ABCD & Merial Young Scientist Award 2011

The ABCD and Merial Young Scientist Award 2011 was presented to Isabelle Dietrich MRes, a PhD student at the Center for Virus Research of the University of Glasgow (UK), on 25 June in Vienna, on the occasion of the congress of the International Society of Feline Medicine. Isabelle Dietrich (28) received the award for her work on a potential gene therapy for cats infected with the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), based on restriction of the virus with a synthetic feline TRIM5-CypA fusion protein. “In our study, we confirmed that such a protein was highly efficient at preventing FIV infection in vitro”. A TRIM-Cyp-based gene therapy approach for FIV-infected cats “would offer an effective antiviral defense strategy with a very low potential for toxicity and the emergence of resistant viral variants, and would contribute significantly to animal welfare”, she explained. The award was presented by Professor Marian C. Horzinek, Founding chairman of the European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases (ABCD), who congratulated the laureate. “Isabelle Dietrich has contributed to the knowledge of feline infectious diseases by a series of studies of high quality and originality. Her research into the intracellular defense mechanism offers a novel insight into the potential control of an often devastating disease”. Isabelle had been selected “with flying colours” from a pool of “very good candidates”, he added. Isabelle’s work was also “of major importance” in the field of human viral diseases like AIDS, recalled Jean-Christophe Thibault, Merial’s Technical Director for Biologicals (Europe, Middle East and Africa), “As a leading animal health company, Merial is very proud to be associated to this prestigious European award, in association with a recognised expert group such as the ABCD.” He also thanked the organisers of the ISFM congress, which was “the most appropriate venue for presenting this award”, created to “highlight key research in the field of feline medicine”. The ABCD and Merial Young Scientist Award, created in 2008, is funded by Merial and is presented to a young scientist in veterinary or biomedical sciences, who has made an original contribution in the field of feline infectious diseases and/or immunology. Applicants should have published their findings in a journal listed in PubMed or Web of Science or have had them accepted by another recognised assessing body. Candidates should be based in Europe, have completed a veterinary or biomedical curriculum, and be under 35 years of age at the time of application. Applications in the fields of both basic and applied sciences are welcome. For further information, please contact Karin de Lange, ABCD secretary, karin.delange@abcd-vets.org Notes to Editors:  The European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases (ABCD) is an independent panel of 17 leading veterinarians from eleven European countries, with an expertise in immunology, vaccinology and/or feline medicine. The ABCD was set up to compile guidelines for the prevention and management of major feline infectious diseases in Europe, based on current scientific knowledge. For more information, please visit www.abcd-vets.org.  Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 5,600 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2010 sales were more than $2.6 billion. Merial is a Sanofi company. For more information, please see http://www.merial.com.

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