Jan van Hest, a professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology, receives the prestigious Spinoza Prize. This means that he will receive a budget of 2.5 million euros to expand his research into artificial cells.
The professor is a leader in his research on artificial cells. He combines knowledge in the field of chemistry and biology. He has already succeeded in creating an artificial cell that can mimic the behaviour of a living cell. This technique can be used, for example, to allow medicines to enter human cells. For example, damaged cells can be repaired with certain proteins.
In a statement, the Spinoza committee praises Van Hest’s unique approach, in which he combines chemistry, polymer chemistry and biology: “We expect that Van Hest will be able to take important steps in the coming years to realise his dream of a completely artificial life.”
Van Hest is very happy with the award: “This Spinoza Prize is not only a tribute to my work, but also to the polymer sciences, which have been around for a hundred years this year. In my work I integrate this area with the domain of biology, so that we gain a better understanding of the molecular construction and function of living cells. We ultimately apply this knowledge in the development of more efficient therapies. ”
The brand new Spinoza laureate wants to use the award, among other things, to create artificial cells that can instruct living cells to show certain behaviour, he says. “They could, for example, encourage a living cell to grow into a muscle cell or a bone cell; this can be of enormous value to regenerative medicine. And you could also use such communicating cells for targeted drug delivery.”
The beauty of such an award is that you can do exploratory research with it, says Van Hest: “Without having to demonstrate in advance that it will work, as is the case when applying for subsidies. So we can now create exciting new lines.”
Rector magnificus Frank Baaijens sees the Spinoza Prize as recognition for Van Hest’s important research. Jan is an excellent scientist who does pioneering work in the field of bio-organic chemistry and biomedical applications. We are therefore very happy with this award. It shows that TU/e plays a key role in the development of synthetic cells. This will not only fundamentally change our view of the human body, but also pave the way for new revolutionary medicines.”