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Koopmans to receive Stevin Prize

Prof. Marion Koopmans of the department of ViroScience has been granted the prestigious Dutch Stevin Prize. This has been made public on Friday, 15 June in Amsterdam.

The valorization grant is meant for scientists who's research has great societal or economic impact. The award of € 2,5 million is a reward for the laureate's exceptional achievements. The Stevin Prize is, together with the Spinoza prize, the highest award in Dutch science, according to the NWO press release.

Marion KoopmansNoroviruses
NWO: " Marion Koopmans is Professor of Virology at Erasmus MC. Her research focuses on the transfer of viruses from animals to people (zoonoses) and on the large-scale spread between people (outbreaks and pandemics). She uses genetic information in the form of viral DNA or RNA to map these infection pathways. She is the initiator of the worldwide NoroNet network for research into noroviruses: notorious causal agents of gastric flu. Thanks to this initiative, far more is now known about the genetic variability within these viruses."

"Prof. Koopmans's research group made the important discovery that noroviruses can undergo rapid genetic change to stay one step ahead of the immune system of their hosts. Koopmans investigates, among other aspects, whether and how noroviruses in animals contribute to this rapid evolution."

The creation of worldwide networks to systematically control infectious diseases on a large scale forms the golden thread in Koopmans' work, according to NWO. "During the outbreak of the extremely dangerous Ebola virus in 2015 in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, she led the efforts of three mobile laboratories provided by the Netherlands. The concrete outcome was that the time needed to confirm the diagnosis was reduced from three days to six hours. This is not only vital for patients but also crucial for a quick containment of subsequent outbreaks."

Online database
"Prof. Koopmans fulfilled a similar role in 2015 during the outbreak of the Zika virus in South America and the Caribbean. As this virus is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, she worked on ways to reliably determine Zika outbreaks and infections."
In 2015, she received 20 million euros from the European Commission to realize an online databank for the early detection of infectious diseases. The ultimate goal of this project is that local laboratories can link their genetic analysis of a pathogen to a wide-ranging online database, as a result of which they can immediately obtain insight into the nature of the outbreak while at the same time informing the international community of this.

Koopmans is a member of numerous advisory councils and plays an important role as an adviser for the World Health Organization (WHO). Furthermore, she is the author of more than 500 publications, which have been cited more than 20,000 times.

For further information, see: curriculum vitae & motivation prize Koopmans. Also read the interview with Prof. Koopmans, 'An ecosystem full of viruses'.

Date published: 15 June 2018.

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