After finishing high school in Eindhoven, Clevers started studying Biology (with a major in chemistry) in Utrecht in 1975. Starting 1978, he combined his doctoral studies Biology with Medicine. He did a couple of trainee ships at this time: at AZU/UMCU, NIH in Washington DC and ILRAD in Nairobi. In 1984 Clevers graduated as physician and biologist. He obtained his doctorate at the University of Utrecht with an immunological project called ‘How do T-lymfocytes process intracellular signals?’ in 1985. Hereafter he left the Netherlands for a postdoc in the laboratory of a former Utrechter, Cox Terhorst, at the Dana-Farber Carcer Institute of Harvard University in Boston, USA. Here he became acquainted with DNA technology, which was just in its beginning phase.
Upon returning Clevers was appointed as Professor of Immunology at the UMCU and chair of the department of Immunology (1991-2002). His research interests shifted through a series of discoveries from lymphocytes to frogs, fruit flies and worms, and then to stem cells and cancer of the intestine. Focusing on the latter he moved to the Hubrecht Institute from 2002 to 2012. He worked as a director, the first five years in cooperation with Ronald Plasterk. In 2012, he became president of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW), as he continues his research group at the Hubrecht Intitute.
Since 2000 Clevers is a member of the KNAW. He has received several awards including the Spinoza prize in 2001, the Swiss Louis Jeantet award in 2004, the American Katharine Berkan Judd award in 2005, the Israeli Rabbi Shai Shacknai award in 2006, the Dutch Josephine Nefkens award for cancer research and the German Meyenburg award for cancer research in 2008, the Queen Wilhelmina research award (KWF) in 2009, the UEGF (United European Gastroenterology Federation) research award in 2010, the German Ernst Jung Medical Award and the Dutch Kolff Prize in 2011, the French ARC (Association pour la Recherche sur le Cancer) Léopold Griffuel Award, the Heineken award in 2012 and the Breakthrough award in Life Sciences in 2012. He received an “ERC Advanced Investigator” scholarship in 2008. Furthermore, he received the French award “Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur” in 2005. In 2012, Hans Clevers received a royal honor, Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion.