In memoriam Prof. Pieter Van Vlierberghe
2022 ended very sadly with the passing of our dearest colleague and friend Pieter Van Vlierberghe, an extremely talented cancer researcher and perseverant warrior. Needless to say that this has substantially impacted all of us and more specifically Pieter’s team. As a tribute to Pieter and as discussed with him, we will launch a ’Pieter Van Vlierberghe Award’, a yearly price for the best paper in oncology published by a young CRIG researcher. We want to take the opportunity here to reflect for a moment on the rich life and career of Pieter:
Pieter, bio-engineer by education, started his research career with a PhD in the Netherlands and a postdoc position in Boston (USA). He obtained a competitive Odysseus type 2 grant from the Research Foundation Flanders that allowed him to start an independent research group at Ghent University in 2013, focusing on the genetic basis of human leukemia. Since then, Pieter has been one of the driving forces of cancer research in Ghent, successfully applying for a variety of prestigious grants like a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) and receiving several awards for his outstanding work, such as the prestigious award of the Baillet Latour Fund in 2018.
Pieter was very active in the field of (pediatric) leukemia and lymphoma and even did not cease these activities when he became ill, almost three years ago. He led many projects in childhood leukemia and lymphoma and made great strides in elucidating the biology of leukemia. He fully embodied the mission of CRIG to stimulate cancer research through collaboration, as he was always open to discuss, share and inspire.
But most of all, Pieter was a wonderful person, husband and father, and a fantastic friend to many of us. He was an excellent leader and motivator for his colleagues, co-workers and PhD students. Always positive and smiling, always empathetic and interested.
Thanks for everything, Pieter.
(based partially on the obituary written by Prof. Barbara De Moerloose)