6 October 2015

Professor Clemens van Blitterswijk wins 2015 Huibregtsen Prize

Professor Clemens van Blitterswijk has won the 2015 Huibregtsen Prize.  Jet Bussemaker – Minister of Education, Culture and Science – presented the winning research leader with the award in the Ridderzaal in The Hague, during the Avond van Wetenschap & Maatschappij (Night of Science and Society Foundation). He was nominated for his project Osteoinductive Biomaterials: From the Periodic Table of Elements to FDA Approval. The award consists of a sculpture ('De Denker') and € 25.000,- to be spent on research.

Clemens van Blitterswijk is the director of the MERLN Institute and head of the Complex Tissue Regeneration department. His research focuses primarily on tissue and organ regeneration. Van Blitterswijk and his team have worked on improving bone implants since the early nineties by developing materials from naturally occurring elements in the bone itself: calcium, phosphorus, oxygen and hydrogen. This long-term research project, run from Leiden University via IsoTis in Bilthoven (a biomedical company co-founded by Van Blitterswijk) and from the University of Twente to Maastricht University, shows great tenacity. The experimental approach, which has produced several relevant clinical studies and a new generation of synthetic bone void fillers, is extremely promising in terms of its application potential. This is good news for the many patients suffering from worn discs or a hole in their leg that will not heal properly as a result of the ageing process.

Prof Clemens van Blitterswijk, minister Jet Bussemaker (r) and jury chairman José van Dijck (l)

Prof. Clemens van Blitterswijk is one of three distinguished university professors, established by Maastricht University, thanks to investments of the university and the Province of Limburg, within the framework of the Kennis-As Limburg. Through the 'Limburg Chair' title, the Province has also linked itself with the recruitment of the distinguished university professors. Distinguished university professors have been introduced in recent years at a number of Dutch universities. They have high academic stature, standing for innovative education and research, and are therefore afforded a great deal of freedom in their work. Their role is to provide impetus for scientific developments that cross the borders of traditional disciplines and to play a leading part in academic and social debates.

According to the jury, Van Blitterswijk makes clever use of the body's capacity to heal, for instance by optimising porous, three-dimensional calcium phosphate implants. By conducting advanced genomics and proteomics research and creating new materials, he has managed to identify the underlying processes. Van Blitterswijk's work on osteoinductive materials is a testament to his perseverance. This exemplary multidisciplinary research project successfully links the academic and business communities.

2015 Huibregtsen Prize

The 2015 Huibregtsen Prize is the initiative of Stichting De Avond van Wetenschap & Maatschappij (Night of Science and Society Foundation). The prize is awarded to a recent research project that breaks new scientific ground and shows convincing prospects for social application. The jury nominated seven projects from the twenty-four submissions.