Flemish founder of Antibiotic Awareness Day wins prize


Herman Goossens of Antwerp University has won the Royal Belgian Academy of Medicine’s five-yearly prize for medical science for his world renowned research into antibiotic resistance

Questioning use of antibiotics

Microbiologist Herman Goossens of Antwerp University Hospital is one of the two winners of the Government Prize for Medical Science, which is handed out only once every five years. Goossens won for his exhaustive research into antibiotic immunity, an ongoing problem partially caused by the overuse of antibiotics.

Head of the hospital’s clinical pathology department and a professor of microbiology at Antwerp University, Goossens (pictured) has spent more than 20 years researching the growing resistance to antibiotics. A worldwide expert in the subject, his work has led to faster tests for antibiotic resistance and to the identification of pathogens.

Additionally, he is the founder of European Antibiotic Awareness Day (18 November), which he launched in 2008 to call attention to the role of overprescribing antibiotics in increased resistance. The campaign was taken up by the World Health Organisation and has now grown into World Antibiotics Awareness Week.

Goossens is credited with not only raising awareness of the medical community’s role in creating antibiotics resistance but also among members of the public, who, he says, need to track and question every use of antibiotics.

The Government Prize for Medical Science has been handed out every five years since 1859. It is now given to two scientists – one from Dutch-speaking and one from French-speaking Belgium. The winners are chosen by a jury made up of members of each language community’s Royal Belgian Academy of Medicine.

The other winner of the prize was Stefan Constantinescu of the Catholic University of Louvain for his research into cancers of the blood. Federal health minister Maggie De Block awarded the prizes, worth €18,000 each, to the two doctors during a ceremony yesterday.

Photo courtesy VRT/YouTube

University of Antwerp

The University of Antwerp is Flanders’ youngest university, but it has quickly made a name for itself in natural and biomedical science research. It is the region’s third-largest university.
Merger - The university was born from the merger of three institutions with roots dating back to 1852.
Ranking - The university placed 13th in the World University Ranking “Top 50 Universities Under 50 years”.
Epidemiology - It was the first university in Flanders to offer a Master’s degree in epidemiology.
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