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

xplore the large variation in bacteria found in the human gastrointestinal tract. Using DNA analyses he irrefutably established that each individual person has a unique combination of intestinal bacterial species, which in part is determined genetically. This laid the basis for a new research field that aims to understand the relationship between the intestinal bacteria and the host's health. He expects that the diagnostics of intestinal bacteria will contribute to clear descriptions of specific diseases so that these can be treated better.

His most recent breakthrough is the revolutionary discovery of the 'improved petri dish'. He developed microchips that consist of millions of small chambers in which tiny quantities of bacteria, archaea, fungi or human cells can be cultured and characterised at the same time. With this he demonstrated that it is possible to isolate new species, as well as species not previously cultured.

Willem de Vos is a highly productive scientist. He is the author or co-author of more than 350 publications, about 50 chapters in books, the holder of 25 patents or patent applications and to date has supervised almost 75 Ph.D. students. And when developments within his discipline are not moving as fast as he would like then he pushes the field forward, for example, by organising international symposia, setting up new partnerships or stimulating start-up companies.

Willem de Vos is an energetic, highly driven and inspiring researcher, who, on top of that is also an outstanding science manager. Besides his many additional responsibilities on boards and advisory bodies, he always remains closely involved in the actual research activities. His zest for work, productivity and commitment are extremely impressive and the Spinoza Committee expects that he will be responsible for many new breakthroughs in the coming years.

This jury report served as the basis for the speech given by Prof. Gerard Meijer at the announce
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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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