Michaël Herfs, winner of the Audacious Medical Grant in Oncology 2023

In Projet de recherche

After Laurent Gillet in 2022, Michaël Herfs, FNRS Research Associate at the University of Liège, has been awarded the Audacious Medical Grant in Oncology for his research on cervical cancer. This funding is awarded to scientists who propose an original, daring and disruptive project.


ost scientific research projects are awarded based on the skills and specific areas of study of the researchers submitting them. These mechanisms leave little room for originality and the development of related research skills, as such projects can be considered too risky and are immediately rejected. The Audacious Médical Grant (AMG) aims to offer this opportunity to scientists wishing to develop a research project that is a little off the beaten track and outside their areas of expertise. Funded by private philanthropy, the AMG offers a €120,000 grant to a disruptive project i.e. that proposes research methods that break with established practice.

This year's grant was awarded to Michaël Herfs, FNRS Research Associate at the GIGA Institute of the University of Liège. His project, entitled "Impact des infections à papillomavirus humain sur les propriétés "souches"/de différentiation des cellules jonctionnelles cervicales" (Impact of human papillomavirus infections on "stemness"/differentiation properties of cervical junctional cells) focuses on cervical cancers and more specifically on their origins. "For more than 40 years, it has been thought that the two sub-types of cervical cancer must necessarily have a different origin. However, our preliminary data leads us to believe that a small population of cells, located at the interface between the exo and endocervix, could be multipotent (capable of differentiating into several cell types) and be at the origin of most (~90%)  glandular and squamous (pre)neoplastic lesions". The project led by Michaël Herfs will aim to answer one of the last unresolved questions linked to cervical HPV infections and their associated carcinogenesis. As for its success rate?  "I think  that my probability of being right or wrong is 50/50. I didn’t want to propose a project for which I only had a 10% chance of being right. I'm not a crazy researcher”, he said, smiling.

Your contact at ULiège

Michaël HERFS

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