Head Netherlands Biosecurity Office, RIVM
Dr. Rik Bleijs (1972) is head of the Netherlands Biosecurity Office at the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). After finishing his PhD project in the fields of molecular biology and tumor immunology he has been working as a scientific coordinator of the Netherlands Advisory Commission on Genetic Modification (2002-2006). In 2006 he joined the RIVM and started at the department of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) Office where he is involved in the biosafety aspects and the environmental risk assessment of medical and veterinary gene therapy studies. He is a temporary biosafety expert at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for market approvals of GMOs and at the World Health Organization (WHO) for recombinant vaccines. At the GMO Office he is also coordinator of the Netherlands Gene Therapy Office to streamline the licensing and permit granting procedures for clinical gene therapy trials. Since 2009 he is involved in the political and scientific implementation of a coordinated biosecurity regime in the Netherlands as well as the installation of the Biosecurity Office in 2013. As head of the Biosecurity Office his main tasks are to advise the different ministries on biosecurity issues and to act as a bridge between the scientific biosafety and biosecurity professionals and the government. As a biosecurity expert he is also involved in various international biosecurity projects and initiatives (EU CBRN action plan, G7, EBRF, IEGBBR, BTWC), thereby supporting the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.