Top scientist heads for Denmark to avoid compulsory retirement
Share article:
Share article:

Top scientist heads for Denmark to avoid compulsory retirement

Professor Peter Carmeliet ©

One of Belgium’s top research scientists, Peter Carmeliet, plans to move himself and his laboratory to Denmark, to avoid being forced to retire when he reaches the age of 65.

Carmeliet is one of the country’s most decorated scientists: a professor at the university of Leuven, created a Baron in 2015, a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2017 and, since this year, a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences – former members Einstein and Darwin.

He also has numerous prizes and awards to his name.

His work covers the field of angiogenesis – the story of how blood vessels are formed. It may sound obscure, but it is of crucial importance in cancer cases. Often, the blood vessels inside a cancer do not develop normally, which leads them to break, whereby the blood escapes and can cause metastases – secondary cancer sites.

By studying the development of blood vessels, and eventually controlling it, it might be possible to stop one cancer from spreading throughout the body, thus reducing the patient’s chances of recovery.

However that important work is due to come to an end in December 2024, when Carmeliet turns 65 and, according to the rules, must go into retirement, regardless of his capacity to direct his lab and continue his work.

But the problems don’t start three years from now. They have already begun. Grants that run for three years and more are already either disappearing from his reach, or the sums concerned are reduced.

The same problem is affecting his lab staff of 60 people, whose prospects suffer in tandem with his.

His search for a lifeboat took him to Denmark, where he will take up a part-time post in April at the university of Aarhus, the largest in the country and the second-oldest, established in 1928.

Leuven will remain my home base until I am 65,” he told De Tijd in a long interview this weekend.

I remain loyal to VIB [the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology] and KU Leuven. But we have to phase out here, and the centre of gravity will tilt towards Denmark. We are already setting up a lab and have recruited two people who are being trained here,” he said.

“Researchers and staff from here go there. That creates some traffic back and forth. For the time being, I see it as one big lab in two places, to eventually bring everything together in Aarhus.”

Latest news

Over 50,000 march against fascism in Rome
Tens of thousands of people demonstrated against fascism in Rome on Saturday, one week after violent protests against the Covid certificate. Over ...
Will Brussels bounce back?
The lockdowns have tested the city and forced it to confront key questions about its future. Derek Blyth looks back at an extraordinary moment in our ...
Vaccinations: Belgium’s Health Minister currently not in favour of a general booster shot
The latest figures on new coronavirus cases are worrying, but rather than imposing new safety measures, what is needed is full compliance with ...
Thousands protest against the Covid health pass in France
Demonstrations against the health pass and other measures aimed at preventing the spread of the Coronavirus mobilised tens of thousands of protesters ...
Record-breaking 770-metre highline installed in Freÿr, Belgium
A 770-metre long highline was installed at an altitude of 70 metres at the Freÿr Rocks on Saturday, setting a new Belgian record, according to ...
Huge cannabis farm discovered inside closed down Chinese restaurant near Charleroi
A cannabis plantation with several hundred mature plants was dismantled on Friday evening in a former Chinese restaurant on Chaussée de Bruxelles ...
Citizen founded wind turbine project launched in Liège region
A citizen founded wind turbine project was inaugurated in the Liège Region on Saturday by Walloon Energy Minister Philippe Henry (Ecolo) together ...
Five questions to philosopher Philippe Van Parijs on Leopold II and embarrassment in Brussels’ public space
The worldwide explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, combined with the 60th anniversary of the ...
Belgium to invest in sustainable heating in 2022
The federal government will set aside about one million euros in its 2022 budget for a social tariff for sustainable heating, Federal Energy Minister ...
Unfinished draft of new Astérix story discovered
The discovery of the unfinished draft of a cartoon album on the most famous of all Gauls, sketched by cartoonist René Goscinny, was announced by his ...
Anti-vaxxers demonstrate against Covid Safe Ticket in Brussels
Hundreds of supporters of the anti-vaxx movement gathered on Saturday outside the headquarters of the Pfizer pharmaceutical company to protest ...
Belgium’s investment funds total 260 billion euros in assets
Belgium’s funds industry grew by 5.3% (13 billion euros) in the second quarter of this year, bringing investment funds available to the public to ...