New Bike, New Job !

Since this is supposed to be a blog about our life here in The Netherlands, and everything is official now, I think it’s only fitting that I take a moment to acknowledge a pretty major change in my day-to-day life here in Groningen.

I am officially on bike #4.

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My poor poor ‘grandma bike’ – Helen – met her end due to rust. Pieces were literally falling off while I was riding it. And you know it’s bad when you take it to a bike shop for repair, and the shop owner tells you to just buy a new one.

Ok Ok, so that’s not the big news.

The big news is that I am unemployed.

But don’t worry too much, luckily it’s only temporary!

Quick recap, when we moved to Groningen it took me about three months to find a job. I ended up working for a small biotechnology company, Mucosis, who was developing a nasal spray vaccine for RSV. When I joined, the company was expanding to prepare for entering Phase 1 clinical trials.

Fast forward ~2.5 years, and a lot of hard work later, we met all the necessary criteria, and our vaccine went to Phase 1 clinical trials! This in itself is quite an accomplishment for a team of ~15 people.

Fast forward another 6 months, and Mucosis is bankrupt.

Unfortunately, the vaccine did not meet the criteria to progress to Phase 2. The goal of a Phase 1 trial is safety, and because we are testing a vaccine, you are also able to get preliminary data in how effective the product is. Very generally speaking, vaccines should stimulate an immune response, which should then allow the body to remember the pathogen & protect against it in the future. Our vaccine was safe, but it also gave no indication that it was going to be effective.

And when you’re a small company with no product for sale, you rely on investors for funding. I think it goes without saying, but the investors decided to pull out leaving Mucosis bankrupt.

Honestly, we knew this was always a possibility. It’s the nature of working for a small company, but it was also one of those ‘that will never happen to us’ kind of scenarios.

Now, I’m going to get a little bit mushy, because of course I’m bummed to not have an income, but I’m more bummed to leave this team of fantastic people. Our small team felt like family, and that was invaluable considering all my friends and family are a literal ocean away. Here, I was able to be my actual self, and still learn a hell of a lot career wise.

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Each and every person in this company taught me something that I will take with me.

Some science-related (ELISA troubleshooting… amiright?!)

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Some personal (‘zin van vandaag’)

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Regardless, words can’t express my gratitude for Mucosis, and the impact it had on my life. So, to my Mucos-was colleagues should you ever see this, THANK YOU for being mentors & friends.

Ok, enough with the mush. On to the good news!

I got a new job!

Starting mid-September, I will be a Senior Analyst in the bioanalytical lab of PRA Healthcare (which oddly enough, is headquartered in Raleigh, NC).

This will be a promotion for me. I will be moving into more of a leadership role in the lab, which is exactly what I want. And, to Shane’s delight, I will actually have to commute in Dutch weather to work each day. The company is located in Assen, which is about a 20 minute bus ride from Groningen Central train station.

And, as tradition dictates, I was rewarded for said new job with a trip to the Pannekoekschip! Gah, I love pancakes.

(Shane did say this better be my last celebratory trip to the ship while we live in Groningen… I guess he has a point)

So, that’s the update! I’ve got a lot of free time right now, which some might think ‘oh! how nice, the summer off!’. Well, my friends, it’s been about 17-20Β°C (62-68Β°F) since I’ve officially taken on my housewife role, so if you could tell real summer to head my way that would be much appreciated.

I’ll be heading to the U.S. in a couple of weeks for a family visit but until then…

Tot ziens!

Whitney

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We are two Americans living in the Netherlands with our fat cat, Meatball. The Shwits is a diary of our time abroad!

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