The Academy has awarded this year’s Academy Professor Prize to classicist Ineke Sluiter (Leiden University) and geneticist Hans Clevers (Utrecht University and Hubrecht Institute). Both researchers will receive the sum of EUR 1 million, which they can use at their discretion to fund scholarly or scientific research. The awards ceremony will take place on 23 June 2016 at the Trippenhuis Building in Amsterdam.
Academy Professor Prize
Starting in 2011, the Academy has conferred two separate Academy Professor Prizes a year, one to a Dutch researcher in the social sciences or humanities, and the other to a Dutch researcher in the natural, technical or life sciences. The Prize is intended for researchers who are between 54 and 59 years of age and whose lifetime achievements show them to be world-class in their field. The laureates are selected by international juries appointed by the Academy.
About Ineke Sluiter
Ineke Sluiter (56) is Professor of Greek Language and Literature at Leiden University. Her research focuses on language, literature and public discourse in classical antiquity. Few other scholars are as effective at connecting the concerns and interests of the ancient world to those of the present day.
Sluiter does not regard language studies as a sealed-off world, but rather as a window to universal issues, for example freedom of speech, education, and cultural identity.
Ineke Sluiter studied Greek and Latin Language and Culture at VU University Amsterdam, where she received her PhD in 1990. After working in several positions at various prestigious American universities (including University of Pennsylvania), she was offered a professorship at Leiden in 1999. Almost immediately, she launched the Penn-Leiden Colloquia on Ancient Values, a series of international conferences that continues to explore the relationship between language and ideology in the classical world.
From 2000 to 2011, Sluiter was the academic director of OIKOS, the national research school for classical studies in the Netherlands. She was one of the founders of the national ‘Anchoring Innovation’ programme, which explores how the ancient Greeks and Romans combined radical social innovation with a deep predilection for the past, as expressed in their use of language and in their literature. She has remained the academic director of this project, which probes the ‘human factor’ in technological innovation from a unique perspective – namely language – and explores whether societies accommodate or embrace innovation.
Sluiter publishes and presents her research in a broad range of disciplines, from history to philosophy and cognitive science, attesting to her ability to interpret the details of ancient grammar and rhetoric within a much broader conceptual context.
Ineke Sluiter has been an Academy member since 2012 and was inducted into the Academia Europaea a year later. In 2010 she received the Spinoza Prize, awarded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).
About Hans Clevers
Hans Clevers (59) is Professor of Medical Genetics at Utrecht University and heads a research group at the Academy’s Hubrecht Institute. Last year he also became the director of research of the new Princess Máxima Centre for paediatric oncology. Clevers is a trailblazer in research on adult stem cells and the role that they play in cancer and in the development of organoids for medical research.
Clevers commenced his career in science by studying cells and signalling proteins in the human immune system. He uncovered the key role that stem cells play in intestinal cancer and ultimately applied that knowledge to cultivate adult stem cells and grow them into three-dimensional organoids made of healthy intestinal tissue. These organoids can serve as simple model organs for testing the effects of drugs in the laboratory. Eventually, adult stem cells and organoids may be used to replace sick tissue in patients.
Clevers studied biology and medicine at Utrecht University. After receiving his PhD there, he spent four years at Harvard University. He then returned to Utrecht, where he became Professor of Molecular Genetics at UMC Utrecht and director of the Hubrecht Institute.
He has published more than 450 highly cited articles, many of them in such prestigious journals as Science, Nature and Cell. He has ten patents in his name.
Clevers has received several prestigious grants, including NWO’s Spinoza Prize (2001) and the European Research Council’s Advanced Grant (2008 and 2014). He is also the recipient of many prizes, including the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine (2011), the Prix Leopold-Griffuel, the William Beaumont Prize in Gastroenterology and the Heineken Prize for Medicine (2012), and one of the first Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences (2013).
Clevers is a member and former president of the Royal Academy. In 2012, he was inducted into American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2014 became an associate member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.