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A healthy immune system is balanced

A healthy immune system is balanced

Over the past year, our immune system received more attention than ever. COVID-19 shows how important an active immune system is as a defense. But did you know that almost 1 in 10 people in the Benelux has an immune-mediated disease?1 In immune-mediated diseases, the immune system is often overactive and out of balance. This balance is crucial for our body: for the peace within. On the International Day of Immunology on April 29, we put the power of our immune system in the spotlight. In this regard, we asked four colleagues how their work contributes to a balanced immune system and what keeps them in balance, especially in the past year in which everything was different.

Caroline van Coppenolle - Senior Medical Advisor Immunology


Caroline knows all the ins and outs of the complex immune system. As Senior Medical Advisor Immunology, she ensures a good balance between Janssen, practitioners, scientists, professional associations and the wishes of the patient. “We make connections in the Belgian work field based on the needs of patients. What could be improved, for exampe, in clinical studies or in current therapies” says Caroline. “I like to dive into the literature to stay up to date with the latest publications and visions that physicians would like to work towards”. To keep herself well-balanced, Caroline enjoys going out with her family and can be found on the padel court very often.


“I have rediscovered the whole region around Antwerp since the corona crisis. The four of us often go on long bike rides, which is great fun”

Menko van der Blom – Operations / warehouse


Menko has been working at Janssen Biologics in Leiden for ten years now. He once started as a warehouse operator, and is now active as supervisor of the distribution team for the COVID-19 supply chain. He organizes everything around the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. “The factory is now running at full speed”, says Menko. He certainly doesn’t shy away from challenges, and Menko immediately raised his hand when a distribution process had to be developed for the COVID-19 vaccines. A very balanced process from start to finish, and at the slightest hitch, the balance is out. “The great thing is that since this year everyone suddenly understands what I actually do, where before they only knew that I work at a drug manufacturer.” On the weekends, Menko doesn’t sit still and likes to throw himself into DIY projects around the house and sporty challenges such as a triathlon.

“Due to COVID-19, everything now happens in multitude. In a short time, we have set up a new distribution process that meets all current requirements”

Julie Berger – Medical Therapeutic Area Lead Gastroenterology

Julie has a real passion for science. The former pharmacist explains: “Even during my studies and doctoral research at the University of Brussels, it was already clear: I want to know from start to finish how a medicine works and what the effects are.” As Medical Therapeutic Area Lead Gastroenterology at Janssen, Julie is collecting and interpreting new scientific data and in sets up collaborations with local partners in Belgian healthcare. “I always look for the added value for the patient. It is crucial that physicians have the most up-to-date information and data. This is how I contribute to better treatment for our patients”. Julie’s work focuses on how disease processes work and how certain medicines can help restore balance to the body. To keep herself in balance, Julie likes to explore nature. “Nature has so many wonders, some of which we don’t even see anymore”. She prefers to visit these wonders of nature while hiking or biking with the family, and likes to capture them with her camera.

“Maybe one day we will have a world where certain diseases no longer exist because we can detect and tackle them very quickly. That’s fascinating, because in fact we are all potentially a patient”

Yannick van Oostveen – Operations


During the corona crisis, Yannick took a leap of faith: he switched from the hospitality industry to a job as an operator at Janssen Biologics. Now he works every day on making buffers that form an important link in the production of biological medicines and vaccines. His curiosity and eagerness to learn have driven him to dive into the world of immunology. “Autoimmune diseases have a lot of impact. I take that very seriously and I do my work with full attention. You can make a big difference in other people’s lives”, he says. In his free time, Yannick is equally curious. “I’m always looking for things to fully immerse myself in. This can be new artists, music or books, I am always trying to learn something new”. By continuing to develop himself, he maintains balance in his personal life.

“In the back of my mind, I’m always thinking about people who are or could become really sick from an immune disease. That’s a strong motivation to do this work”

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EM-59662 - 18-apr-2021


1 Cooper G, Bynumb M and Somersc E. Recent insights in the epidemiology of autoimmune diseases: Improved prevalence estimates and understanding of clustering of disease. J Autoimmune 2009;33:197–07.