On Friday 24 May, Prof. O.P. Kuipers will receive the Royal Decoration that was awarded to him on 26 April of this year. He will be appointed Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion. This decoration will be awarded to him by Mayor Den Oudsten at 9 a.m. in the Linnaeusborg, Nijenborg 7, Groningen. Prof. Kuipers was out of the country during the presentation of the decorations on 26 April.
On Friday 26 April, Prof. Oscar Kuipers has been appointed Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion. Kuipers (Rotterdam, 1956), Professor of Molecular Genetics at the Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute (GBB) of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Groningen, manifests himself as an excellent and creative scientist and a driven, inspired researcher, teacher and supervisor. His work involves complex, fundamental scientific and innovative challenges that are highly socially relevant, such as improving food safety and fighting antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Students praise him for the way in which he motivates and inspires student teams from Groningen who participate in the globally renowned International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition.
Internationally, Kuipers is known as a pioneer in the field of research around antimicrobial resistance, which is a growing global social problem. In Europe alone, it is the cause of more than 25,000 deaths each year. If new antibiotics or alternatives fail to be developed, it is expected that during the next few decades, the amount of deaths will increase to about 400,000 per year in Europe – and about 10 million worldwide. Kuipers conducts research into bacterial proteins that could potentially lead to the development of a drug for a wide range of often fatal diseases, for which there is currently no drug available. His vision and ideas have had an enormous impact on the discipline of molecular microbiology. For example, he has established new lines of research based on his expertise in the area of lactic acid bacteria, and he plays a key role in the development of new molecular techniques and applications involving this type of bacteria. His fundamental research into the protein compound nisine has led to important applications in the food industry and to improvements in food safety. Additionally, his research functions as the blueprint for new research aimed at the development of new antibiotics.
Since 1999, Kuipers has distinguished himself among the scientific staff of his institute by his enormous dedication and passion for raising genetic research into microorganisms to a higher level. Moreover, the breakthroughs that he has accomplished have proved to carry a wider social impact. His work in the area of malignant bacteria is unprecedentedly valuable and his research into the development of antibiotics to combat these bacteria is among the best worldwide. He actively uses new applications and techniques in the field of genetics as well as methods from synthetic biology, continually in search of ways of developing new antibiotics.
The research that Kuipers supervises is world class, and its productivity, relevance and viability equally are of an exceptionally high calibre. Affirming these merits, Kuipers has been elected as a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) as well as the European Academy of Microbiology. For his work, he received the prestigious Simon Stevin Master Prize, the largest prize for applied and technical-scientific research in the Netherlands. The prize is awarded to researchers who succeed in connecting excellent fundamental scientific work with socially relevant questions and applications. Kuipers’ productivity is also demonstrated by his 415 scientific articles in generally highly regarded academic journals, 18 chapters in books and 21 patents. His impact is enormous: his work is cited at least 2,000 times annually, which makes him one of the 10 most cited scientists in his field. He has supervised the promotions of 51 PhD researchers and 28 post-doctorate fellows, and currently has 26 PhD students and four postdoctoral fellows under his care. In addition, his particular merit is that he succeeds in having 80 percent of his innovative, fundamental and pre-competitive research financed by external parties, such as the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the European Union and various industrial partners.
Among undergraduate students, PhD students and postdoctoral researchers, Kuipers is known as an inspirational teacher and supervisor. Many of those whom he supervises go on to build successful careers for themselves in science or business. Kuipers is the driving force behind Groningen’s participation in the globally renowned International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition, in which more than 200 student teams compete annually for the best functional and socially relevant concept in synthetic biology. He performs this role very eagerly and the student teams that he coaches have often been among the winners, and once chosen as the world champion.
Kuipers is also very active in administrative roles and has held various positions. As a board member of the Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute (GBB), he makes a major contribution to promoting the scientific quality and social relevance of research within his institute. He consistently plays a leading role in major national and international research programmes. Within ZonMw, he has served considerable time as a member of the programme committee for the distribution of subsidies for research involving antimicrobial resistance. He continues to perform various administrative functions, for example as a board member of a Dutch platform for the development of antibiotics and as a confidential advisor for scientific integrity within his own faculty. His great interest in the problem of antimicrobial resistance has led to the founding of the Center for Sustainable Antimicrobials (CeSAM) in Groningen.
Kuipers is widely known as a very capable scientist, a great board member and an involved, honest person who thinks constructively, creatively and is focused on solutions. He is a thoroughbred researcher who is particularly inspired and driven to look for innovative solutions and unfailingly puts his work at the service of society. Internationally, he is seen as a pioneer and his research is recognized as excellent, challenging, ground-breaking and highly accurate. Moreover, the unique character of both his research and his motivation are an encouragement for other scientists to build on his ingenious ideas.
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