The ABCD & Merial Young Scientist Award 2010

British researcher William McEwan

The ABCD and Merial Young Scientist Award 2010 was presented to William McEwan BSc MRes PhD, now working at the MRC-Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge (UK), on 20 June in Amsterdam, on the occasion of the congress of the International Society of Feline Medicine.

William McEwan (27) received the award for his work on the replication and cross-species transmission of feline immunodeficiency virus infection in domestic cats and lions, and the resitriction factors in these species in particular. “Understanding the means by which host species are able to prevent viral replication gives us insight to the mechanisms of infection and may allow us to engineer therapy based on similar mechanisms or by enhancing immune responses, he explained. FIV infections of the domestic cat and lion are examples of comparatively novel and ancient host-pathogen interactions respectively, and while domestic cats are permissive to a broad range of retroviruses, lions can potently restrict replication.

The award was presented by Professor Marian C. Horzinek, Chair of the European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases (ABCD) and of the award jury, who congratulated the laureate. “William McEwan presented a very original, high quality paper. His research has indicated the ability of hosts to potently restrict retroviral replication – given sufficient evolutionary time. It has also highlighted felids as a taxon that is potentially highly prone to cross-species transmission of immunodeficiency viruses”.

Dr Jean-Christophe Thibault, Merial’s Technical Director for Biologicals (Europe, Middle East and Africa), added, “As a leading animal health company which prides itself on innovation, Merial is proud to support comparative research projects such as William’s work. This is of particular importance in the context of major human pathogens like HIV where veterinary research can provide major input, helping us to better understand the mechanisms by which host species are able to prevent viral replication”.

The ABCD and Merial Young Scientist Award, created in 2008 and worth 1000 €, is funded by Merial and is presented to a young scientist in veterinary or biomedical science, 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 for the 2011 award are now being invited (deadline 15 January 2011).

Application forms and detailed rules can be downloaded from the ABCD web site (www.abcd-vets.org)
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 5,400 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2008 sales were over $2. 6 billion. Merial Limited is a joint venture between Merck & Co., Inc. and sanofi-aventis. For more information, please see www.merial.com

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