The European Respiratory Society (ERS) is delighted to announce that Dr Benjamin John Marsland, Faculte de Biologie et de Medecine, Service de Pneumologie, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland is this year’s winner of the Society’s annual award for research in the field of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
The ERS COPD Research Award recognises the work of young European ERS members active in pulmonology research and has been awarded for the ninth time this year. Sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim, it consists of a sponsorship totalling 50,000 Euros to be used for scientific research projects in the field of COPD.
This year, the prize of 50,000 Euros goes to Benjamin John Marsland for his discovery that infection of mice with the hookworm, Nippostrongylus brasiliensis, leads to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema. Overt disease was noted within 2 weeks following infection, and continued to develop for more than a year in what appeared to be a self-perpetuating disease cycle. Notably, the gene expression profile of hook-worm induced emphysematous lung tissue was similar to that of cigarette-smoke induced emphysema and thus provides a novel model for rapidly studying the development of COPD.
Dr Marsland received his BSc and MSc (distinction) from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. In 2002 he completed his PhD at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research where he worked together with Prof Graham Le Gros. His early research was focused on the influence of influenza virus infection on the development of allergic asthma, where he found that dependent upon the timing of allergen exposure, influenza virus infection could either protect against the development of asthma or in fact, exacerbate it. In 2003 Dr Marsland moved to the Eidgenoussische Technische Hochschule (ETH) under the lead of Prof Laurent Nicod in Zurich, Switzerland where he continued to study the cellular mechanisms that underlie the development of allergy and protective antiviral immunity, particularly focusing upon T helper cell effector function and polarization.
In 2005 Dr Marsland became a Group Leader at the ETH Zurich and his interests expanded to include how Pattern Recognition Receptors, particularly those from the Toll-like Receptor and Nod-like Receptor families, influenced the development of allergy and protective immunity. For his work at the ETH, Dr. Marsland was awarded the ETH Latsis Foundation Award in 2007.
“The ERS is delighted to receive so many applications at such a high standard this year and wishes to thank all applicants for their contributions. In particular, we congratulate Dr Marsland for his excellent work and extend our thanks to Boehringer Ingelheim, a leader in the research and treatment of COPD, for making this award possible,” said Benoit Nemery, ERS Scientific Committee Chair.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to invite members to submit entries for next year’s award.”