Home » News » And the winner of the Science Café pitch award 2023 is…

And the winner of the Science Café pitch award 2023 is…

Annette Westgeest of Leiden University Medical Center won the Science Café pitch award by audience vote with the pitch on her research. MRSA is commonly known as a deadly superbug. Generally, the bacteria are carried in the nose. The Netherlands has a low prevalence of MRSA due to the search and destroy strategy, but there are still unanswered questions. Westgeest focusses on narrowing down the vulnerable part of the population.

A further eight PhD candidates pitched their research during the NCOH Science Café 2023 at University of Groningen.

Anniek Lotterman of Universiteit Utrecht addresses the research done on pneumonia around goat farms. Lotterman is on a quest to find the cause of this pneumonia incidence.

Iris Vennis of Radboudumc states there is a discrepancy between analyses done in human and veterinarian health research and a relation between the both is not always made. For example, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is found in 80% of the cows in some areas, but not in humans in the same area. In her research Vennis is looking into the possibility of using animal seroprevalence as an indication for prevalence of humans.

Chiara de Bellegarde of UMC Utrecht looks at the prevalence of arboviruses. Her research looks into the possible increased presence of ‘tropical diseases’. Can imported diseases settle in the Netherlands as global warming continues? First results of the testing for specific diseases among travellers coming back to the Netherlands indicate that the import of arboviruses is not very likely: ‘Of the 778 travellers only around a 10 tested positive for antibodies.’

Frits Vlaanderen of RIVM addresses zoonotic awareness and literacy in his research. Young, old, pregnant, and immunosuppressed people are more at risk for zoonoses. ‘Young people, low income groups and men are likely to have risky behaviour when it comes to zoonoses’, states Vlaanderen based on his research thus far. He will continue looking into possibilities to influence behaviour especially within those groups that already are known for taking risks when it comes to zoonoses.

Kiki Streng of Wageningen University & Research researches if animals can help us find flaviviruses that could infect humans? Not all flaviviruses result in symptoms, seroprevalence in dogs and horses tend to be very low. Which animals would likely be better indicators for these flaviviruses is the focus of the ongoing research within her PhD.

Vera Mols of Erasmus MC studying viruses in bats. Bats can maintain a lot of viruses. Mols studies behaviour of bats via camera systems in a church in Limburg, but mainly via their faecal system. ‘Faeces are a goldmine,’ says Vera in her PhD pitch.

Nadja Brait of University of Groningen addresses the importance of endogenous viral elements that can bias virus discovery. Endogenous viral elements (EVEs) can be detected in different ways, says Brait.