Westenbrink prize 2017/2018: Pascal Miesen
The H.G.K.Westenbrink prize 2017/2018 has been awarded to Dr. Pascal Miesen for his thesis "Untangling the piRNA pathway in the arbovirus vector mosquito Aedea aegypti" (promotor: Prof. dr. R. van Rij, Radboud University Medical Center). The jury was very impressed with the research described by Dr. Pascal Miesen in his PhD Thesis. Pascal discovered two novel functions of RNA interference in mosquito, namely the involvement of piRNAs in gene regulation as well as the defense against arboviruses. In order to unravel the mechanism of this latter immune function, Pascal created a novel technological platform. His work is highly cited and has been presented at international meetings. The jury was particularly impressed with the clarity by which the PhD thesis was written. The thesis includes a Prelude, seldom seen in a PhD thesis, and two chapters for the general discussion. In addtion the beautiful figures provide clear explanations of the scientific findings. Pascal’s discovery of the role of piRNAs in the immune system of the mosquito is expected to open up a whole new field of research as it provides opportunities for the development of anti-viral therapies against serious diseases, such as Dengue and Zika.