Dr. Mariëtte Driessens studied Medical Biology in Utrecht. This choice was not entirely coincidental, as she spent a lot of time in the hospital because of her brother with hemophilia. This sparked her interest in the medical field and treatments. 



After her studies, Mariëtte spent 15 years doing fundamental research. She did her PhD at the Netherlands Cancer Institute and did a postdoc about the cell’s cytoskeleton and endothelial cells. This has some interesting crossovers with the fundamental research being done in SYMPHONY. In 2005, Mariëtte left research. She was then asked by physicians with whom she worked together to write something for the patient society for a vascular disorder. This inspired her to do something that lay closer to her heart and personal situation, and she decided to become a volunteer for the NVHP. Since then, Mariëtte writes for Faktor, mostly reports of presentations by physicians. In 2011 she was asked to become board member Medical Affairs, a function she fulfilled for six years, and in that position she also got to know her current employer, the VSOP 


Professional achievements  

One of the most important accomplishments is being one of the founders and current board members of HemoNED, which is a collaboration between physicians and people with hemophilia. Within HemoNED, people with hemophilia and the NVHP have a structural and formal role. She says: “This also creates obligations for the NVHP, which aren’t always easy, but it is also a very important incentive to protect the interests of people with bleeding disorders, who we represent. I think that is really important.” 

 “HemoNED touches upon several topics that are similar to topics in SYMPHONY and it is very interesting to see what we can learn from each other. By being involved in HemoNED and SYMPHONY, I also remain involved in what’s happening in practice, rather than just being in the VSOP office in Soest.” 

 Another achievement is the NVHP working group ‘Zorg & Onderzoek’ (Care & Research), which Mariëtte founded in 2017 and in which she is still involved. This working group has also become an important sounding board and she considers it a privilege to represent the community in all its diversity. Mariëtte hopes that in the future this can even be expanded, by creating an online patient panel. 


The importance of SYMPHONY 

One thing Mariëtte appreciates most in SYMPHONY is the diversity of the work packages – fundamental research, diagnostics and treatment is all covered – as well as the diversity in researchers, physicians and patient representatives. All these stakeholders collaborate and have good contact with each other.  

 “At this moment we’re starting to reap the rewards of the research conducted over the last years and we’re also starting to see what is necessary for the future. This iterative process and continuous collaboration is really wonderful.” 

An important motivation for being part of SYMPHONY for Mariëtte is to remain informed and learn new things, which she can put in practice in her work as patient representative. 


Tips for a fun activity 

“Visit a small theater, such as Theater Kikker, or go “wild plukken”, i.e. gather wild herbs, vegetables and fruits from nature, and use them in your recipes. You can use the guide by Yvette van Boven for inspiration.”