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Award winners - AZ Foundation & FWO/F.R.S.-FNRS

 

The AstraZeneca Foundation brings science and society together and stimulates the social debate on the importance of clinical research. By doing so, the AstraZeneca Foundation aims to create a framework in which scientific progress can benefit society. Together with the FWO and the F.R.S.-FNRS, AstraZeneca Foundation annually awards Scientific Prizes to researchers who have carried out important work in a specific therapeutic field. This year, four Scientific Prizes are awarded for contributions in the domains of Oncology, Mental Disorders, Respiratory Diseases and Primary care & Family Medicine. Each laureate received a sum of € 25,000 to continue his innovative research.

The 2018 winners of these Scientific Awards are respectively Prof. dr. Piet Ost, Prof. dr. Filip Raes, Dr. Thomas Marichal and Dr. Pauline Boeckxstaens. Prof. dr. Piet Ost received the Oncology Award for his innovative approach of the treatment of prostate cancer. Prof. dr. Filip Raes was awarded the Mental Disorders Award for his ground-breaking research on the fight against depression. The Respiratory Diseases Award was allocated to Dr. Thomas Marichal for his research on pulmonary immune cells. Finally, Dr. Pauline Boeckxstaens received the Primary Care & Family Medicine Award for her research on the treatment of multmorbidity.

The four winners were elected by an independent jury composed by the FWO and F.R.S.-FNRS.

Dr. Pauline Boeckxstaens

Dr. Pauline Boeckxstaens 

UGent

Primary Care & Family Medicine Award

25 000€

“We must effectively reform our healthcare system to treat people rather than diseases.”

Dr. Pauline Boeckxstaens is the laureate for the AstraZeneca Foundation Award 2018 in Primary Care & Family Medicine. She is being rewarded for her research regarding the treatment of patients with multimorbidity.

Although many patients suffer from multiple diseases, research and clinical practice have focused primarily on developing an evidence basis for each specific disease. Therefore, the treatment of chronic diseases is based on each disease-specific outcome and process, such as targeted laboratory parameters and disease-specific measures and survival rate. Disease-oriented care increases the burden of care for patients with multiple chronic diseases (or multimorbidity), reduces the transparency of expected health outcomes and entails additional risks, such as polypharmacy and drug interactions.

Therefore, to improve results for multimorbid patients, Dr. Pauline Boeckxstaens highlights the need to broaden the traditional descriptive model and look for a broader non-linear approach that takes into account unpredictability and recognises that no observation should remain isolated, but rather looked at within the wider context of the patient’s medical history.

Prof. dr. Piet Ost

Prof. dr. Piet Ost 

UGent

Oncology Award

25 000€

“We demonstrated that the earlier use of local therapy improved time to progression while preserving quality of life.”

The jury has decided in favour of Prof. dr. Piet Ost, Head of clinic of the Radiation Oncology department at Ghent University Hospital. He is also the Vice-Chairman of the EAU Young Academic Urologists Prostate Cancer Working Party and an active member of the Multidisciplinary Meeting on Urology and Skin Cancer at UZ Gent.

Prof. dr. Piet Ost received the AstraZeneca Foundation Award 2018 in Oncology for his promising approach of using local therapies earlier when treating prostate cancer. Prof. dr. Piet Ost first tried to improve the diagnostic tools to detect metastases by evaluating the role of novel PET-CT tracers, which resulted in an earlier and more accurate detection of metastases. In a next phase, the laureate optimized both surgical and radiotherapeutic techniques to optimally treat metastases with minimal side-effects. These techniques were then evaluated in a randomized trial that demonstrated that local therapy improved time to progression while preserving quality of life.

Prof. dr. Filip Raes

Prof. dr. Filip Raes

KU Leuven

Mental Disorders Award

25 000€

“It has been proven that MeST successfully reduces rAMS and can in some instances have a positive and significant impact on the severity of the symptomatology of both depression and PTSD.”

Prof. dr. Filip Raes is rewarded the Mental Disorders Award for developing a new approach to train people with mental disorders to retrieve specific memories. Research, including the work of Prof. dr. Filip Raes and his co-workers, revealed that depressed people have more difficulty retrieving specific memories from their autobiographical memory than non-depressed controls. Prof. dr. Filip Raes and his team have focused on the mechanism of 'reduced Autobiographical Memory Specificity' (rAMS) by developing a new approach that attempts to address this issue: people learn to recover memories in a more specific form through a training module called 'Memory Specificity Training' (MeST). Prof. dr. Filip Raes is professor of Clinical Psychology at KU Leuven and is a member of the Disciplinary Board of the Belgian Committee of Psychologists. Prof. dr. Filip Raes is also an editor for several magazines, including Mindfulness and the Journal of Experimental Psychopathology.

Dr. Thomas Marichal

Dr. Thomas Marichal

ULiège

Respiratory Diseases Award

25 000€

“We have discovered the existence of two populations of lung immune cells that are crucial for lung homeostasis.”

The jury decided to grant the AstraZeneca Foundation Award 2018 for Respiratory Diseases to Dr. Thomas Marichal for his research on lung homeostasis and bronchial asthma.

Dr. Thomas Marichal's work, which has been led together with Professor Fabrice Bureau, investigates the immune mechanisms underlying, on the one hand, pulmonary homeostasis and, on the other hand, the development of bronchial asthma. Their team of researchers has discovered the existence of two populations of lung immune cells that are crucial for homeostasis, i.e. lung interstitial macrophages and regulatory eosinophils. Indeed, these cells, in healthy individuals, can block the activation of dendritic cells, which are responsible for triggering the asthmatic reaction. In addition, upon exposure to environmental factors that promote asthma, such as respiratory viral infections or a "hygienic" environment, researchers have identified specific DNA filament-containing structures in the lung that robustly boost these dendritic cells and therefore favour asthma development.

Dr. Thomas Marichal works at the F.R.S.-FNRS and has already received numerous awards for his research. He is also a member of several scientific societies, including the Belgian Immunological Society and the European Respiratory Society.

NS Approval ID 1009870 Revision date 09/2016