International recognition for Peter Carmeliet - VIB,KU Leuven - as influential biomedical scientist

6 November 2014

​Top lecture about ‘Pushing the boundaries in research’ - Tuesday 18 November in Leuven

Peter Carmeliet, director of the VIB, KU Leuven Vesalius Research Center is world-renowned for his research into blood vessel formation and the neuro-vascular link (the fact that nerves and blood vessels follow the same pattern in our body). His research has provided groundbreaking insights into tumour development and the mechanism of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a deadly disease that paralyzes the muscles. The fact that this research has a significant impact has been confirmed by an international study that has placed Peter Carmeliet amongst the global top 400 most influential scientists in biomedical research. In addition to Peter Carmeliet, his predecessor Désiré Collen also features on this list.

Jo Bury (managing director VIB):  “Excellent research results in added value for society, that is the motto at VIB. Peter Carmeliet disseminates this message in all possible ways. He is a leading scientist who pushes the boundaries in research and aims to translate new insights into new therapies for terrible diseases such as cancer and ALS. Peter is a man with vision, perseverance and courage. He forms the foundation for the greatest discoveries with impact and he is an important role model for many (young) scientists.”

Top 400 most influential scientists in biomedical research
The scientific world is very competitive. What gets published - in which journal and the number of scientists that refer to it - plays an increasingly important role in decision-making processes. These figures and other information are used to determine the “impact” of a scientist. However, there is virtually no specification of what exactly that impact entails. In order to gain better insight into this, Kevin Boyack and his colleagues at SciTech Strategies Inc. drafted a list of the scientists in biomedical research with the greatest impact. They describe the top 400 as the most influential scientists who make a difference in the field. Due to their own impact, they also consider this group as well-suited to provide insight into what is important in research, what impact means, whether the current method for measuring impact is effective,... They will therefore use this group to gain a better understanding of this.

Top 400 in figures

  • 400 leading scientists selected from more than 15 million scientists in the biomedical field globally
  • h-index (index that reflects the career impact of a scientist) for Peter Carmeliet (based on articles published between 1996 and 2011): 88
    o Only 1 % of all scientists have an h-index over 20
    o The top 400: h-index over 76
  • Peter Carmeliet is the most cited Belgian biomedical scientist
  • Peter Carmeliet is the second most cited scientist globally in the field of research into blood vessel formation (angiogenesis)
  • In 2009, “Lab Times Online” ranked Peter Carmeliet as the second most cited European scientist in vascular biology (

Peter Carmeliet: “Of course it is a big honor to make this prestigious list for which the authors used not one, but several parameters to evaluate the impact and appeal of our work. Our article on mice that are no longer able to product the growth factor VEGF was the first to demonstrate the importance of VEGF in blood vessel formation. This article forms the basis of current cancer treatments that inhibit VEGF. The impact of this publication is significant, as evidenced by the roughly 2,500 citations. This was important own research, but a review about angiogenesis in a leading journal such as Nature can also have a significant impact on the direction of research (4,135 citations). We want to publish articles that matter, that - in other words - have the greatest possible biological or medical impact. Work that sets the trend in a field, provides an innovative insight or suggests new therapeutic opportunities. To achieve this you often have to think out of the box and take risks to try a new route and push the boundaries.”

Foundation for the future
On the one hand there is the impact of a scientist’s own research, but it is important not to stop there. With his Vesalius Research Center (VRC), Peter Carmeliet has built a research center with a further 7 dynamic research groups in addition to his own. The ultimate aim of VRC is to develop new therapies against cancer and ALS based on molecular insights. Carmeliet has gathered a critical mass of young, talented colleagues around him in order to make this search as successful as possible.
Peter Carmeliet: “Being willing to push the boundaries is essential to achieve progress in science. It is important to convince young scientists of this fact and to encourage them; to support them in a “who dares, wins” environment. Nothing gives more satisfaction that watching younger colleagues succeed. Due to his courage and creativity to think out of the box, my younger colleague Massimiliano Mazzone from our department was recently awarded the prestigious recognition of “EMBO Young Investigator” - a great achievement. In my lecture on 18 November I hope to emphasize the importance and value of “pushing boundaries” in research and to infect many younger colleagues and students with this vision.”

Top lecture

As part of the city project “Vesalius gets under your skin”, Peter Carmeliet will give the top lecture “Pushing the Boundaries”. He will also speak about his fascination for Vesalius, the famous anatomist who mapped the body by dissecting cadavers. Unheard of in his time. Carmeliet will also focus on the need to push boundaries in scientific research. Only then can we find solutions for today’s diseases.
Top lecture “Pushing the boundaries” - Tuesday 18 November, 20:30 - Pieter De Somer Aula (KU Leuven) - Info and registration via

A list of highly influential biomedical researchers, 1996 -2011, Boyack et al. European Journal of Clinical Investigation 2013

Peter Carmeliet
(c) Ine Dehandschutter