Alexander van Oudenaarden appointed Director of the Hubrecht Institute

31 August 2012

Alexander van Oudenaarden has been appointed Director of the Hubrecht Institute as of 1 September. He replaces Hans Clevers, who resigned when he succeeded Robbert Dijkgraaf as President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in June.

Van Oudenaarden was already the Hubrecht Institute’s co-director. The Hubrecht Institute for Developmental Biology and Stem Cell Research is one of the oldest Academy research institutes and works closely with Utrecht University Medical Centre. Van Oudenaarden’s appointment consolidates the institute’s global standing as a centre for stem cell research in connection with cancer and regenerative medicine.

Prof. Alexander van Oudenaarden (42 years of age) studied materials science and physics at Delft University of Technology, where he received his doctorate in 1998. He did his post-doctoral work at Stanford University. In 2000, he accepted an appointment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he is professor of physics (since 2008) and biology (since 2009) combined. Van Oudenaarden and the Hubrecht Institute had already cooperated in 2008, when he spent eight months there as visiting professor.

Van Oudenaarden heads the Hubrecht Institute’s Systems Biology of Development & Stem Cells group, which uses quantitative methods to study how cells use gene and protein networks to make decisions. How does a stem cell decide to become an intestinal cell rather than a muscle cell? And how can changes in the gene network ultimately turn a healthy cell into a cancer cell?

Alexander van Oudenaarden has received numerous awards for his work. In the Netherlands, the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) presented him with the Andries Miedema Award for his dissertation; in the United States, he received the NIH Director's Pioneer Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the NSF Career Award. Early this year, he was given a VICI Award by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and an Advanced Grant worth EUR 2.5 million by the European Union’s European Research Council.

About the Hubrecht Institute

The Hubrecht Institute for Developmental Biology and Stem Cell Research focuses on animal developmental biology, with special emphasis on stem cells.  In addition to fundamental research, the Institute carries out strategic biomedical and genome research. Its research programme is unique in the Netherlands and elsewhere because it covers the full spectrum of animal development biology, from fertilisation to the adult organism. The high citation impact factor of its scientific publications makes it one of the best-performing research institutes in the Netherlands.

Watch a short film about the Hubrecht Institute.