Hans Clevers
  • 2013 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences


Principal Investigator at the Hubrecht Institute for
Developmental Biology and Stem Cell Research and the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology, Professor of Molecular Genetics at the UMC Utrecht and Utrecht University. He received the 2013 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for “describing the role of WNT signalling in tissue stem cells and cancer”.

Education and Work Experience

1978-1984, M.D., University of Utrecht
2002-Present, Professor in Molecular Genetics, University Medical Center Utrecht
2012-2015, President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (KNAW), Amsterdam
2015-Present, Principal Investigator, the Princess Máxima Center

Honors and Awards

2012, Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Medicine
2013, Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences
2014, National Icon of the Netherlands (Hubrecht Organoid Technology (HUB) company)
2019, Keio Medical Science Prize

Major Academic Achievements

Wnt signals dictate cell fate decisions during animal embryogenesis. Clevers uncovered how Wnt signals control gene expression. Looking beyond embryogenesis, he unveiled the role of Wnt signalling in colon cancer and in its physiological counterpart, the self- renewing gut epithelium. Combining these insights, he described the generic marker gene Lgr5, which has identified multiple novel adult stem cell types. Against prevailing views, these stem cells could be expanded indefinitely as organoids: mini-organs recapitulating healthy or diseased human tissue in a dish. Organoids are now widely used in basic and applied biomedicine, occupying a niche between ‘classical’ 2D cell lines and experimental animals.