M.W. Beijerinck Virology Prize

Updated: 42 minutes ago
Deadline: 01 Sep 2023

M.W. Beijerinck Virology Prize
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The M.W. Beijerinck Virology Prize is awarded to an internationally renowned researcher who has made a ground-breaking contribution to virology research. The prizewinner receives a monetary award of EUR 35,000.

Lees meer over de M.W. Beijerinck Virologie Prijs in het Nederlands

Submit nominations:Is opening 1 September 2023

  • Regulations M.W. Beijerinck Virology Prize

Subject area

Virology in the broadest sense of the word, including its biochemical and biophysical aspects.

Who is it for?

Scientists (in the Netherlands or abroad) who have made a ground-breaking contribution to research into virology in the broadest sense of the word.

Who may submit a nomination

Individual scientists, universities, research institutes, scientific organisations and institutions in the Netherlands or abroad, and members of the Academy.

About the M.W. Beijerinck Virology Prize

The M.W. Beijerinck Virology Prize was established in 1965 in honour of virologist M.W. Beijerinck (1851-1931) and recognises an internationally renowned researcher in the field of virology. The prize is awarded every other year. The prizewinner receives a monetary award of EUR 35,000, to be used at the prizewinner’s discretion, and a medal bearing the likeness of M.W. Beijerinck.

See also the Beijerinck Premium
2021: Ralf Bartenschlager (Germany)

Ralf Bartenschlager has been awarded the Beijerinck Virology Prize 2020 for his efforts to combat hepatitis C.

Ralf Bartenschlager’s work forms the basis of all current hepatitis C drug treatments. He developed a method for cultivating the virus in the lab that researchers have been using ever since to study hepatitis C and test antiviral drugs. His work has led to pioneering new treatments for chronic liver infections.

Bartenschlager has widened his scope to include other viruses, including the coronaviruses, using the latest imaging techniques to track how they replicate. He is also investigating the ‘arms race’ between the virus and the host’s immune system, how antiviral therapies work, and how hosts grow resistant to such therapies.

The jury has praised Bartenschlager as a source of inspiration for the younger generation of researchers. He advises and supervises numerous students and has also established and now coordinates several study programmes. Some of his pupils have gone on to have impressive careers of their own.

About the laureate

Bartenschlager (born 1958) is professor and head of the Department of Molecular Virology at Heidelberg University. He is also head of the Virus-Associated Carcinogenesis Division at the German Cancer Research Center.

2019: Eva Harris (United States)

Eva Harris has been awarded the Beijerinck Virology Prize 2019 for her outstanding research on viruses in general and on arboviruses in particular. Her efforts have improved public health worldwide. 

Arboviruses are transmitted to humans by insects, causing infectious diseases such as dengue, Zika and chikungunya. Harris often conducts her research in locations where these mosquito-borne diseases are most common. For example, she has done extensive research on dengue in Nicaragua. Her work has greatly improved our understanding of the origins, evolution, course and control of arboviral disease. 

The jury has praised Harris for the way in which she applies basic research findings in clinical treatment. Her willingness to share her knowledge with others also merits respect. She is actively committed to increasing the amount of research undertaken in developing countries and has developed educational programmes to prevent large-scale outbreaks of infectious diseases. In 1998, Harris founded the Sustainable Sciences Institute (SSI), a non-profit organisation that aims to improve public health systems in deprived regions through scientific research. 

About the laureate

Eva Harris (born 1965) is a professor at the School of Public Health and a research director at the Center for Global Public Health, University of California, Berkeley (United States). She has published widely and received many international awards. In short, Harris is an inspiration to young virologists worldwide.

2017: Raul Andino (United States)

Virologist Raul Andino has been awarded the Academy’s Beijerinck Virology Prize 2017.

Raul Andino has been awarded the prize for research that has expanded our knowledge of viruses across the board. For example, he has studied how viruses replicate, how they interact with their host’s cells, how they evolve and how they cause disease in their hosts. Much of Andino’s work focuses on poliovirus, a small RNA virus. Some of his research is geared to improving existing vaccines and making them safer, but Andino also uses the polio virus as a model to study how other enteroviruses replicate. Viruses in its family cause disease in humans in many different forms, from stomach flu and common cold to viral meningitis. 

