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NWO/Spinoza Prize for literature, microbiology, physics and medicine
Date:6/2/2008

INOZA PRIZES 2008

Jury report for Prof. W.M. (Willem) de Vos
Professor of Microbiology at Wageningen University

Professor De Vos receives the NWO/Spinoza Prize 2008 for his groundbreaking research into the contribution of microorganisms such as bacteria to human food and health.

Willem M. de Vos (30 October 1954, Apeldoorn) obtained a master's degree in biology/biochemistry with distinction from the University of Groningen in 1978, where he subsequently gained his doctorate with distinction in 1983 for research that was partly carried out at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin. After a postdoctoral position in England, he started a research group at the Netherlands Institute for Dairy Research (now NIZO Food Research), where he became research manager in 1987. In that same year, Wageningen University appointed him as part-time professor of Bacterial Genetics and in 1994 he became full-time professor and chair of Microbiology. He has combined this chair with various directorships at the University and at scientific institutes, such as the Top Institute Food & Nutrition. Since 2007 he also holds a part-time position as Finland Distinguished Professor at the University of Helsinki.

De Vos is a leading expert in the molecular genetics of microorganisms, such as bacteria, archaea and fungi. For example, he has discovered that lactic acid bacteria communicate with each other by means of special peptides and that by producing these peptides they can even interfere with the growth of other microorganisms. He has also developed methods to specifically influence the metabolism of lactic acid bacteria so that the production of flavours, vitamins and sweeteners can be improved. His fundamental discoveries are applied on a large scale. His research has led to the development of lactic acid bacteria that can improve the taste and shelf life of cheese.

He was the first to use a multidisciplinary approach to e
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Contact: NWO, Department of Information and Communication
voorlichting@nwo.nl
31-703-440-713
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Source:Eurekalert

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