Cédric Blanpain and Bart Loeys win the 2020 Francqui-Collen Prize
The 2020 Francqui-Collen Prize, sometimes call the "Belgian Nobel Prize", has been awarded to Cédric Blanpain (ULB) for his fundamental research in the fields of cancer and stem cell biology and Bart Loeys (UAntwerp) for his clinical research into genetic diseases that affect the blood vessels.
Since 1933, the Francqui Foundation has awarded its prize for the most outstanding Belgian scientist to a Belgian researcher under 50 years of age "who has made outstanding contributions to science and thus enhanced the prestige of Belgium." Thanks to the sponsorship of Baron Collen, this year, for the first time, the Francqui Foundation will award two prizes for biological and medical science.
The laboratory led by Cédric Blanpain has been a pioneer in the identification of cancer-causing stem cells. Stem cells are responsible for tissue development and renewal throughout adult life. They also allow tissue repair following various traumas. Cédric Blanpain's team was among the first to characterise these cancer stem cells and identify the mechanisms that regulate their function.
Bart Loeys discovered that the genetic mutation of a number of genes may cause aortic rupture. In collaboration with American researcher Dietz, he also identified a new aortic aneurysm disorder, now known as Loeys-Dietz syndrome.