Andino also studies RNA interference (RNAi), a process that can attack viral DNA within infected host cells. He has demonstrated that fungi, plants and even lower-order animals such as insects make use of RNAi. Andino also analyses how RNA viruses outwit their hosts thanks to their rapid evolution. Older theories assumed that evolution occasionally produces one effective virus that then infects new hosts. Andino’s work has helped us understand that it is not a single type of virus that is transmitted but a cluster of closely related viruses, known as a ‘quasispecies’. Each of these variants has specific properties, and they are only capable of infecting and causing disease in a new host if they act together. Knowledge of the evolution of a virus is also hugely important to understanding how viruses ‘escape’ from antiviral drugs. 

About the laureate

Raul Andino (1957) studied and received his PhD in Buenos Aires (Argentina). He has worked in the USA since 1986, first at MIT in Boston, then at Rockefeller University in New York, and now at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF), where he heads a group of 17 researchers in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

2015: Peter Palese (United States)

Peter Palese, the pioneer of modern influenza research, has been awarded the Academy’s Beijerinck Virology Prize 2015.

The Austrian-born Peter Palese (1946) may be considered the founding father of modern research into influenza viruses. He researches the way in which viruses multiply and the precise nature of how they make people and animals sick.

Peter Palese was the first to map out the various types of influenza genetically and he laid the foundations for the antiviral medicines now used worldwide. Palese is also known for his research into the 1918 Spanish influenza virus, which he was able to reconstruct. His most recent research targets a universal influenza vaccine to offer protection in the case of epidemics and pandemics.

About the laureate

Peter Palese studied in Vienna where he was awarded a doctorate. Since 1971, he has been on the staff of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. He became a full professor at the age of 33 and has since trained a whole new generation of virus researchers.

2013: Felix Rey (France)

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences has presented the M.W. Beijerinck Virology Prize 2013 for outstanding virologists to Felix Rey. Rey can be considered as one of the most important researchers in his field.

Felix Rey is Director of the Structural Virology Unit at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. His work focuses on viruses for which no treatment has been found yet. Rey can be considered as one of the most important researchers in his field.

2011: Eckard Wimmer (United States)

Eckard Wimmer heeft de Beijerinck Virologie Prijs 2011 ontvangen. Wimmer is als hoogleraar verbonden aan Stony Brook University in New York, en geldt als een van de invloedrijkste virologen ter wereld.

Eckard Wimmer (1934) ontvangt de internationale Beijerinck Virologie Prijs. Hij hield zich in zijn lange onderzoekscarrière vooral bezig met het poliovirus. Wimmers werk is altijd bijzonder vernieuwend geweest en tot op vandaag gebleven. In 1981 ontrafelde hij de genetische informatie van het poliovirus als eerste humaan RNA virus. In de jaren tachtig en negentig heeft hij belangrijke bijdragen geleverd aan de identificatie van de polioreceptor. Daarnaast was hij de eerste die buiten de cel een virus wist te produceren. In 2002 zorgde zijn werk voor opschudding toen hij in zijn laboratorium zelfs poliovirus wist te produceren zonder gebruik te maken van het genetisch materiaal van het echte virus. Dat kan worden beschouwd als de opmaat naar een nieuw tijdperk, het begin van de synthetische virologie. Bovendien leidde dit onderzoek rechtstreeks naar een van Wimmers meest recente doorbraken: de ontwikkeling van een nieuw type levend vaccin, op basis van synthetische, genetisch gemodificeerde virussen. De jury is van oordeel dat het belang van het werk van Wimmer verre dat van de virologie ontstijgt.

2007: Charles M. Rice (United States)

Charles M. Rice will receive the M.W. Beijerinck Virology Prize 2007. He will receive the prize for his work in the field of Virology, in particular for his research on flaviviruses, including Hepatitis C virus (HCV).

His work has contributed to the development of antiviral medicines and vaccines against Hepatitis C virus. Professor Rice is Head of the Laboratory of Virology and Infectious Disease and Scientific and Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Hepatitis C at Rockefeller University in New York.

