Debbie van Baarle has been awarded the Beijerinck Premium (EUR 50,000) by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Van Baarle, who works for Utrecht University Medical Centre, received the prize for her original work on the immunology of viral infections.
The Epstein-Barr Virus infects approximately 90% of all people by the time they reach adulthood. Although symptoms do not generally appear during childhood, later in life the virus can lead to fever, sore throat, swollen lymph glands and severe fatigue. When the body's immune system is weak for example in AIDS sufferers or patients who take immunosuppressives after an organ or bone marrow transplant the virus can cause tumours. Debbie van Baarle is investigating the failure of the immune system of people who carry the Epstein-Barr Virus. The results of her research may help to predict symptoms and develop treatments that can improve the immune response.