Jan Hoeijmakers started the molecular analysis of DNA repair in mammals at the Dept. of Genetics (Erasmus Univ. Rotterdam) in 1981. He cloned the first of many human DNA repair genes, allowing elucidation of the underlying mechanisms and the basis of human repair syndromes, such as the cancer-prone xeroderma pigmentosum disorder and the severe neurodevelopmental conditions Cockayne syndrome and trichothiodystrophy. His team pioneered DNA repair dynamics in living cells using novel imaging technologies, generated numerous mouse repair mutants, discovered a strong connection between accumulation of DNA damage and accelerated aging and a trade-off between cancer and aging.
The mouse mutants appeared superior models for Alzheimer’s disease addressing a tremendous unmet medical need. Accumulation of unrepaired DNA damage causing premature cell death and senescence also triggered an anti-aging, anti-cancer ‘survival response’ which enhances maintenance at the expense of growth resembling the longevity response by dietary restriction. Remarkably, subjecting repair-deficient progeroid mice to actual dietary restriction tripled their lifespan, drastically retarding DNA damage accumulation and accelerated aging most impressively neurodegeneration.
In addition he discoverd that accelerated and normal aging are associated with transcriptional stress due to stochastic DNA damage affecting gene expression and that dietary restriction counteracts the declining transcriptional output. These findings open perspectives for preventive interventions for healthy aging, reducing cancer and many aging-related diseases including neurodegeneration, and for therapy of human genome instability syndromes. For his work Jan Hoeijmakers received many prizes and awards.
- 2017: International Olav Thon Foundation personal Award
- 2017: Honorary TEFAF Oncology Chair of the Maastricht Univ. Medical Center
- 2016: NVHG Galjaard Prize of the Netherlands Society of Human Genetics
- 2016: Professor International Faculty, Cologne University (Cologne, Guest Professor.
- 2016: Selected for the Nobel-Forum lecture at the Karolinska Institute
- 2015: ERC PoC grant DEMENTIA European Research Council
- 2014: Consulted by the Nobel Committee for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for DNA repair (2014-2015)
- 2013: Royal distinction Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion for important scientific achievements in the area of cancer and aging research (2013).
- 2012: Mendel Medal on the occasion of the 190th anniversary of Mendel’s birth
- 2011: Koningin Wilhelmina Research Prize of the Dutch Cancer Society, for research on DNA damage response in prostate and urinary bladder cancer (2M€) (Leiden, 2011)
- 2011: Academy Professor of the Royal Academy of Sciences of The Netherlands (KNAW), First Academy Professor new style in the broad domain of Beta sciences
- 2011: Cancer Research Prize of the Charles Rudolph Brupbacher Stiftung for research on the role of genome stability in cancer and aging, shared with Bert Vogelstein
- 2008: ERC Advanced Grant DamAge – Multi-disciplinary Sciences European Research Council
- 2008: Seneca Medaille des Industrie-Clubs für Altensforschung Prize, for pioneering research on the molecular basis of aging (First awardee)
- 2001: ‘Josephine Nefkens Prize’ for cancer research
- 2000: Elected member of KNAW (section ‘Medicine’, dept. ‘Physics’)
- 2000: ‘EC-Descartes’ Award for European collaboration on DNA repair
- 2000: ‘Van Gogh’ Prize from the Dutch Science Organization
- 2000: ‘Descartes-Huygens’ Award for French-Dutch scientific collaborations
- 1999: ‘Spinoza’ Prize, most recognized prize of the Dutch Science Organization
- 1995: The very prestigious 'Louis Jeantet' Prize for Medical Research in Europe for the entire work on DNA repair (Geneva, 1995)
- 1995: EMBO
- 1986: 'Snoo van t' Hoogerhuys' Prize (isolation of the first human DNA repair gene)
- 1983: 'Harold Quintus Bosz' Prize (for the discovery of the molecular mechanism of antigenic variation in trypanosomes, PhD thesis)
- De Boer, J., Andressoo, J. O., de Wit, J., Huijmans, J., Beems, R. B., van Steeg, H., ... & Meradji, M. (2002). Premature aging in mice deficient in DNA repair and transcription. Science, 296(5571), 1276-1279.
- Hoeijmakers, J. H. (2001). Genome maintenance mechanisms for preventing cancer. nature, 411(6835), 366.
- Marteijn, J. A., Lans, H., Vermeulen, W., & Hoeijmakers, J. H. (2014). Understanding nucleotide excision repair and its roles in cancer and ageing. Nature reviews Molecular cell biology, 15(7), 465.
- Niedernhofer, L. J., Garinis, G. A., Raams, A., Lalai, A. S., Robinson, A. R., Appeldoorn, E., ... & Theil, A. F. (2006). A new progeroid syndrome reveals that genotoxic stress suppresses the somatotroph axis. Nature, 444(7122), 1038.
Vermeij, W. P., Dollé, M. T., Reiling, E., Jaarsma, D., Payan-Gomez, C., Bombardieri, C. R., ... & Youssef, S. A. (2016). Restricted diet delays accelerated ageing and genomic stress in DNA-repair-deficient mice. Nature, 537(7620), 427.