Marc Kaptein is proud of Twente

Marc Kaptein, medical director of vaccine manufacturer Pfizer, has been a well-known Dutchman ever since the arrival of COVID-19 and the accompanying vaccine. Even though he does not live in Twente anymore, he still has the down-to-earth Twente mentality. Marc: “The motto ‘just act normal, that’s crazy enough’ has been very helpful, both in my job and in my free time.”

In short

  • Marc Kaptein grew up in Twente but later left to discover the world. He studied medicine in Amsterdam, but he did not have enough innovation and speed as an assistant physician. 
  • He is involved with pharmaceutical innovations in his job as medical director of vaccine manufacturer Pfizer, but also with innovation in healthcare
  • He does not let go of his Twente roots because he is still proud of Twente

Global Goal

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Marc Kaptein studied medicine but could not find the innovation and speed he is so interested in as a doctor. Marc: “Innovation in healthcare is very important. We can help the growing future group of elderly people, even if there are fewer hands available. Of course, the corona crisis is nothing positive, but it is a time in which innovations are being accelerated. Creative innovations are a must!”


Marc Kaptein was born in Losser and moved to Wierden with his family when he was almost six years old. Marc: “I have always been interested in science. There is an excavation site in the middle of the village of Losser, and you could find many fossils there. A neighbour of mine was a geologist, and he told me a lot about it. That was very interesting to me even at the time!”


Marc knew from an early age that he wanted to study medicine. “You could say that I was a real nerd as a teen, which does not have to be a bad thing. I was very interested in science and convinced that I wanted to be a doctor. I chose to study medicine in Amsterdam, did several internships and eventually became an assistant physician at the Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics. However, I could not find enough innovation and speed in my job as an assistant physician, and I missed being challenged. I met another Dutchman during a holiday in Bali, and he is still my friend and mentor. He told me that, considering my interests and my CV, I should apply at Organon. I had a job there not much later.”

“You can take the boy out of Twente, but you cannot take Twente from the boy!”


Marc worked for Organon in Oss for two years before moving to New York to work for the company. “Organon was a wonderful company in the pharmaceutical sector, with many new and innovative medicines. I learned a lot about entrepreneurship, healthcare and medicines in New York, and we had a great time there. I like the Americans; the warmth and hospitality, but also the quick actions and risk-taking. But I never lost Twente’s sober mentality. The motto ‘just act normal; that’s crazy enough’ has been very helpful.


Marc and his family returned to the Netherlands after approximately six years. He worked at a start-up for a while in the Netherlands and then applied at Pfizer, where he now is the Medical Director.

Innovation in healthcare

Marc has always been interested in science, but he also likes innovation and speed. It is precisely this combination that makes his work so much fun. “Innovation in healthcare is very important. We are ageing as a society: we will soon have a big group of elderly people, while there is a decrease in the number of young people who can take care of them. The ratio of people who need (more) care compared to people who can provide care is becoming increasingly skewed, and that’s why healthcare innovation is crucial.”


There is always a lot of research into medicines for better and more efficient prevention and treatment, such as the corona vaccine. But innovation in healthcare goes beyond that. Marc: “Biosensors are very interesting to me, for example. Would it not be possible to observe patients at their own homes with sensors that monitor all vital functions after they’ve had surgery? This would relieve the healthcare burden and allows patients to recover in their own environment. That is often more pleasant for the patient as well. Speaking of sensors… there are hundreds of different sensors that can monitor all kinds of complaints and ailments. Think of monitoring vital functions and the blood sugar level or measuring a substance that indicates that someone may be having a heart attack. These sensors can be used to monitor vulnerable people remotely, and, in consultation with the patient, there can be intervened before acute care is needed. This can prevent a great deal of care and suffering (!). I would very much welcome this, looking at it from the perspective of medical technology, but we have to get used to it together and make sure it becomes normal. Many of these techniques come from start-ups from the University of Twente, and I think that’s great!”

“Creative innovation is very important.”

Developing talents

It is essential to Marc that students and young professionals continue developing themselves. “Pure science is great, but you have to be creative as well. Do something strange or different, and make sure you stand out. Science is beautiful, but think about how you can use it to achieve your goals. In other words, being creative within innovation is very important.”


“There are still opportunities, even now that everything seems impossible for a while due to COVID-19. We should not look at the crisis as something positive, but any crisis accelerates innovation. So take that chance, because now is a time for discovering inventions and innovations! I mainly get my energy from looking at what we can do for society right now.”

Twente roots

Marc has not lived in Twente for quite some time, but he still feels connected to Twente. “I still regularly visit my parents in Twente, and we often go to the beautiful Oerboerderij (Drostes, ed.) in De Lutte on family weekends. I know very few as beautiful places!”
“And yes… I do still have that down-to-earthness in me. I also apply it within my team: if you want to go fast, you have to go alone. But if you want to go far, you have to do it together. That does come from the Twente mentality of taking care of each other. Furthermore, I am still proud of Twente, especially when looking at all the innovation that takes place in Twente.”


Date: 25 February 2021 |

Source of tekst: Marc Kaptein / |


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