NCMLS Awards 2012

NCMLS Award winners 2012

The NCMLS Awards 2012 were announced during the NCMLS New Years Affairs and drinks on January 7th 2013. 

The winners are:

Best thesis: Theo Plantinga; Experimental Internal Medicine (on the photo left)

Best scientific report: Margo Dona; Human Genetics & Organismal Animal Physiology

Breakthrough paper of the year: Walter Bronkhorst; Medical Microbiology (group Ronald van Rij) (on the photo right)


The jury reports:

Best thesis

The quality of all four submitted theses was extremely high, not only in terms of impact of the scientific publications, but also for their professional layout and the clarity of the key message. The achievements of all nominees have led to an impressive number of papers in high impact journals. After a very difficult and careful evaluation the committee has unanimously selected one of the nominees for the best thesis award:

Theo Plantinga; Experimental Internal Medicine

The PhD studies of Theo Plantinga were aimed at the immunological mechanisms that are involved in immune-related diseases and at the identification and characterization of genetic variants that predispose to disease susceptibility and clinical outcome. Particularly the role of genetic variation in innate immunity and the host response to Candida infections were addressed.

Theo Plantinga's PhD thesis is an impressive piece of work, containing 18 chapters, 15 of which have been published in high-standard journals, including one in the New England Journal of Medicine. In all of the work described in his thesis, Theo Plantinga has played a very active role, not only in the design and performance of the experiments, but also in the interpretation of the results and the writing of the articles. With this thesis Theo Plantinga proves to be an exceptionally talented scientist, who in spite of the quantity and quality of the work managed to graduate only four and a half years after starting his PhD studies, which is an exceptional achievement.


Best scientific report

Three master students were nominated for the NCMLS Award for best scientific report. Based upon the judgement criteria for this award, including the contribution to a scientific publication, the contribution of the student to the work described and the impact of the results that were obtained, the committee has selected as this year's winner:

Margo Dona; Human Genetics & Organismal Animal Physiology

In her MSc thesis Margo Dona describes the research she has performed to obtain more insight into the pathogenic mechanisms that underlie Usher syndrome, the most common type of hereditary deafblindness. She has pioneered a totally new model system (zebrafish) for hereditary disorders in the Radboud University Medical Centre and introduced a number of techniques and assays for phenotyping zebrafish morphants. Her data have been used in two manuscripts, both of which are currently under review by PNAS.

The work provided a basis for a new research line, in which she is now involved as a PhD student.

Margo's MSc thesis is clearly written, detailed and precise and presents scientific results obtained using several different experimental approaches. Her report and her nomination indicate that she is a very talented young researcher and the NCMLS can be proud that she decided to continue as a PhD student in our institute.


Breakthrough paper of the year

Two submitted papers were eligible for the NCMLS breakthrough paper of the year. The winner is a paper recently published in PNAS entitled 'The DNA virus Invertebrate iridescent virus 6 is a target of the Drosophila RNAi machinery'. The first author of this paper is:

Walter Bronkhorst; Medical Microbiology (group Ronald van Rij)

The study described in this paper shows for the first time that organisms that lack a complex immune system like that of mammals can use the RNA interference machinery for their defense against viruses with a DNA genome. An important implication of these findings is that antiviral RNAi responses can provide protection against all major classes of viral pathogens. The results were obtained by a multidisciplinary approach involving state-of-the-sequencing, genetics and molecular virology.

The results of this paper not only provide an important contribution to our understanding of the immune system of insects, but also put forward the RNAi machinery of insects as a novel target to eradicate some insect-borne viral diseases.




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