Dr Robert Vries studied biology in Utrecht (the Netherlands) and Kent University (UK). Subsequently, he got his PhD at the Leiden University Medical Center (The Netherlands) with Prof Dr van der Eb, for the study of gene regulation during oncogenic transformation induced by Adenovirus, and the disruption of gene regulation resulting in pediatric rhabdoid tumors. After these biochemical studies of cancer he shifted his interest to developmental biology and studied neural stem cells at the Stanford University (USA). In 2007 he returned to the Netherlands to the lab of Prof Dr Hans Clevers to continue the study of stem cell during development.
The group of Dr Clevers had just discovered the stem cell of intestine in 2007. Vries found that a cell with a similar molecular signature was responsible for regenerating neurons in the olfactory bulb of the brain. A breakthrough finding was new protocol for the expansion of intestinal stem cells in culture that Dr Sato developed together with Vries. This system formed the basis of protocols that were subsequently developed for other organs such as liver and pancreas but also different diseases such as prostate cancer.
The technology of stem cell expansion was the first method that allowed for the virtually unlimited expansion of adult stem cells. This technology therefore has great potential in the field of regenerative medicine as well as drug screening. In 2011 Vries changed positions to assist Hans Clevers in the management of his academic group. At the same time he started to work to translate the technology towards clinical applications. In this capacity he and Dr Ton Logtenberg started the HUB, foundation for Organoid Technology, of which he is currently the managing director. The mission of the HUB is to develop the organoid technology for clinical and industrial applications. For this purpose the HUB is currently developing Organoid Biobanks in collaboration with the Hubrecht Institute and the UMCU. Furthermore, the HUB is involved in drug development and screening protocol with several pharmaceutical partners. Lastly, the HUB is developing personalized diagnostic and drug development tools with hospitals and pharmaceutical partners