Piet Borst's work revealed how parasites evade the human immune system, and it provided insights into the molecular pumps that underlie cancer drug resistance. He illuminated an unanticipated metabolic pathway, unveiled a novel DNA building block, and pinpointed the biochemical basis of an inherited disorder. With vision and fortitude, he shepherded the Netherlands Cancer Institute to world-class status. His contributions have extended far beyond his home establishments, as he has guided prominent scientific organizations and prize committees in Europe and beyond. He has trained scores of investigators who have gained international renown, and he has directed his passion for science and no-nonsense attitude toward educating the public as well.
During a career that has spanned more than five decades, Borst has demonstrated a healthy disrespect for planning and authority. In his research and administrative posts, he has seized opportunities to pursue fruitful paths even when they veered from an obvious trajectory or grated against the status quo.