Beijerinck Virology Prize for research on Zika and dengue viruses

23 January 2019

Virologist Eva Harris is to receive the Beijerinck Virology Prize (35,000 euros) from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences for her efforts to improve public health worldwide. Harris is a research director at the University of California, Berkeley (United States). The Academy has also selected the winners of the two Beijerinck Premiums (25,000 euros) for young virologists. They are Rory de Vries (Erasmus MC Rotterdam) and Robert de Vries (Utrecht University).

Eva Harris has been awarded the prize for her outstanding research on viruses in general and on arboviruses in particular. 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. 

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.

Beijerinck Premiums

Rory de Vries (born 1982) is receiving the premium for his research on the human body's defences against respiratory viral infections, and for his ability to communicate his knowledge of virology and infectious diseases to a wide audience. Rory de Vries is a post-doctoral researcher at Erasmus MC in Rotterdam. 

Robert de Vries (born 1983) is receiving the premium for his important research on the receptor-specificity of viruses, including the influenza virus. In his doctoral research, he demonstrated that complex branched polysaccharides are the most important receptors for the influenza virus. Robert de Vries is an assistant professor at the Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University.

Awards ceremony

The KNAW Beijerinck Prizes will be presented on Friday 8 March after the conclusion of the Dutch Annual Virology Symposium (DAVS). Eva Harris will deliver the Beijerinck Lecture and the two premium winners will give brief talks about their work. For more information, see www.knaw.nl/en-davs

About the Beijerinck Prizes

The KNAW Beijerinck Virology Prize is awarded every other year to an international researcher who has done exceptional work in virology. Two Beijerinck Premiums are also awarded every other year to post-doctoral researchers who are conducting outstanding virus-related research at a Dutch research institution.