Beijerinck Virology Prize for research on hepatitis C and Beijerinck Premium for research on viral evolution

26 January 2021

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences  has awarded Ralf Bartenschlager the M.W. Beijerinck Virology Prize for his efforts to combat hepatitis C. He will receive the €35,000 prize and a medal at the Dutch Annual Virology Symposium on 5 March 2021. Virologist Sebastian Lequime will receive the Beijerinck Premium (€ 25,000) for young virologists at the same event.

Beijerinck Virology Prize

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.

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.

Beijerinck Premium

Sebastian Lequime is to receive this year’s Beijerinck Premium for his research on viral evolution. He searches viral genetic material for clues as to their origins and how they are transmitted. He is particularly interested in viruses transmitted by insects and ticks and in viruses that infect bacteria. In addition to his research, Lequime also does a significant amount of outreach. For example, he contributes to the Vir(Ev)o YouTube channel, devoted to explaining the basic concepts of viral evolution and molecular epidemiology.
Lequime (born 1988) is assistant professor at the University of Groningen’s Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences.

Awards ceremony and Beijerinck Lecture

The Academy’s Beijerinck Prizes will be presented on 5 March 2021 after the conclusion of the Dutch Annual Virology Symposium (DAVS). Ralf Bartenschlager will deliver the Beijerinck Lecture. Sebastian Lequime and Jelke Fros, the winner of the 2020 Beijerinck Premium, will both give brief talks about their work. For more information, see https://knaw.nl/davs-2021.

About the awards

The M.W. Beijerinck Virology Prize is awarded every two years to an internationally recognised researcher in the field of virology. The Beijerinck Premium is awarded annually to a post-doctoral researcher who is conducting outstanding virus-related research at a Dutch research institution.