2021 - Hans Clevers

Group leader at the Hubrecht Institute for Developmental Biology and Stem Cell Research and at the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology (Utrecht), Professor at the University Utrecht and Oncode Investigator.

Motivation


Clevers is being honored for a series of breakthrough discoveries that led to the development of mini-organs, now called organoids, and is widely considered one of the world’s leading experts on adult stem cell biology.

The ability to generate organoids from stem cells has been an essential first step towards the growth of the regenerative cancer medicine field. This unique cancer model system has also been instrumental in establishing new avenues of research involving the testing of novel anticancer therapeutics on tissues derived from tumors and cultured as organoids.

Early in his career, Clevers’ research group first studied intestine behavior in normal physiological states.

During these studies, his group cloned the transcription factor TCF1, which has since been proven to be a vital component in the Wnt signaling pathway. Next, Clevers demonstrated the link between Wnt signaling and adult stem cell biology by demonstrating that TCF4 gene disruption leads to the abolition of small intestine crypts, while targeted knockout of the TCF1 gene severely disables the stem-cell compartment of the thymus.

Together with Bert Vogelstein, he also showed that mutations in the Wnt signaling pathway are capable of contributing to colon cancer onset and progression. This finding has since propelled countless research efforts focused on the development of novel anticancer therapeutics that precisely target the Wnt signaling pathway.

His pioneering research into stem cell biology, which led to the establishment of organoids as an essential model system for cancer research, has deepened our understanding of cancer’s origins and revolutionized cancer drug development to the great benefit of patients worldwide.

Dr. Hans Clevers, winner of the 2021 Pezcoller Foundation - AACR Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Cancer Research

About the Winner:

Clevers earned his medical degree (1984) and doctorate in biology (1985) at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands.
He is now the principal investigator at the Hubrecht Institute for Developmental Biology and Stem Cell Research, and the principal investigator at the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology, Utrecht. Additionally, he is an investigator at the Oncode Institute in the Netherlands, and a professor in Molecular Genetics at the University Medical Center in Utrecht.

He received more than 34 national and international Awards, he is author of around 700 scientific research papers, with more than 120.000 citations.


The Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Cancer Research will be presented to Hans Clevers, MD, PhD, at the virtual AACR Annual Meeting 2021, to be held April 10-15.

The traditional Award Ceremony in Trento (Italy) will be organized in Autumn or virtually, considering the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic.



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