Honorary doctorates for Minouche Shafik and Professor João Mano

Research into regenerative therapies and social injustice in the spotlight

At this year's Dies Natalis on March 25th, Utrecht University has awarded two honorary doctorates to Professor João Mano and Baroness Shafik. Both demonstrate in their own way that combining research with public outreach is crucial to tackling issues such as social injustice, inequality and regenerative therapies. With these honorary doctorates, Utrecht University honours the researchers and their contribution to the social and scientific debate.

Baroness Minouche Shafik

Minouche Shafik

Untangling and reweaving the social fabric

The world is facing global challenges: Climate change, inequality and polarisation. If we want to collectively and effectively face these challenges, we need to build towards more generous and inclusive societies. But how? Baroness Shafik, leading economist, author and researcher has made it her life’s work to answer this question. At the core of Baroness Shafik’s work lies the powerful and hopeful message that a reordening of our societies is possible. Baroness Shafik provides much needed practical solutions to current challenges and demonstrates how we can build a better society, together.

She offers a thought-provoking rethinking of our social fabric.

What we owe each other

Her strength lies both in her broad knowledge of current international social and economic reality and in her ability to interpret and summarise this changing reality for a wide audience. Her latest, bestselling book What We Owe Each Other is a demonstration of Baroness Shafik’s unique approach, in which she combines policy, science and her own experience of working in institutions across the globe, resulting in a though-provoking rethinking of our social fabric.

Baroness Shafik's powerful, positive and urgent message is one that Utrecht University supports and echoes

Baroness Shafik’s work has a significant social impact. An economist by training, she has spent most of her career straddling the worlds of public policy and academia. Baroness Shafik’s social commitment is also reflected in her career: at 36, she became the youngest ever Vice President of the World Bank, and she has served on and chaired numerous boards. She is currently the director of the prestigious London School of Economics

An inspiration

Henk Kummeling, Rector Magnificus, is proud to confer this honorary doctorate to Baroness Shafik. “Her work is empowering people around the globe. It is a true honour to award this honorary doctorate to her. Her powerful, positive and urgent message is one that Utrecht University supports and echoes. We are looking forward to working together more closely with Baroness Shafik, and to let her work inspire us even more”, Kummeling, states. Moreover, Baroness Shafik’s writing, work and career align with Utrecht University’s strategic theme Institutions for Open Societies, and with the Centre for Global Challenges (UGlobe).

On March 28th, UGlobe is organising a keynote lecture with Baroness Shafik. Registration is free of charge, and there are still some seats left. You can register here.

Professor João Mano

Professor João Mano

Leading expert in regenerative therapies

Living longer often tips the balance of healthy living, and is punctuated with incidental events. Our quality of life can be altered for many reasons: aging, chronic illness, trauma and disease, and there is often no curative solution. If we find better ways to repair tissue and replace cells, we can better ensure a longer and healthy live. Professor João Mano (University of Aveiro, Chemistry) is a leading expert in the field of regenerative medicine, who has introduced many creative solutions that significantly impact on the field of regenerative therapies.

Improving the quality of life for for many patients suffering from currently incurable, chronic diseases

Pioneer in nano-technology and biomaterials development

With his research group, Prof. Mano explores the use of biomaterials and cells towards the development of multidisciplinary concepts. In particular, he pioneered the use of nano/micro-technology and biomimetic approaches with natural-derived biomaterials, such as polysaccharides or human-derived proteins, to obtain biomedical devices with improved properties to control the behaviour and organization of living cells. This has great potential for drug screening, as well as for the development of novel regenerative therapies. This in turn can help the quality of life for for many patients suffering from currently incurable, chronic diseases, such as osteoarthritis.

Professor Mano has a mission one can only admire: to prolong lives of people with chronic diseases

Prof. Mano’s societal and scientific impact is felt both inside and outside the academic community. He currently directs both Master and Doctoral Degrees in at the University of Aveiro, where he is providing a multicultural and multidisciplinary environment with training opportunities for many early career scientist and students. He has written over 700 articles or reviews in scientific international journals. He is a sought-after speaker, and has given lectures at international congresses.


Rector Magnificus Henk Kummeling: “It is a privilege for the academic community of Utrecht University to bestow an honorary doctorate upon João Mano. Prof. Mano is a truly inspirational and creative researcher, who has a mission that one can only admire: to prolong lives of people with chronic diseases. We hope that this honorary doctorate is the beginning of a more intense collaboration between Utrecht University and Prof. Mano’s research group” Prof. Mano’s work and research fits perfectly in Utrecht University’s strategic theme Life Sciences and Regenerative Medicine Utrecht.

Dies Natalis: Curious Collaborations

The awarding of the honorary doctorates took place on 25 March in the Dom Church, during the Dies celebration. The theme of this year's Dies was: Curious Collaborations.

Go to the full programme of the Dies Natalis