About the laureate

Prof. Charles M. Rice (born 1952) is one of the world's most renowned virologists. His research focuses on the replication and pathogenic capacity of RNA viruses in animal models. He has performed brilliant pioneering work on alphaviruses, which are transmitted in nature by insects. For a number of these viruses, including the Sindbis virus, he has unravelled the mechanism that regulates replication and transcription. However, he is known primarily as an expert on flaviviruses, having demonstrated that the flaviviruses are a separate family from the alphaviruses. He has also elucidated the organisation, expression and functions of the viral proteins of HCV. Moreover, Charles Rice produced the first infectious molecular clone of HCV, with which he demonstrated the genetic sequences involved in a Hepatitis C infection. Since 2003, Charles Rice is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Virology and the Journal of Experimental Medicine. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States since 2005.

2004: Sir David C. Baulcombe (United Kingdom)

The Academy has awarded the M.W. Beijerinck Virology Prize 2004 to David C. Baulcombe, head of the Disease Resistance and Gene Silencing Department at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, United Kingdom, for his research on gene silencing as a natural defence mechanism against viruses.

Prof. David C. Baulcombe conducts research into the natural resistance to viruses in plants. Around ten years ago he demonstrated that gene silencing plays an important role in this process, and he also unravelled the underlying mechanism. It is not the genes themselves that are silenced; rather, their operation is disrupted by interference in the chain of events needed for viral reproduction. The building instructions in the RNA that is produced by a gene form part of that chain. Baulcombe discovered that plants are capable of recognising specific fragments of viral RNA and then destroying them. This prevents the RNA from performing its normal function in the reproduction of the virus, effectively making the plant resistant to that specific virus.
Baulcombe's laboratory then discovered that the recognising or tracing of specific RNA fragments is carried out by what he called 'small inhibitory RNA molecules' (siRNAs), which have the same structure as the RNA that they attack. It was then found that these siRNAs play a major role not only in plants, but also in animals and moulds. This in turn led to the discovery of other, very general mechanisms involved in gene regulation.
Not only do Baulcombe's discoveries open the way to the unravelling of the function of genes, but they also offer the prospect of being able to render 'unhealthy' genes inoperable. The knowledge that has been gained on natural defence mechanisms thus forms the basis for a whole range of new experiments, and probably also new therapies.

About the laureate

Sir David C. Baulcombe (Solihull, UK, 1952), attained his PhD at the University of Edinburgh before going on to work in Montreal (McGill University) and Athens (US) (University of Georgia). In 1980, he returned to the UK to take up a post at the Plant Breeding Institute in Cambridge. Since 1988, he has been working at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, where he is also a professor at the University of East Anglia. David Baulcombe is a member of the Royal Society, and has won several other international prizes.

Hamilton, A.J. and Baulcombe, D.C. (1999) A novel species of small antisense RNA in posttranscriptional gene silencing. Science 286, 950-952
Voinnet, O., Vain, P., Angell, S. and Baulcombe, D.C. (1998) Systemic spread of sequence-specific transgene RNA degradation is initiated by localised introduction of ectopic promoterless DNA. Cell 95, 177-187

2001: Robin A. Weiss (United Kingdom)

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences has presented its 2001 M.W. Beijerinck Prize for Virology to Robin A. Weiss, Professor of Viral Oncology at University College London. Weiss will receive a prize for his work in the field of virology, and in particular for his research on retroviruses.

About the laureate

Robin Weiss (1940) is Professor at the Wohl Virion Centre, part of the Windeyer Institute of Medical Sciences at University College London. He previously worked for the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories, and from 1980 to 1998 he was director of research at the Institute of Cancer Research, London.
Professor Weiss studies human and animal viruses, focusing in particular on newly identified viruses and viruses that can be transmitted from animals to humans. He is particularly interested in viruses that can cause AIDS or cancer, such as HIV, HTLV and certain herpes viruses. He has focussed on cell surface receptors for retroviruses and showed that the CD4 antigen is the binding receptor for HIV. He also discovered 'endogenous' retroviruses that are inherited as Mendelian traits in the host. He investigated endogenous retroviruses in pigs and showed that these could possibly infect humans. Weiss' 1997 report in Nature Medicine showing that pig endogenous retroviruses can infect human cells sparked off a major debate about the potential risks of xenotransplantation.

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