Albert Osterhaus honoured for work on bird flu and SARS
European Lung Foundation (ELF) has honoured Professor Albert Osterhaus with the
European Lung Foundation Award, in recognition of his major role in the
prevention and containment of respiratory viral infections.
Osterhaus is a world-leading virologist whose
work resulted in breakthrough discoveries about diseases such as bird flu and
1) The discovery
that a Hong Kong flu strain which had killed a 3-year-old boy belonged to an avian
influenza strain called H5N1 and that H5N1 can be transferred into
2) Identifying human metapneumovirus (hMPV), which causes a spectrum of
respiratory illnesses, ranging from mild upper respiratory tract infections to
3) Showing that severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was caused by a
coronavirus that is normally found in civet cats and other carnivorous
Viral infections of the lung could potentially become pandemic and threaten
the lives of many European citizens.
Professor Osterhaus is not only a dedicated researcher, but also campaigns
relentlessly, particularly with the World Health Organisation, to raise understanding and to help
prevent the spread of potential deadly viruses. This focus makes him the perfect
candidate for the European Lung Foundation award, which recognises
outstanding contributors to human health and lung disease.
As stated by Professor Osterhaus, "Failure to act now will leave us empty
handed when a pandemic strikes and will cause needless deaths".
Professor Osterhaus was born in
1948 in the Netherlands. He originally qualified in veterinary medicine, before
moving into research and graduating from Utrecht University in 1978 with a PhD
in virology. He then joined the Netherlands' National Institute of Public Health
and Environment where he held many different roles and, in between producing
vaccines, began studying animal viruses.
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