The European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) grants the distinguished service award each year to one of its esteemed members. The purpose of this award is to recognize an individual who has made a major contribution in our chosen fields, which can be recognized as a whole life accomplishment, or to celebrate a recent major achievement.
Criteria for selection include the following:
- Outstanding scientific achievements related to pediatric gastroenterology and/or hepatology, and/or nutrition, usually documented by the candidate's publication and citation record.
- Outstanding contributions to the standards, practice, and training in the fields of pediatric gastroenterology and/or hepatology and/or nutrition.
- Outstanding contributions to ESPGHAN as a society.
- Personal integrity.
In 2017, the selection committee elected to grant this prize to Professor Olivier Goulet (Fig. 1). Olivier worked during most of his career at the Necker-Enfant Malades Hospital, affiliated with the University of Paris V-René Descartes, where he dedicated himself to the care of children with gastrointestinal disorders. At Necker, Olivier serves as the Chef de Service of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition and of the Reference Centre for Rare Illnesses of the Gut.
Olivier is a proliferative researcher with more than 300 peer reviewed papers and numerous chapters and books.
Olivier's research interests are many and has in many of them he had a strong impact on our knowledge of these diseases and the way we manage patients. These include, but are not limited to, parenteral nutrition, where Olivier made seminal discoveries and published leading articles on the management of these children and on the long-term care of children in need of parenteral nutrition.
In the field of intestinal transplantation, he took part in the development of intestinal transplantation in the late 1980s as one of the pioneers in this field in Europe. Although intestinal transplantation aimed to replace long-term parenteral nutrition, in those patients with irreversible intestinal failure, Olivier was the leader behind the concept that adequate intestinal rehabilitation, with long-term parenteral nutrition, can prove to be better than intestinal transplantation for patients with intestinal failure.
In short gut syndrome, over the years, Olivier took care of more than 500 patients. As in other forms of intestinal failure, he was, and still is, a world leader in setting the standards for the acute care of these patients, enabling early gut adaptation and achieving gut autonomy. He had a major role in setting the standards in the long-term care of these patients as well.
Olivier has been a driving force in the investigation of congenital enteropathies and has collaborated with other centers to find clinical diagnoses, management protocols, and treatments that may alleviate suffering in these severely ill children. He has been actively involved in the successful determination of the genetic cause for microvillus inclusion disease and tufting enteropathy, and syndromic diarrhea (trichohepatoenteric syndrome). The French National Center (center for rare digestive diseases), has been chaired by Olivier, since 2004, and the team is actively involved in researching their underlying pathology with the development of animal and cell culture models.
Olivier has been a very active and long serving member of ESPGHAN. He was a Council Member (1997–2004), member of the Nutrition Committee (1999–2008), represented ESPGHAN on the FISPGHAN council (2000–2004), was a senior associate editor for Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (2000–2004), and was the President of the Organizing Committee of the second WCPGHN meeting in 2004. As an active member of our society, Olivier left an indelible impression in each one of the committees; he was a part of and was always a role model for innovative thinking and critical appraisal of the evidence.
Last but not least, Olivier is a family man. In his own words: “my greatest challenge during my life has been to achieve a balance between family and professional life, with the ongoing support of my wife Véronique.” Olivier and Veronique raised 4 children, and currently have 5 grandchildren. Again in his own words, “We raised our children to be ‘open minded’ to the world and as individuals with a humanistic view, along with the sense of sharing and tolerance.”
As all of us strive to find the balance between family life and professional success, I find these words the perfect way to end the introduction to the 2017 DSA Award.
Thus, on behalf of ESPGHAN, I wish to congratulate Olivier and to express our sincere gratitude to him for his outstanding contributions to Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, to promoting child health, and to ESPGHAN.