Marc Van Montagu celebrates 85th birthday

10 November 2018
Today we celebrate the 85th birthday of Em. Prof. Marc Van Montagu, one of VIB’s founding fathers. Marc was born on November 10, 1933 in Ghent. This week, on November 5, 2018, Marc received an honorary doctorate from the Weizmann Institute in Israel, in honor of his critical scientific discoveries that form the basis of biotechnological approaches, which are successfully addressing the problem of global food security.

Marc Van Montagu shares the secret of his tireless motivation: “As long as health permits, cultivate the drive. At age 85 you have a better chance to convince that knowledge gathering is a joy and beauty forever. It’s important to always remember the basic quote “I didn’t think about that”.”

Marc Van Montagu is a pioneer in plant molecular biology. Together with Jeff Schell, he is well known as the discoverer of the Ti-plasmid and the inventor of Agrobacterium tumefaciens transformation technology, now used worldwide to produce genetically engineered plants. Marc was until 1999 Director of the VIB-UGent department of Plant Genetics, and founded IPBO (International Plant Biotechnology Outreach) after his retirement. His goal for IPBO is to promote technology and knowledge transfer for sustainable agro-industrial development, especially in developing countries. Marc has also co-founded two biotech companies, spin-offs from his laboratory, Plant Genetic System (PGS) and CropDesign.

Marc has received numerous prestigious awards and honors, in particular the Japan Prize for Biotechnology and Agriculture Sciences in 1998, and the World Food Prize in 2013, considered to be ‘the Nobel Prize for Agriculture and Food Security’. He is member of 11 academies of sciences/agriculture worldwide and recipient of 9 honorary doctorate degrees. Marc was the President of the European Federation of Biotechnologists from 2005-2013 and was appointed UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador for the development of agribusiness in low-income countries in 2014. He has produced over 1100 scientific publications that have received more than 90.000 citations. Due to his accomplishments, he received in 1990 the title of Baron from the King of Belgians. 


Marc Van Montagu ©VIB-Ine Dehandschutter