Spinoza and Stevin prizes for LUMC professors
Sjaak Neefjes, professor of Chemical Immunology at the LUMC, has been awarded a Spinoza prize of 2.5 million euros. His colleague Ton Schumacher, professor of Immunotechnology affiliated with Leiden University, the LUMC and the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek cancer centre, has been awarded the Stevin prize, worth the same amount.
The Spinoza prize is the highest award that a scientist in the Netherlands can receive. Researchers who are awarded this prize are among the absolute top of their field. The newer Stevin prize is awarded to a researcher who has achieved major success in applying scientific knowledge within society. Researchers have to be nominated in order to be considered for an award. Both subsidies can also be awarded to a team of two or three researchers. Every year, four Spinoza prizes and two Stevin prizes are awarded.
According to the Spinoza committee, Professor of Chemical Immunology Sjaak Neefjes is 'an exceptional researcher whose intelligence is matched by his boldness', who is at the same time 'a man of many talents'. He earns this reputation because of his ability to combine insights from different fields. Neefjes: 'I am originally a chemist, but I believe it's important to combine insights from chemistry with cell biology and immunology. It's by looking beyond the boundaries of your own field and working with doctors and scientists from other disciplines that you arrive at the best insights.' Neefjes will use at least part of the 2.5 million euros to reintroduce anti-cancer medication that initially had too many harmful side-effects. He and his colleagues have since been able to reduce these side-effects.
Sjaak Neefjes talking about his Spinoza award
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Ton Schumacher has been awarded a Stevin prize. He is professor of Immunotechnology at Leiden University and the LUMC, but his primary position is as head of the Molecular Oncology & Immunology group at the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, a research institute and hospital specialising in cancer. Schumacher unravelled one of the fundamental basic conditions for immunotherapy against cancer. At the same time, he endeavours to apply the immunotherapies he develops in cancer treatment for patients. He works closely with clinical researchers and has set up a number of spin-off companies.