2013 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences
For describing the role of WNT signaling in tissue stem cells and cancer.
Science is a community endeavor. Prizes are awarded to the most visible individuals in the science community. Yet behind these individuals, dynamic teams of often young, passionate researchers generate the breakthroughs that are celebrated with prizes. I would like to share this honor with the 100+ colleagues that have worked in my lab over the past 25 years and who all came to the ‘Breakthrough Amsterdam Weekend’ in September 2013 from around the world. I would also like to thank my first role model, the anonymous chemistry teacher who sold laboratory chemicals from his house, who inspired me to build a lab in our attic and to set off some spectacular explosions. My PhD advisor Rudi Ballieux, from whom I learned that trust is key: trust in colleagues, trust in scientists in general, and trust in oneself. To my family, Eefke, Sander and Max, who have always left room for what mostly is a passion but every so often becomes an obsession. And, finally, thanks to that most wonderful of human creations for allowing me into its ranks: Science.