The ABCD and Merial Young Scientist Award 2009 has been presented to JonasWensman from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU,Uppsala).

Jonas Wensman (centre), Jean-Christophe Thibault from Merial (left) and Marian Horzinek from the ABCD

Mr Wensman received the award for his work on Borna virus infection in cats and in particular the development of a real-time RT-PCR diagnostic assay.

The ABCD and Merial Young Scientist Award, created in 2008 and worth1000 €, is funded by Merial and is presented to a young scientist inveterinary or biomedical science, who has made an original contributionin the field of feline infectious diseases and/or immunology.

Mr Wensman said: “Borna virus infection or staggering disease is a fatal, progressive, neurological disorder which also affects cats. At present, the tentative diagnosis is made clinically by excluding other causative agents and on the basis of history and epidemiology. The need for sensitive and specific diagnostics has led to he development of a real-time RT-PCR assay, which is currently under evaluation.”

The award was presented by Marian Horzinek, chair of the advisory board on cat diseases (ABCD), on June 20, during the congress ofthe European Society of Feline Medicine in Dubrovnik.

Professor Horzinek said: “The standard of the applications we received was very high, but the entire jury agreed on the quality of the work of Dr Wensman. This may well be the first of a number of awards he will collect in his career.”

Jean-Christophe Thibault, Merial’s technical director for biologicals (Europe, Middle East and Africa), said: “True to Merial’s mission statement of being an innovation-driven leader in animal health, we are very proud to have made this European award possible. Initiatives such as these, in association with renowned scientific bodies like the ABCD, highlight promising young researchers and the teams to which they belong.”

Both Professor Horzinek and Dr Thibault agreed that Jonas Wensman, under the tutorship of Professors Mikael Berg and Sándor Belák (SLU, Uppsala), has contributed lasting insights into an enigmatic feline infectious disease.

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Applications for the 2010 award are now being invited (deadline December 1, 2009). Candidates should be based in Europe, have completed a veterinary or biomedical curriculum, and be under 35 years of age at the time of application.

Application forms and detailed rules can be downloaded from the ABCD website. For further information, please contact Karin de Lange, ABCD secretary, karin.delange@abcd-vets.org

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