KEIO UNIVERSITY MEDICAL SCIENCE FUND


The 2019 Keio Medical Science Prize Awardees

Hans C. Clevers, M.D., Ph.D.

Hans C. Clevers, M.D., Ph.D.

- Professor in Molecular Genetics, University Medical Center Utrecht
- Principal Investigator at Hubrecht Institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy and at Princess Máxima Center for pediatric oncology



Website
https://www.hubrecht.eu/research-groups/clevers-group/

Reason for Selection and her Major Achievement:

Wnt signaling in Stem Cells and Organogenesis

The Wnt molecular family is known to include many extremely important biological signals that regulate development, differentiation, stem cell maintenance, and carcinogenesis. Dr. Hans C. Clevers first isolated and identified the T-cell factor (Tcf) family, the most important transcription factor in Wnt signal activation, and he has consistently studied Wnt signaling thereafter. Dr. Clevers proposed that Wnt signaling is involved in stem cell regulation, organogenesis and tumorigenesis, and identified Lgr5 as a downstream target gene of Wnt. By tracking Lgr5 expression, Dr. Clevers' research group has made it possible to visualize stem cells in vivo. In addition, he developed organoid technology that makes it possible for intestinal epithelial stem cells to grow outside the body indefinitely. This technology can also be used with various other tissue stem cells, such as those from liver, pancreas, stomach, and lung. Dr. Clevers' work in these areas has contributed greatly to elucidating the pathology of various diseases, including cancer.

Background

Education

1975 - 1982
M.Sc. Biology, University of Utrecht
1978 - 1984
M.D. University of Utrecht
1984 - 1985
Ph.D. University of Utrecht

Positions

1985 - 1989
Postdoctoral Fellow. Cox Terhorst Lab at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston MA, USA
1989 - 1991
Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical Immunology, University of Utrecht
1991 - 2002
Professor and Chairman, Dept. of Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Utrecht
2002 - 2012
Director of the Hubrecht Institute, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
2012 - 2015
President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (KNAW), Amsterdam
2015 - 2019
Chief Scientific Officer/Director Research of the Princess Máxima Center for pediatric oncology, Utrecht
2002 -
Professor in Molecular Genetics, University Medical Center Utrecht
2002 -
Principal Investigator of a research group of ~40 scientists at the Hubrecht Institute, Utrecht
2015 -
  
Principal Investigator at the Princess Máxima Center

Major Honors/Awards

2004
Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland
2011
The Ernst Jung Medical Award, Germany
2012
The Heineken Prize for Medicine
2013
The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences
2016
The Körber European Science Prize, Germany

Comments

It is a great honour for me to be awarded the 2019 Keio Medical Science Prize and to receive this prize together with Prof. Tadamitsu Kishimoto. A major reason for the award is the development of three-dimensional culture systems for human mini-organs in a dish, also known as organoids. The key experiments for this technology were done by a young Japanese scientist in my lab, Dr. Toshiro Sato, who was recently promoted to professor at Keio University.

Tadamitsu Kishimoto, M.D., Ph.D.

Tadamitsu Kishimoto, M.D., Ph.D.

・Professor, Immunology Frontier Research Center, Osaka University

Reason for Selection and his Major Achievement:

IL-6: From Molecule to Medicine

Professor Tadamitsu Kishimoto first discovered interleukin 6 (IL-6) as an antibody production-promoting factor. He subsequently succeeded in cloning of the genes encoding IL-6 and the IL-6 receptor, and elucidated the mechanism underlying IL-6 signal transduction. His group further showed that IL-6 is involved in various diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and multiple myeloma. Based on this basic research, Dr. Kishimoto developed tocilizumab, an anti-IL-6 receptor antibody that inhibits the action of IL-6, and established it as a therapeutic strategy for Castleman's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Kishimoto has made enormous contributions to our understanding of the biological and medical roles of IL-6, from its discovery, to the elucidation of its mechanism of action and therapeutic applications, as well as to cytokine research. His achievement is undoubtedly worthy of the Keio Medical Science Prize.

Background

Education

1964
M.D. Osaka University
1969
Ph.D. Osaka University

Professional Appointments

1991-1998
Professor and Chairman, Department of Medicine III, Osaka University Medical School
1995-1997
Dean, Osaka University Medical School
1997-2003
President, Osaka University
2004-2006
Member, Council for Science and Technology Policy, Cabinet Office
2007-
Chairman of the Board of directors, Senri Life Science Foundation
2011-
Professor, Immunology Frontier Research Center, Osaka University

Major Honors/Awards

1992
Imperial Prize from the Japan Academy
1998
The Order of Culture from Emperor
2009
The Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
2011
The Japan Prize
2017
King Faisal International Prize from Saudi Arabia

Professional Activities

1995
Member, the Japan Academy
2007
President, the 27th General Assembly of the Japanese Medical Association
2010
President, the 14th International Congress of Immunology

Comments

It is truly my pleasure to receive this prestigious prize in recognition of my forty years of research on IL-6, the discovery of which, together with IL-6 signal transduction, have led to the development of the anti-IL-6 receptor antibody. This antibody is now widely used in more than a hundred countries for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), giant cell arteritis, and cytokine storm and has saved millions of patients. I am also extremely pleased that our series of studies has helped inform many internationally recognized immunologists. I am now 80 years old, but this kind of honor encourages me to continue my research. Thank you very much.

Past Prize Laureates