Tessy A.H. Hick obtained her MSc in Biotechnology at Wageningen University, the Netherlands in 2018. As part of this study program she completed a MSc thesis at the Laboratory of Virology supervised by Dr. Gorben Pijlman on the development of a next-generation chikungunya virus vaccine. This vaccine was based on secreted trimeric glycoprotein spikes produced by the baculovirus-insect cell expression system. Her interest in the large scale application of this expression system made her conduct an extra MSc thesis at the Bioprocess Engineering department under the supervision of Dr. Dirk Martens. In this second MSc thesis she studied the infection and production process of recombinant baculoviruses in serum free suspension Sf9 insect cells to develop an efficient industrial scale production process for arbovirus like particles. After successfully completing two theses, she carried out an internship at the Translational Vectorology Group at the Children’s Medical Research Institute in Sydney, Australia. Under the supervision of Dr. Leszek, she worked on a scalable production process of adeno-associated virus vectors by transient transfection of HEK293 suspension cells.
In 2018, she returned to the Laboratory of Virology as a PhD candidate in the arbovirus group of Dr. Gorben Pijlman. In her current research, she focuses on alphavirus RNA recombination and superinfection exclusion as part of the RepliSAFE project (https://www.nwo.nl/en/research-and-results/research-projects/i/21/28821.html). This research project evaluates the environmental safety of alphavirus replicon particle vaccines regarding the potential risk of RNA recombination with wildtype viruses.
Besides her interest in science, she enjoys being an active member and chair of the PE&RC PhD council (PPC). The PPC advises the PE&RC graduate school program coordinators and board, and organizes a variety of activities for PhD candidates.