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Students awarded with Professor Frits de Waard Penning!

The Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care is proud to announce the two winners of the ‘Professor Frits de Waard Penning’: Saskia Hullegie (Medicine) and Peter-Paul Zwetsloot (Epidemiology, Biomedical Sciences). It was with great pleasure that the jury proposed Saskia and Peter-Paul for the Frits de Waard Penning for Medicine students and Master of sciences students 2016.
The award is intended for students who have conducted original and excellent epidemiological research in medicine or biomedical sciences, and have concluded this research with a scientific publication. The aim of this yearly award is to encourage promising young researchers who are at the start of their career by acknowledging their achievements.

Who was Professor Frits de Waard?

Professor de Waard was the first professor of Epidemiology at Utrecht University. His research career started with a self-initiated project in South Africa. He collected urine samples of thousands of women for hormonal analysis, also using the sediments to produce smears to determine the phase of the menstrual cycles. From there he, with foresight, took a risk in pioneering Xerox mammograms and stored these mammograms and the urine samples in a biobank. He believed that it was ultimately always the data that would prove or disprove a hypothesis. He was the founder of the PREVENTICON breast and cervical cancer screening centre and the DOM breast cancer project.
The Professor Frits de Waard Penning is intended particularly for students who have performed epidemiological research themselves with an emphasis on originality and active participation by the student in the research project. Those who have conducted a methodological research project are also candidates for the prize.

The jury

The manuscripts were judged by of qualified epidemiological staff. This year the jury of the Professor Frits de Waard Penning consisted of assistant professors Bruining-Verhagen, Elias and Greving, all working in the Julius Center as clinical epidemiologists. They jury judged the submitted research manuscripts on the following aspects:
  • The relevance of the research question to science and society
  • Originality of the study design and methods for data collection
  • Active participation of the student in the different phases of the project
  • The quality of the study design, data collection and data analysis
  • The quality of the reporting of the research project
Saskia Hullegie, one of the winners worked during her internship within the department of Public Health, Julius Center with data from the WHISTLER study, a large prospective birth cohort on perinatal and infant risk factors for wheezing illness. She assessed the effects of first-year daycare attendance on the number and timing of acute gastroenteritis episodes. After her internship she wrote, on her own initiative, the paper ‘First-year Daycare and Incidence of Acute Gastroenteritis’ that was accepted and published in Pediatrics in May 2016. Saskia shows in this paper that she is able to use advanced statistical methods to address an important topic for public health and report the results in an attractive paper. The jury thought the paper was well written with a concise research question, a clear explanation of the methods that she used, with nice figures, and a critical appraisal of advantages and disadvantages.
PhD student Peter Paul Zwetsloot, also won the Frits de Waard Penning, is finishing the MSc Epidemiology postgraduate at the Julius Center. As part of this master programme he wrote a thesis that was recently published in the renowned journal Circulation Research. In his paper ‘Cardiac stem cell treatment in myocardial infarction; a systematic review and meta-analysis of preclinical studies’, Peter-Paul used – with great skill – research methods that are well established in clinical research but applied these in the preclinical arena. The results of his meta-analysis showed that the use of cardiac stem cells as a therapy after myocardial infarction improved the left ventricular ejection fraction by about 10% in published animal models, an effect that was less prominent in larger animals. The jury appreciates his hard work, recognizes its merits and relevance, and applauds the results also in view of the lack of co-authors with a background in meta-analyses and epidemiology.

Professor Frits de waard winners 2016

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