Peter Vandenabeele (VIB-UGent) receives FWO excellence prize

1 July 2015

​Prestigious award for scientists in Flanders

Prof. Peter Vandenabeele (VIB Inflammation Research Center, UGent) has been awarded the Excellence Prize from the Fund for Scientific Research (Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek [FWO]). Every five years, FWO Flanders selects five exceptional scientists in Flanders who play an international leading role in their field and have pushed the boundaries of their field. Candidates in each of the five domains are selected by an international jury that examines the scientific achievements of the proposed candidates.
Peter Vandenabeele is the 7th VIB scientist to be awarded this honor, after Walter Fiers (VIB/UGent), Marc Van Montagu (VIB/UGent), Dirk Inzé (VIB/UGent), Christine Van Broeckhoven (VIB/Universiteit Antwerpen), Bart Destrooper (VIB/KU Leuven) and Peter Carmeliet (VIB/KU Leuven).

Joseph Maisin prize for fundamental biomedical sciences
Peter Vandenabeele’s many years of research focusing on the question “how do cells die?” has become particularly important in recent decades with the advent of the biomedical sciences. His interdisciplinary combination of biochemical techniques has created breakthroughs that could result in new treatments for inflammatory diseases and cancer, which the pharmaceutical industry is now developing further.

Peter Vandenabeele: “My first emotion after being awarded this important prize was one of enormous gratitude to the many people who motivate me and allow me to grow, such as Prof. Em. Walter Fiers, who taught us to ask simple questions, but using a broad approach (from molecule to clinic), the many employees - past and present - for their enthusiasm and ingenuity, the excellent administrative support that allowed me to focus on science and finally, the context of VIB that provides room for challenges and self-reflection.  My second emotion was pride in the fact that it was allowed to ask simple questions for so many years in these very applied times. This slow maturation process is absolutely essential to achieving fundamental molecular insights that will eventually find their way to the clinic. As I become older, I am more and more interested in the integration of cell death and life, a philosophical question with molecular allure. It is becoming increasingly clear that regeneration processes are made possible by the process of cell death. Dead cells release factors that can repair or renew the tissue. My colleagues and I would like to research this domain in future.”