Going with Your Gut Instinct
Sitting Down With… Paul Peter Tak, President and CEO at Kintai Therapeutics
Stephanie Sutton | | Interview
What inspired your interest in the microbiome?
I’ve been interested in this field since before the term “microbiome” was coined. In the 1990s, I conducted research at Leiden University Medical Center on the role of microorganisms in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We were the first to take biopsies from the target tissues of inflamed joints of patients with RA and other forms of inflammatory joint disease, and analyze them using 16s PCR. We detected microbial DNA in different forms of arthritis and predicted that it would be derived from the gut.
There were a other things that I did after that, including working as a visiting scientist on sabbatical at the University of California, San Diego, being a Professor of Medicine and Head of a large academic department at the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam, and serving as Chief Immunology Officer and a Senior Vice President at GlaxoSmithKline. My move to industry was actually sparked when someone asked me about my impact on patients. Did I think I could have a bigger impact by treating hundreds or thousands of patients as a physician, or by developing medicines that may affect the lives of millions of patients?
I didn’t work on the microbiome at GSK, but I’ve always remained interested in the field.
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