16 June

Spinoza award for Alexander van Oudenaarden

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Very proud to announce that Alexander van Oudenaarden receives the Spinoza award, the biggest prize for scientists in the Netherlands.

Alexander van Oudenaarden has been given the Spinoza award for his exceptional, pioneering and inspiring work. He has been praised by his peers as a pioneer in single-cell biology, and he is considered to be a global authority in this new field.

Van Oudenaarden is director and group leader at the Hubrecht Institute (KNAW), which works closely with the University Medical Center Utrecht, and he is professor of quantitative biology of gene regulation at the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Medicine at Utrecht University.

Van Oudenaarden investigates the way in which cells in organisms use networks of genes and proteins to develop into different kinds of cells with specific properties and functions. His research group works with advanced (light) microscopy and sequencing technologies in order to study individual cells. For example, his research helps to make clear that cancer cells are often extremely heterogeneous. That insight has resulted in tailored chemotherapy.

One of his strengths is developing new methods. His group combines techniques – in part developed by themselves – from developmental biology, molecular biology, physics, mathematics and computer science. Van Oudenaarden considers it very beneficial to integrate all of these techniques and to bring the researchers who specialise in them together in one place. It makes the work more interesting for everyone and increases the chances of making discoveries.

The NWO Spinoza Prize is the highest scientific distinction in the Netherlands. The Spinoza is not only an honour but also an incentive to perform further research that has a major impact within and outside the field as well as an inspiration to younger researchers.

The other laureates this year are the developmental psychologist Eveline Crone, analytical chemist Albert Heck and physical chemist Michel Orrit. The laureates will each receive 2.5 million euros which they can spend on scientific research.

“Topscience is teamwork” – Alexander van Oudenaarden



Main/header picture: NWO, Ivar Pel