dr.ir. JJ (Joukje) Siebenga

dr.ir. JJ (Joukje) Siebenga

Programme Manager

The combined knowledge housed across WUR’s Departments and Institutes on animal infectious diseases and the global agri-food system, positions us uniquely to play a pivotal role in the early recognition of outbreaks of zoonotic, infectious diseases with pandemic potential, and a the design of rapid, appropriate and effective response measures. More importantly, our innate drive to take the One WUR approach to tackling complex challenges, makes that essential, broader expertise about economics, the social sciences, food safety and security, ethics, policy development, and communication is automatically considered in any WUR approach.

This is an exciting time for WUR to be establishing its pandemic preparedness programme. This programme builds on substantial prior work, including for example the KB theme Global One Health, and our significant role in the European Joint Programme One Health. At a national level, WUR is one of the founding partners of the Netherlands Centre for One Health.

As the Programme Manager of ERRAZE@WUR, Early Recognition and Rapid Action in Zoonotic Emergencies, I bring together researchers from across the university and Wageningen Research institutes to establish a solid base for an ambitious collaborative research programme, with a strong international outlook.
WUR takes on the challenge to generate timely insights into the possible scenarios for the prevention of a crisis, and to enable our clients and stakeholders to make informed decisions during and after emergencies. Moreover, WUR can provide a better understanding of the mechanisms of spillover, and develop tangible and practical tools to help reduce the risk of spillover events from occurring, prevent pathogen spread, or mitigate the impacts of a future pandemic. It is evident that the COVID-19 crisis has created a lot of energy among WUR researchers, to take on the challenge with even more energy than before. We with do this in close and continuous consultation with our national and international stakeholders.

I have a background studying BioProcess Engineering in Wageningen, and a PhD in Public Health Virology at the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) and the Erasmus Medical Centre. I have used and expanded this knowledge throughout my career, working on the interphase of research, and research translation, application and utilisation. Initially, I worked at Crucell, now the vaccine specialists of Johnson & Johnson, but I returned to the academic world to work in technology transfer and IP management, and public-private research funding and collaborations. I was lucky to do this not only in Utrecht, but also for an extended period at universities in New Zealand and Australia.

It is great to be able to utilise my international experience in establishing effective research collaboration and commercialisation pathways with my knowledge of, and drive to contribute to, the One WUR approach to pandemic preparedness and response.