Descartes-Huygens Prize for medical researcher and astronomer

13 December 2019

French cardiovascular researcher Julien Barc and Dutch astronomer Lex Kaper have won the 2019 Descartes-Huygens Prize for their research and their contribution to Franco-Dutch collaboration. The prize, € 23,000 each, makes it possible for them to continue their respective research collaborations. The awards ceremony will take place on 5 February 2020 at the residence of the Dutch ambassador in Paris. 

Julien Barc

Julien Barc (37) is an INSERM Associate Researcher at l’institut du thorax in Nantes, France and a rising star in his field.He studies molecular mechanisms in cardiovascular diseases.

Researchers at Barc’s institute in Nantes and Amsterdam University Medical Centre have been joining forces for the past twenty years to study rare cardiac diseases associated with a high risk of sudden death and new therapies for heart conditions. The two groups possess complementary expertise allowing translational research from bedside to bench and back to bedside.

The Descartes-Huygens Prize allows Julien Barc to work in the Netherlands with the Amsterdam research group for longer periods of time.He will also supervise two PhD students charged with liaising between the French and Dutch research teams.

Lex Kaper

Foto Lex Kaper-nw2.png

Lex Kaper (53) is Professor of Astronomy at the University of Amsterdam.

Kaper studies the formation, evolution and fate of massive stars (gamma-ray bursts). He also develops astronomical instruments. For example, he is one of the inventors of X-SHOOTER, the world’s most sensitive spectrograph (an instrument that disperses light into different wavelengths – i.e. colours – in the form of a spectrum). Kaper is currently involved in the development of MOSAIC, a multi-object spectrograph that will be located on the European Extremely Large Telescope currently under construction.

Kaper works closely with the Meudon Observatory in Paris. Their collaboration has resulted in a number of important scientific publications and the MOSAIC project. They are in the process of setting up a European training and exchange network for students and postdocs, and the Descartes-Huygens Prize will support Kaper’s contribution to these projects.

About the Descartes-Huygens Prize

The annual Descartes-Huygens Prize was established by the French and Dutch governments in 1995to recognise researchers for their outstanding work and their contribution to Franco-Dutch relations. The Netherlands selects the French winner and France selects the Dutch winner. The prize money (€ 23,000) is intended to cover the cost of their research residence in the Netherlands and France respectively. The Descartes-Huygens Prize 2019 will be presented to both the Dutch and the French laureate on 5 February 2020 at the residence of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Paris.