, that Israel is a nuclear power. But even if you keep the balance right, it is important to have in mind why the situation between Israel and Hamas is anything but symmetrical.

There are civilian casualties on both sides. A first fundamental difference is that Hamas, as a terror organisation, is out to inflict as many civilian casualties as possible, while the Israeli army is trying to hit Hamas while inflicting as few civilian casualties as possible. You might perhaps think that they should take even more of a margin on that point, but in any case the intention is a completely different one from Hamas’.

A further difference is that Israeli soldiers may be willing to die in war, but still prefer to come home to their families in one piece. Hamas has a death culture, with the highest good being to blow yourself up, for which you are rewarded with sex with 72 young virgins (not wondering if those 72 young women feel like it).

Then taking civilians hostage as human shields, including very young children. That is a serious war crime, and one would expect that all responses would constantly insist that Hamas must first release those hostages. On top of that, Hamas is also preventing its own civilians from leaving locations where Hamas posts are located, precisely with the intention of those civilians being killed in attacks from Israel. Another criminal tactic that Israel does not use.”
Ronald Plasterk (2023)  [11]

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