Polymer chemist Jan van Hest has been awarded the Spinoza Prize, the highest distinction in Dutch science. He is pioneering a new research field at the interface of polymer chemistry and biology. Van Hest was the first to produce polymersomes: empty spheres that can be filled with proteins or drugs and then inserted into a cell. The Spinoza Prize is linked to an amount of 2.5 million euros.
Jan van Hest (1968) is Professor of Bio-organic Chemistry at Eindhoven University of Technology. He designs and develops new and advanced materials and catalytic processes that combine artificially produced molecules with biological components, such as nanoreactors that can be deployed as artificial organelles in living cells to initiate reactions with enzymes.
The Spinoza committee praises Van Hest’s unique approach, that combines his broad skills from chemistry, polymer chemistry and biology. “We expect that Van Hest will make significant steps in the coming years to realise his dream of a completely artificial life.”
The NWO Spinoza Prize has been awarded since 1995 to top scientists who contributed to science with outstanding, pioneering and inspiring work. Besides Jan van Hest, Nynke Dekker (TU Delft), Pauline Kleingeld (University of Groningen) and Sjaak Neefjes (Leiden University) will also receive this premium. They will each receive 2.5 million euros, to be spent on scientific research and activities related to the use of knowledge. The prizes will be awarded on 30 September 2020 during a festive meeting in The Hague.
More information about Jan van Hest, his background and pioneering work can be found on the website of TU/e.
Featured item: Professor Jan van Hest
Source featured item: NWO, photo: Studio Oostrum/Hollandse Hoogte