Hans Clevers on Future of Stem Cell Research
  Hans Clevers     Biography    
Recorded: 29 May 2008

Yeah, so we wonder a lot where our research will be in be in the next five or ten years. With what we have in hand now, which is essentially a mouse with stem cells [unintelligible], they have the protein in many tissues, not only in the gut but they have it in many tissues. We can see these stem cells while they divide, we can sort them out, we can filter them, we can convert them into cancer cells, and we can study their roles in tumors, while tumors are evolving. So I think that is where we will be very very busy, to really study isolated stem cells which is rather unique in the world, that you can isolate large numbers of pure stem cells, culture them, and study their role in disease and possibly also—well, one other aspect is that we’ve been able to grow the mouse, we can take a few stem cells and grow them into massive amounts of tissue, and we hope to be able to develop that into regenerative medicine applications. Yesterday I spoke to somebody at MIT who’s interesting in building an artificial gut, so we’re going to make a scaffold that we’ll seed with our stem cells and very likely we’ll be able to create a tube that might behave as a gut.

That’s his specialty, this is a scientific discipline in itself, so what do you use to support the cells? So some of these materials will actually allow cells to seed, to grow on, but then the cells replace this material by binding materials that reproduce themselves. So they really serve as a scaffold to build an organ, but in the end you end up with an organ that no longer has any artificial aspects to it.

Hans Clevers obtained his MD degree in 1984 and his PhD degree in 1985 from the University Utrecht, the Netherlands. His postdoctoral work (1986-1989) was done with Cox Terhorst at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of the Harvard University, Boston, USA.

From 1991-2002 Hans Clevers was Professor in Immunology at the University Utrecht and, since 2002, Professor in Molecular Genetics. Since 2002, he is director of the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht.

Hans Clevers has been a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2000 and is the recipient of several awards, including the Dutch Spinoza Award in 2001, the Swiss Louis Jeantet Prize in 2004, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Katharine Berkan Judd Award in 2005, the Israeli Rabbi Shai Shacknai Memorial Prize in 2006, and the Dutch Josephine Nefkens Prize for Cancer Research and the German Meyenburg Cancer Research Award in 2008. He obtained an ERC Advanced Investigator grant in 2008. He is Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur since 2005.


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