Hans Clevers is professor of Molecular Genetics at Utrecht University and the UMC Utrecht, Principal Investigator at the Hubrecht Institute (KNAW) and the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology and Oncode Investigator.
Stem cells and organoids
Hans Clevers became famous with his stem-cell research into healthy and sick intestines. The inner coating of the intestine, the epithelium, is renewed once every 4-5 days. At the same time, intestinal stem cells produce new cells at a high rate. This enormous production of cells makes the intestine sensitive to the development of cancer. Clevers discovered in 1997 how a derailment of this normal cell production results in the formation of polyps, an early stage of cancer. Building on this, his research group identified the intestinal stem cell and developed methods to grow these stem cells in a laboratory into 'mini intestines' (organoids).
Clevers has been awarded numerous prizes for his research, including the Spinoza Prize (2001), the highest academic distinction in the Netherlands, and the Heineken Prize for Medicine (2012). In 2013 he was awarded the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
Clevers’ research falls within the research domains Regenerative Medicine and Personalised Medicine and Health, part of Utrecht University’s research theme Life Sciences. Life Sciences research in Utrecht is interdisciplinary by nature and combines fundamental, clinical, translational and applied research. It ranges from molecule to man, from organism to population and from bench to bedside.