And the first VIB Alumni Award goes to … Peter Van Loo!

23 February 2017

In only 20 years, VIB has become a household name within the international life sciences sector. To a large extent, we owe this to top-notch researchers who have made great strides in biotechnology and its related domains. That is why we launched the first VIB Alumni Award: to honor some great scientists who once worked for VIB.

From four selected nominees, only one could bring the main trophy home. VIB founding father Désiré Collen together with Philippe Muyters, Flemish Minister for Work, Economy, Innovation and Sport, handed out the award to Peter Van Loo (Francis Crick Institute in London), based on a unanimous decision from VIB’s founding fathers and mother: Marc Van Montagu, Walter Fiers, Désiré Collen, Herman Van den Berghe (who unfortunately passed away a few weeks before the ceremony) and Christine Claus. They based their decision on criteria such as scientific endeavors, social relevance and personal engagement.

In their words: Peter Van Loo represents the mission of the VIB Alumni Award, he is an excellent scientist and his research results and findings have already been translated into clinical practice such as CALR mutation testing, which is already used in the clinic for diagnosis of myeloproliferative neoplasms .

Peter Van Loo: “I’m deeply honored by this award. I have very fond memories of the time I spent at VIB and I have been profoundly shaped as a scientist by my training in the lab of Peter Marynen.”

10 proposals, 4 nominees
VIB employees were able to cast their vote, which resulted in 10 submitted files. The VIB Alumni Board pre-selected 4 nominees, based on criteria such as leadership in the field, tangible societal results and the scientist’s impact on the research community.

  • Peter Van Loo (Group Leader at Francis Crick Institute)
    A true VIB veteran, Peter started his career at the Peter Marynen lab (VIB-KU Leuven) in 1996. Through initial studies in breast cancer and lymphoma, he developed an interest in cancer research. His studies of cancer genomes laid the foundations for many further research projects and have enabled unprecedented insights into tumor evolution.
  • Nathalie Pochet (Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School)
    From 2007 to 2008, Nathalie worked as a postdoc at the Yves Van de Peer lab (VIB-UGent). Today, her contributions to the leveraging of computational genomics to better understand diseases play a critical role at Harvard Medical School and MIT. Her continued success at Harvard has yielded her a promotion to Assistant Professor.
  • Rafael Van Den Bergh (Senior Fellow at Médecins Sans Frontières)
    After starting his career in 2003 as a PhD researcher at the Patrick De Baetselier lab (VIB-VUB), Rafael joined Médecins Sans Frontières in 2011 to put his scientific epidemiology knowledge to the service of humanity. Thanks to his role during the Ebola crisis, he was one of the thousands of Ebola frontline workers who were named ‘Person of the Year’ by TIME in 2014.
  •  Emmanuel Buys (Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School)
    Soon after Emmanuel obtained his PhD at the Peter Brouckaert lab in 2003, he was recruited by the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston. His track record ranges topics such as anesthesia, glaucoma, gastrointestinal mobility and brain and lung development. This diversity is underlined by his recent promotion at Harvard Medical School to Associate Professor in Anesthesia and Associate Professor in Ophthalmology.

Congratulations to all nominees and thanks to everybody who cast a vote!



Désiré Collen, Peter Van Loo and  Philippe Muyters
©VIB-Ine Dehandschutter


Peter Van Loo