The award

Since its establishment in 1996, VIB has become a widespread international community of more than 1,800 scientists and support personnel currently working at VIB, and over 4,500 VIB Alumni who are now employed by a variety of national and international universities, research centers, companies, governments, hospitals, etc. Our VIB Alumni initiatives see to it that both communities stay connected.

After the celebration of VIB’s 20th anniversary, the VIB Alumni board launched a new Alumni initiative in recognition of a commendable alumnus. This creates visibility not only for the nominated alumni, but also for their former VIB lab and the whole VIB community.

Currently, the call for nominating VIB alumni with a strong societal impact is open.

The award consists of a prize worth €5,000 and the laureate gets a free ticket to join the 25 Years of VIB celebration and present his/her story there.

Who can be nominated?

VIB Alumni who left VIB at least one year ago can all be nominated. Nominees should have worked at one of the VIB centers for at least 6 months. We welcome nominations for the award by any member of the VIB and VIB Alumni community. However, self-nominations are not accepted.

How to nominate?

Nominators must complete and submit the application form by April 30, 2021. Next to the administrative details, the submission must include a max one A4 page statement establishing the candidate's qualifications with clear and concise detail as to how the (s)he has made a lasting impact on society.

What do we mean by societal impact?

Value creation or valorization is the process of creating an added value (primary and secondary, short- or long term) to scientific knowledge and excellence. 

If the created added value is aimed at or is of specific importance to a community of external stakeholders (ranging from the general public to very specific groups of stakeholders), hence beyond academia, the value creation is deemed ‘societal’ (OECD 2002 & REF-UK).

Examples of societal value creation activities or pathways:

  • Science communication
    Popularized (scientific) contributions (books, social media, encyclopedia), public lectures, podcast, science cafe/bar, movies or short films, explanation and infographic, Children's University, ...
  • Contribution to public debate
    Expert opinions, think tanks, awareness campaign, exhibitions, ...
  • Participatory research
    Citizen science, living lab, action research, co-creation & co-design, stakeholder engagement, ...
  • Policy influence and advice
    Legislation and legal interventions, relevant memberships, endowed chairs, public tenders, ...
  • Service to society
    Expert opinion and consultancy, shared research infrastructure (capabilities), training, handbooks and guidelines, online tools and apps, ...
  • Health
    Drug, diet, treatment or therapy development, diagnostic or medical technology development, development of indicators of health and well-being, clinical trials, …
  • Economics
    Spin-out or new business, intellectual property & licensing, design, delivery and/or optimization of products, processes or services, development and implementation of monitoring or modelling tools, …
Award Ceremony in 2019

The selection panel


The VIB Alumni Board will judge and rank all nominations, while the VIB Alumni selection panel, consisting of Senior VIB Alumni Désiré Collen, Jan Tavernier, Christine Van Broeckhoven & Ann Depicker, will select the final winner.

The Award ceremony will take place during 25 Years of VIB on October 7, 2021.

Former laureates


The first award, in 2017, went to Peter Van Loo (The Francis Crick institute) whose research findings have been translated into clinical practice such as CALR mutation testing, already used in hospitals for the diagnosis of myeloproliferative neoplasms.

Read more


Peter Van Loo, winner of the first Alumni Award in 2017


Peter Van Loo: 

“I had a really great time growing up scientifically at VIB and the years in Peter Marynen lab have really shaped me as a scientist and inspired me to pursue a career in science. I was deeply honoured to receive the VIB Alumni  Award in 2017. It was a wonderful recognition of my work after leaving VIB and I’m extremely grateful that my original scientific home choose to recognize my work with this wonderful award.”


Lothar Steidler, winner of the award in 2019

The second award, in 2019, went to Lothar Steidler (Chief Technology Officer of ActoBio Therapeutics™). His research formed the basis of an internationally renowned company which has created a highly innovative and flexible technology. Their products, ActoBiotics®, target a range of diseases with no current cure and there are applications for many more such diseases in preclinical testing.

Read more


Lothar Steidler: 

“Beyond the initial eureka moment, applied biological research offers few moments of public recognition and hardly any are as rewarding as when receiving recognition for its societal impact. The VIB Alumni  Award is one of such recognitions. The explicit emphasis on the longer-term societal impact of my research meant a lot to me.”


Xavier Saelens:

“It was important for me to nominate Lothar Steidler, a former colleague of mine, for the VIB Alumni Award to give his work the visibility it deserves. Lothar is an outstanding researcher, with a keen eye for detail, and the rare talent to share the beauty of an experiment. As a cofounder of VIB spin-off Actogenix, he is also an entrepreneur. A unique combination. Of course, it is also always nice to see that the research was placed in the spotlight. It is stimulating and inspiring to see the long-term societal impact opportunities of research at VIB”.



Peter Marynen, VIB-KU Leuven


Xavier Saelens, Group Leader at the VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology,


Peter Marynen:

“It was a great honour to hear that one of the alumni from my lab had received the VIB Alumni Award. It recognizes not only the person’s individual impact but also the foundational work done by everyone in his former VIB lab.

My advice to all VIB PI’s: nominate one of your lab alumni and enjoy their recognition of societal impact as well as the success of the early career researchers you have mentored!"