Descartes-Huygens Prize for Benoit Viollet and Joost Gribnau

5 January 2016

Benoit Viollet and Joost Gribnau are the recipients of the 2015 Descartes-Huygens Prize. They have been awarded the prize for their outstanding research and their contribution to Franco-Dutch relations. The Descartes-Huygens Prize (EUR 23,000) is intended to cover the cost of their research residence in the Netherlands and France respectively.

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts And Sciences has awarded the annual Descartes-Huygens Prize since 1995.

DescartesHuygensPrize Viollet 220x267Benoit Viollet (born in 1968) is a molecular physiologist. He is affiliated with the prestigious Institute Cochin, part of the Université Paris Descartes, where he heads a research group that studies the physiological role of the energy sensor AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) in cells. AMPK plays an essential role in cardiac muscle metabolism.

Benoit Viollet is an outstanding and highly productive researcher. The jury was impressed by his citation score and his publication record of more than two hundred scientific publications in influential journals and books. Viollet received the Institut Benjamin Delessert Award in 2004 and the Nutrition Research Award in 2000. The Descartes-Huygens Prize will allow him to spend a six-month research period at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. The project includes a symposium for Dutch and French researchers in Paris.
Benoit Viollet’s website

DescartesHuygensPrize Gribnau 220x267Joost Gribnau (born in 1968) studies epigenetics and developmental biology. Since his appointment at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, he has concentrated on genomic imprinting, specifically X chromosome inactivation. X inactivation prevents female mammals, who normally have two X chromosomes (XX), from having twice as many X chromosomes as males, who only possess a single copy of the X chromosome (XY).

Joost Gribnau has made important contributions to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underpin inactivation. Probably his most notable publication dates from 2009 and reported on the discovery of a protein in the ubiquitin ligase family, Rnf12 [Jonkers et al. Cell. 139; 999-1011 (2009)]. The Descartes-Huygens Prize will enable Gribnau to continue and intensify collaboration between his team and their counterparts at the Institut Curie and the Collège de France, for example by frequent visits and by organising a meeting for both teams in Paris.
Joost Gribnau’s website

The Descartes-Huygens Prize was established by the French and Dutch governments in 1995 to recognise researchers for their outstanding work and their contribution to Franco-Dutch relations. It is awarded on a rotating basis to researchers in the humanities and social sciences, the natural sciences, and the life sciences. The prize money, EUR 23,000, is intended to cover the cost of a French researcher’s research residence in the Netherlands, and a Dutch researcher’s research residence in France. The Academy selects the French candidate for the prize. The Dutch candidate is selected either by the Académie des Sciences or (if the prize is being awarded in the humanities and social sciences) by the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques.