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Hans Clevers, MD, PhD

Hans Clevers, MD, PhD

Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
Hubrecht Institute
Utrecht, The Netherlands

Class of 2014

Much of what we know about intestinal physiology and cancer can be attributed to the work of Dr. Clevers and his laboratory. His group first studied normal intestine behavior in normal physiological states. During these studies, the group cloned the transcription factor TCF1, which has since been characterized to be a vital component in the Wnt signaling pathway. Next, Dr. Clevers demonstrated the link between Wnt signaling and adult stem cell biology by showing 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. At the same time (and with Bert Vogelstein) he showed that activating Wnt mutations underly colon cancer.

Dr. Clevers was the first to identify stem cells in the intestine and is an authority on cell biology and regenerative therapy. He has been able to grow “mini-intestines” from stem cells, an essential first step toward regenerative medicine. He has been instrumental in establishing a new foundation that will test anti-cancer medicines on living tissues derived from tumors and cultured as mini-organs (organoids). This research is anticipated to lead to the development of a variety of novel drugs capable of being utilized to specifically target the unique genetics of an individual patient’s tumor, technology that holds great promise for the future of precision cancer medicine.

Career Highlights

2013 Breakthrough Prize in the Life Sciences
2013-2016 Board of Directors, AACR
2012 Heineken Prize for Medicine, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
2012 Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion
2012 Elected Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2012 Léopold Griffuel Prize, Association pour la Recherche sur le Cancer
2011 Kolff Prize
2009 Dutch Cancer Society Award
2005 Katherine Berkan Judd Award, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
2004 Chevalier, Legion of Honor (France)
2004 Prix Louis-Jeantet de médecine, Fondation Louis-Jeantet
2001 Spinoza Award
2000 Elected Member, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
1985 PhD, University of Utrecht
1984 MD, University of Utrecht