UU Professor Hans Clevers hired by pharmaceutical giant Roche

Photo: Hubrecht Instituut / Thijs Rooimans

Professor Hans Clevers is one of Utrecht University's most prominent researchers. He's been appointed by Roche to the position of Head of Pharma Research and Early Development, based in Basel.

On Twitter, Clevers said he's excited about this new role, after forty years in academia.

Entered my first academic lab in 1978. Fond memories of >40 years in science with great colleagues at public institutions in Kenya, the US and in my country, the Netherlands. Excited to step into the pharma world as head of research/early development at Roche, Basel in March

— Hans Clevers (@HansClevers) February 1, 2022

With 100,000 employees and a turnover of 56 billion euros, Roche is one of the biggest biotech companies in the world. Clevers is going to lead the development of new medicines and diagnostics in the fields of oncology, immunology, and infectious diseases.

A former chair of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW in the Dutch acronym), Clevers had been serving as the chair of Roche's board of directors since 2019. On March 18, he's going to join the Executive Committee of the Swiss family business. He will be succeeding the American William Pao, who is moving back to the United States.

Roche's CEO, Severin Schwan, complimented Clevers in a statement. "His extraordinary scientific achievements, his collaborative and pragmatic approach, and his excellent leadership skills will enable us to continue on a successful path."

Hans Clevers studies Medicine and Biology in Utrecht, obtaining his PhD from UU in 1985. After that, he conducted groundbreaking and acclaimed research on topics like the origin of colon cancer and the development of intestinal stem cells and organoids.

Currently, he serves as research leader of KNAW's Hubrecht Institute, in Utrecht, and the Princess Máxima Centre for Children Oncology, part of UMC Utrecht. Both institutions announced that Clevers will remain involved with them as an advisor and guest researcher. 

UU also stated that Clevers has the intention of keeping its ties with the university, serving as an unpaid professor. Further agreements will be made to arrange that.