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The Best of ESPID 2012: 30th ESPID Annual Meeting in Thessaloniki, Greece

Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal: November 2012 - Volume 31 - Issue 11 - p 1187–1189
doi: 10.1097/INF.0b013e31826e3de9
Reports and Reviews from the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases

The European Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases (ESPID) dedicates much of its activities and financial support to Continuing Medical Education and research in the field of pediatric infectious diseases.

The most prominent senior PID scientists in Europe (and increasingly in other parts of the world) contribute generously to the development of the society and the fulfillment of its goals.

ESPID provides the best young scientists with the opportunity to carry on their research and education and has set up >10 award schemes which are available to all its members.

ESPID would like to acknowledge the ESPID Award winners of 2012 and encourage further applications from young scientists for the coming year.

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Traditionally, every year ESPID offers the prestigious Bill Marshall Award to one of its senior members for their contributions to PID in general and to ESPID in particular.

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Prof. Andrew J. Cant

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United Kingdom

After training in internal medicine, infectious diseases, pediatrics and neonatology at St George’s and Guy’s Hospitals in London, Professor Cant held a Medical Research Council fellowship in immunology before completing his training in pediatric immunology and infectious diseases at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, London and L’Hopital Necker, Paris. Appointed as a Consultant in Newcastle 20 years ago, he has set up 1 of 2 nationally designated referral centers for the treatment of children with severe immunological disorders, and a regional pediatric infectious diseases/immunology service with a network of clinics across Northern England, Scotland and Ireland supported by a team of 7 specialists. His unit has successfully led programs developing HSCT and umbilical stem cell transplantation for CD40 ligand deficiency, chronic granulomatous disease, as well as autoimmune conditions such as JIA, IPEX and ALPS. Professor Cant is actively involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, and in the last 15 years, he has been awarded grants of over 2 million Euros to support research into childhood tuberculosis (TB), meningococcal disease, the epidemiology and pathology of primary immune deficiencies, defining the role of HSCT as a treatment for primary immune deficiencies, viral infection in the immunocompromised host, polysaccharide antibody responses following solid organ transplantation and vaccine responses in preterm infants, leading to over 100 peer-reviewed papers and 9 chapters in standard textbooks. He was the joint editor of a much acclaimed handbook entitled “Practical Bone Marrow Transplantation.” For 14 years, he has been the Director for children’s medical services in Newcastle, developing the specialist and general pediatric services by doubling the number of specialists to 80, increasing funding from 24 million Euros to 50 million Euros. Professor Cant has led the development of the new 250 bed children’s hospital in Newcastle which opened in 2010. For 5 years, he led the UK national pediatric infectious diseases group and for 6 years has chaired their training committee. He has frequently been a guest lecturer throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, as well as in the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, Jordan, other Middle Eastern countries and China.

From 2000 to 2004, Professor Cant was chairman of the bone marrow transplant working party of the European Society for Immunodeficiencies; collating and presenting data on Europe wide results of HSCT for immunodeficiency. He was previously chairman of the European Society for Immunodeficiencies educational working party, responsible for summer schools and training events on primary immune deficiencies across Europe.

Professor Cant has also served on the ESPID education and training committees since 1999, representing ESPID at the Confédération Européenne des Spécialistes en Pédiatrie, developing Europe wide training programs in pediatric infectious diseases and immunology that were ratified by the European Medical Union. He was the President of ESPID from 2006 to 2009.

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The ESPID Committee for Scientific Affairs and Awards gave one fellowship award this year.

The goal of this fellowship award is to stimulate scholarly basic science or clinical research that uses advanced techniques and methods to improve the health of children by prevention or management of infectious diseases. Applications with an emphasis on prevention receive a high priority, and preference is given to physician scientists. The award is for 2 years of training, during which the applicants are expected to devote the majority of their time to research.

There were 9 applications this year for the ESPID Fellowship Award. All applications were judged to be of very high quality, making it difficult to select the winners.

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Koen Vanden Driessche

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Koen Vanden Driessche (1979), MD, studied medicine in Leuven, Belgium, and tropical medicine and international health in Antwerp, Belgium. From 2005 to 2006, he worked with Professor Annelies Van Rie in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funded operational research project of the University of North Carolina (United States). Their contributions led to the scaling up of integrated HIV care for TB patients in Kinshasa, DR Congo. Subsequently, he combined his pediatric training (2007–2011) in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, with teaching pediatric infectious diseases and emergency care at the Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium.

His research activities currently focus on prevention of transmission of TB and other respiratory tract infections, supervised by Professors Ronald de Groot (Nijmegen, home institution) Mark Cotton (Cape Town, South Africa) and Ben Marais (Sydney, Australia). In July 2012, Koen will move to Vancouver, Canada, to start an ESPID sponsored fellowship at BC Children’s Hospital. He has developed a model to sample and culture airborne pathogens produced by coughing patients. This enables him to determine the impact of different interventions (different methods of cough etiquette and treatments) on the infectiousness of TB and CF patients, and subsequently develop infection control guidelines. Professors Tobias Kollmann, David Speert and Simon Dobson will be his supervisors during the fellowship in Vancouver.

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This year the ESPID Committee for Scientific Affairs and Awards gave 2 Young Investigator Awards. A first one for basic research and a second one for clinical research.

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Aubrey Cunnington

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United Kingdom (Basic Research)

Aubrey Cunnington graduated from Oxford University Medical School, UK, in 2000, and progressed to postgraduate training in pediatrics in North London. He studied for a Diploma in Tropical Medicine at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2005, and returned there to take up a MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowship in 2008. Working under the supervision of Professor Eleanor Riley and Dr. Michael Walther, he undertook doctoral studies on the mechanisms of susceptibility to bacterial infection induced by malaria. As part of these studies, he also worked at the MRC laboratories in The Gambia. Currently, Aubrey is a specialist registrar in pediatric infectious diseases and immunology, working at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, UK.

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Paula Tähtinen

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Finland (Clinical research)

Dr. Paula Tähtinen obtained her MD degree in the University of Turku, Finland 2004. After graduation, she was working as a general practitioner and resident in pediatrics in Central Finland. In year 2006, she initiated her research project in Turku University Hospital working as a study physician throughout the acute otitis media treatment trial. So far, the highlight of her career has been the publication of an article “A placebo-controlled trial of antimicrobial treatment for acute otitis media” in the New England Journal of Medicine. In near future, Paula Tähtinen will defend her PhD thesis titled “Treatment of acute otitis media.” Her supervisors are ESPID fellowship recipient Dr. Aino Ruohola and Bill Marshall awarded Prof. Olli Ruuskanen. After finishing the PhD thesis, she will continue her specialization in pediatrics. One of her future goals is to find an interesting project for a post doc period because the enthusiasm for clinical research has already been provoked.

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With the aim to support research work design and produce pilot data for further external funding, 6 of those small grants were distributed this year to:

1. Rosie Crane, United Kingdom

2. Daniel Blazquez Gamero, Spain

3. Nicole Ritz, Switzerland

4. Pablo Rojo, Spain

5. Emiel Spuesens, The Netherlands

6. Johannes Trück, Germany

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.