Written by

Leen-Jan van Doorn, PhD

Chief Business Officer at Viroclinics – DDL Diagnostic Laboratory, Rijswijk, The Netherlands

Joost Gribnau, PhD

Developmental Biology Head Department, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Bernhard Kleter, PhD

Senior Scientist, Cerba Research, Rijswijk, The Netherlands

Anco Molijn, MSc

Credenza Consultancy, Giethmen, The Netherlands

Henk van den Munckhof, BSc

Process Coordinator, Methylomics B.V., Rijswijk, The Netherlands

Wim Quint was born in 1951 in the southern part of the Netherlands. He received his master education at the University of Nijmegen with a focus on molecular biology and biochemistry. In 1984, he obtained his PhD at the same university, where he worked with Dr. Anton Berns (who later became director of the Dutch Cancer Institute) on genome integration and germline transmission of endogenous murine leukemia virus and generation of recombinant viruses, a topic at the intersection of virology and molecular biology.
In 1985 he moved to the city of Delft, to set up the new Department of Molecular Biology at the Diagnostic Center of the Reinier de Graaf Hospital, under the supervision of pathologist Dr. Jan Lindeman.
Delft is the city where in the 17th century, the famous Antoni van Leeuwenhoek observed microorganisms for the first time and made many more exciting discoveries with his new and powerful microscopes. Inspired by this history and the impact and beauty of this technology Wim Quint and Jan Lindeman built an impressive and museum-quality collection of hundreds of microscopes over the decades of their collaboration and friendship (https:// stichtinghistorischemicroscopie.nl/en/ ).
In 1994, the hospital laboratory in Delft entered into a joint venture with the biotech company Innogenetics (Ghent, Belgium) to further explore the possibilities of developing molecular diagnostics assays that could be directly applied to patient care. This joint venture was aptly named “Delft Diagnostic Laboratory” and abbreviated as DDL.
Wim has always stayed close to the field of molecular virology (and bacteriology) and was gradually more interested in Human Papillomavirus, which became the main focus of his research interest.
One of the main research issues in this field was to confirm that virtually all cervical carcinomas are related to HPV infection. This required ultrasensitive detection and identification of HPV-DNA in clinical samples. Between 1994 and 1998 Wim and his team developed such an assay, named Short PCR Fragment (SPF10; the number 10 reflected the number of PCR primers in the assay). Since this PCR amplifies only a very short part (65 bp) of the L1 gene of virtually all HPV genotypes, the sensitivity was extremely high. The sensitivity was so high, that an unexpectedly high proportion of the samples showed the presence of multiple HPV genotypes.
The data generated with this new assay resulted in multiple, very critical reviews of submitted papers since some reviewers were convinced that the observations were due to laboratory contaminants. Wim’s team was able to provide strong evidence of the accuracy of the SPF10 test, and since then, hundreds of peer-reviewed publications have included data generated with this assay.
Around the year 2000, the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline expressed interest in the expertise of DDL and the SPF10 assay to support the development of their Cervarix HPV vaccination program. This was the start of an intense collaboration, not only with GSK, but also with research groups at the NIH, ICO, Costa Rica, CICAMS and many other labs around the world.
Over the years, Wim has been involved in numerous studies and collaborations. This is clearly illustrated by the fact that Wim was (co)-promotor of many PhD students and is (co)-author of more than 400 peer-reviewed publications in renowned journals.
DDL became an independent company in 2003, which means that Wim was not only a researcher but also became an entrepreneur. However, his primary interest always remained in research.
Using Laser Capture Microdissection in combination with the SPF10 assay, he was able to convincingly confirm the “one virus – one lesion” hypothesis in CIN lesions.
More recently, he became interested in epigenetic changes associated with various types of cancers related to HPV. Therefore, he launched a new start-up company, called Methylomics, which entirely focuses on the development of assays detecting cancer associated DNA methylation changes.
Wim was also involved in the complex process of introducing vaccination against HPV in the Netherlands, and he actively participated in projects at the academic and governmental level. He was an advisor of the Advisory Board of the Health Council in the Netherlands.
Although Wim was a very driven researcher and entrepreneur, he certainly had broader interests in life. He loved painting, was very interested in arts and he supported local community initiatives to promote culture and creativity.
Above all, his primary interest was always his family. He was a dedicated husband to his wife Ans, a proud father of Koen, Sanne and Wim junior, and an even prouder grandfather of six grandkids.
Wim will be dearly missed by all of us.

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