On 1 July Hergen Spis received the award for his outstanding achievements in the field of immunology during his international research career. His achievements are still of great importance for science and for the treatment of seriously ill patients.

Spits is an internationally known and respected immunologist. In 1983, he graduated in medical sciences at the University of Amsterdam. In 2002, he was appointed Professor of Cell Biology at the Academic Medical Centre (AMC), having previously worked for the Netherlands Cancer Institute and Schering Plough in France and the United States. From 2006 to 2009, he was senior director of the immunology department at the biotech company Genentech in San Francisco. He then returned to the AMC, where he supervised PhD students.

With his knowledge of fundamental biology, Hergen Spits was able to develop unique new treatments for serious diseases. He stood at the cradle of the so-called PDL1 antibody. This antibody is a very important addition to the treatment options for serious infectious diseases and is used to treat various types of metastatic cancer.

Spits' international scientific career is extra special because he cannot hear and is dependent on lip-reading. This makes him an example for other deaf and hard of hearing people. He has also trained many foreign students, PhD students and doctors. In view of the special social significance and influence of Hergen Spits' activities, he has been appointed "Ridder in de orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw".

"Ridder in de orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw" is one of the oldest and highest civilian (knighting) orders in the Netherlands. King William I instituted the Order on 29 September 1815. A person becomes eligible for an award in this order when a very exceptional service is rendered to society.