Press release VUmc 50 years

Press release honorary degree Professor Jaap Goudsmit - VUmc awards honorary degree to Professor Jaap Goudsmit

Recognition for major, international contribution to human health and life sciences

Amsterdam, May 12, 2016 – VU University Medical Center Amsterdam (VUmc) will award an honorary degree in medicine to Professor Jaap Goudsmit, M.D., Ph.D., (1951) on October 12 this year, which is the 50th anniversary of the academic medical center. Goudsmit is a medical microbiologist and basic researcher who is regarded as a world leader in the fight against AIDS and influenza. In his home city of Amsterdam, he has made an important contribution to public health strategies for the prevention of obesity. Currently, Goudsmit is focusing on Alzheimer’s disease research amongst other chronic illnesses related to aging. The award ceremony will be held at the Free University (VU), the sister organization of the VUmc. Since 1930, the VU has awarded an honorary degree to 75 people, including Martin Luther King Jr., Rem Koolhaas and Hendrik Colijn.

Jaap Goudsmit is one of the most productive and most cited Dutch scientists working in the field of human health and life sciences research, and he has received widespread international acclaim for his achievements in this area. In 1993, he was named in Science magazine as one of the most important HIV researchers of that time. Since 2001, he has been included in the Institute for Scientific Information’s database of highly cited scientific researchers.

He is known as an entrepreneurial scientist, who plays a leading role in the collaboration between academia and industry. From 2002 to 2011, Goudsmit combined the role of scientific director of Crucell, a public listed biopharmaceutical company, with the position of Professor of Poverty-Related Communicable Diseases at the Academic Medical Center (AMC) of the University of Amsterdam. In 2012 he was appointed Professor of Vaccinology and Immunoprophylaxis at the AMC. Currently he is Global Head of the Janssen Prevention Center, part of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. In recent years, his research efforts have focused on Alzheimer’s disease, which he first studied as a young researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States. Since 2014 he has been special advisor to Trevor Mundel, President of Global Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Goudsmit served on the Amsterdam Economic Board from 2012 to 2015, with responsibility for the health portfolio. Based on his advice, public health programs to prevent health problems such as overweight and diabetes were introduced in Amsterdam, and the Sarphati Institute, a research center targeting healthy living, was established in the city. In 2016, Goudsmit was appointed chairman of the Scientific and Strategic Advisory Board of the Joep Lange Institute in Amsterdam.

During the honorary degree ceremony on October 12, Goudsmit will present his latest booklet entitled ‘The Time of your Life: approaching the end free of illness’.

Goudsmit completed his secondary education at the Vossius Gymnasium in Amsterdam and obtained his medical degree from the University of Amsterdam in 1978, graduating cum laude. He then embarked on research at the NIH laboratory led by D. Carleton Gajdusek, who won a Nobel prize in 1976 for his research into transmissible forms of dementia, such as kuru and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. After returning from the United States, Goudsmit obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam in 1982. For the next 18 years he led virology research (1983–2002, from 1989 as professor) for the Amsterdam Cohort Studies exploring the natural course and pathogenesis of AIDS. These studies were a collaborative effort involving the AMC, the CLB (central laboratory of the blood transfusion service) and the GGD (public health service) in Amsterdam.