Presentation of the 4th International Steven Hoogendijk Award 2010

On Friday afternoon, September 24, 2010, George M. Church received the ”International Steven Hoogendijk Award” awarded by the Batavian Society for Experimental Philosophy in Rotterdam from Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb in the Citizens’ Hall of Rotterdam City Hall. This year, this prize was awarded in the medical-technical field of “minimal invasive diagnosis” and consists of a silver medal and an amount of 10,000 euros. The ceremony was attended by members and guests of the Batavian Society and interested parties who were invited through the Science Café.

Prof. George Church receives the International Steven Hoogendijk Award medal from Mayor Aboutaleb

After the opening of the meeting by the President-Director of the Batavian Society: prof.dr. H.W. Tilanus, the chairman of the jury: prof.dr. J. Molenaar, explains which aspects determined Church’s choice. Prof.dr. F.G. Grosveld then gave a laudation. Raoul Heertje interviewed the prize winner in his own witty manner, giving the audience an idea of ​​the person behind the scientist. George Church’s speech of thanks after the Society’s President, Mayor A. Aboutaleb, addressed him and presented the prize, focused on the future of DNA research. Predicting the future is difficult, says Church, but working on it and opening up new perspectives on the future is something he wants to stay busy with.

Raoul Heertje, Huug Tilanus (Pres.Dir. BGPW) and Prof. George Church

The Tilanus ensemble played music between the speeches and the interview, making a major contribution to a special meeting.

George M. Church is a renowned American bioscientist. In 1977 he joined the group of Walter Gilbert, a biochemist who, together with Paul Berg and Frederick Sanger, received the Nobel Prize for developing methods for sequencing the DNA molecule. Together with Gilbert, he was among the first to develop the idea of ​​analyzing the entire human genome, which led to the later Human Genome Project. Church is one of the developers of today’s fast and cheap DNA sequencing machines for reading the information in the DNA molecule.

In this light, his highly controversial Personal Genome Project should be seen, with which he wants to make the genetic information of the genome of as many people as possible available on the internet, linked to everything that is known about their phenotype, their visible appearance and history .

In addition to the analysis of the DNA molecule, Church has for many years played a pioneering role in the synthesis of complex molecular structures and artificial micro-organisms, i.e. synthetic biology, with the production of biofuel as its main research goal.

George M. Church is professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and professor of health sciences and technology at Harvard and MIT. He is also director of the U.S. Department of Energy, Center of Bioenergy at Harvard & MIT and Director of the National Institutes of Health, Center of Excellence in Genomic Science at Harvard, MIT & Washington University.

In summary, what interests him is technical development, large-scale biology, data transparency and public understanding of science.

On Thursday, September 23, 2010 at half past three in the afternoon, Professor Church gave a seminar on Personal Genomics and Synthetic Biology in the Aula of the Erasmiaans Gymnasium, Wytemaweg 25 in Rotterdam.