De Leeuwenhoek Medal 2015 has been awarded to Dr J Craig Venter. The medal was presented to him by the Dutch State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science Sander Dekker at the annual conference of the Royal Netherlands Society for Microbiology (KNVM) and The Netherlands Society for Medical Microbiology (NVMM) April 14 at Papendal, Arnhem.
The Leeuwenhoek-medal is the most prestigious prize in the field of Microbiology. It has been awarded every 10 years since 1877 to a scientist who has made the most important contributions to Microbiology during the last 10 years. The first 13 medals were awarded by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. From 2015 onwards, KNVM awards the medal. Dr Venter is the 14th winner. Previous award winners include Louis Pasteur, and the Nobel prize winners Andre Lwoff and Selman Waksman.
Dr Venter has developed novel approaches in genome sequencing. Venter showed the power of large scale sequencing combined with novel bioinformatics analytical tools. He provided the first full genome sequence of a bacterium, Haemophilus influenzae. Many genomes followed including the human genome. Dr Venter also discovered millions of novel genes by his famous Global Ocean Sampling Expedition. The achievements of Dr Venter are not limited to genome sequencing. For instance, he has made milestone contributions to synthetic biology. He developed methods for whole bacterial chromosome synthesis and assembly, followed by successful transplantation of a synthetic chromosome into a chromosome-less bacterial cell. The achievements of Dr Venter will pave the way for the development of newly designed bacterial species with unprecedented functionalities, for instance for the production of fuels for the future.
The award is an authentic gold plated silver medal. Dr Venter is now also honorary member of KNVM.
Prof Dr HAB Wösten