Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals

2010 Recipients

Jan Verhoef, Netherlands
Visiting Scholar, Medical School (1975-1976)

Dr. VerhoefDr. Jan Verhoef’s distinguished career was launched at the University of Minnesota in 1975 when he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Medical School’s Department of Pediatrics. There he built on his strong background in basic microbiology by advancing his knowledge of immunology and human host-defenses against microbial diseases. During his time at the University Dr. Verhoef immersed himself in both clinical and laboratory activities. He made connections at the University that developed into major research collaborations and friendships that have lasted for the past 35 years.

After he completed his post-doctoral fellowship he returned to the Netherlands as professor of clinical microbiology at Utrecht University and was later named chair of the Eijkman-Winkler Institute of Medical and Clinical Microbiology of the Utrecht University Medical School. In 1980 Dr. Verhoef, with his colleagues in Utrecht and the University of Minnesota, organized the first meeting of the International Immunocomprimised Host Society held in Veldhoven, Netherlands. More than 200 physicians and investigators from many disciplines and countries attended. Since then, every two years a society symposium has been held in Europe or the United States. Dr. Verhoef’s contributions and leadership were essential for the development of this remarkable society.

Dr. Verhoef’s leadership in the area of infections in immunosuppressive hosts is well recognized internationally. He was one of the first clinical investigators to recognize that infections in patients with compromised immunity were becoming a major challenge in the field of infectious diseases and clinical microbiology. He has published more than 650 publications and earned a long list of honors and awards. During his long career at Utrecht, he supervised 105 doctoral students. Several of his trainees came to Minnesota for their post-graduate experience as well and are now in positions of academic leadership.

Professor Verhoef was honored at a celebration in 2009 for the contributions of his 33-year professorship at Utrecht University and received a medal of honor from the officer of the Orange-Nassau, awarded by the Queen of the Netherlands. In his acceptance speech he recognized the pivotal role of his post-doctoral fellowship at the University and his mentorship by Dr. Paul Quie. He said, “It all started in Minneapolis. We had a wonderful time, which paved the way to my career together with lifelong friends.”
In naming Dr. Verhoef as a recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals, the selection committee cited his long-standing relationship with the University of Minnesota and his international reputation as a global leader in the field of microbiology. Dr. Verhoef is a respected global leader and one of the best-known clinical microbiologists in Europe. He has a great appreciation for his mentorship at the University and the opportunities afforded him during his time here, demonstrating the University’s continued role in the creation of the international bonds of scholarship and friendship, the advancement of science, and the creation of international cooperation.