The first ABCD and Merial Young Scientist Award 2008

Belgian researcher Hannah Dewerchin wins the ABCD & Merial Young Scientist Award 2008.

The first ABCD and Merial Young Scientist Award 2008 was presented to Dr Hannah Dewerchin, from the State University of Ghent (Belgium), on 25 September in Edinburgh, on the occasion of the congress of the European Society of Feline Medicine.

Dr Dewerchin (29) received the award for her work on Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), and in particular its interaction between the infecting coronavirus and the host cell, and its ability to evade the humoral immune response. “The immune mechanisms involved might explain why a cat cannot overcome the infection and why vaccination attempts usually fail, she said. Her research contributes important insights for a better understanding of FIP pathogenesis.

The award was presented by Professor Marian C. Horzinek, Chair of the Advisory Board on Cat Diseases (ABCD) and of the award jury, who congratulated the laureate. “The standard of the applications we received was very high, but the entire jury agreed on the quality of the work of Dr Dewerchin. She is a very promising young scientist!”

Dr Jean-Christophe Thibault, Merial’s Technical director for biologicals (Europe, Middle East and Africa), added, “True to Merial’s mission statement of being an innovation-driven leader in animal health, we are very proud to have made this European award possible. Initiatives such as these, in association with renowned scientific bodies like the ABCD, highlight promising young researchers and the teams to which they belong.”

Both Professor Horzinek and Dr Thibault agreed that Dr Hannah Dewerchin, under the tutorship of Professor Hans Nauwynck (University of Ghent), has contributed lasting insights into an enigmatic feline infectious disease.

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 had them accepted by another recognised assessing body.

Candidates should be based in Europe (EU or EFTA country), have completed a veterinary or biomedical curriculum, but should not yet have achieved a PhD or Diplomate status at the time of application. Applications for the 2009 award are now being invited.

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 ten 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 more than 5,000 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2007 sales were nearly $2.5 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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