The distinguished scientists who have given name to our auditoriums
Nikolai N. Anitschkow (1956-2016)
In 1913, experimental pathologist Dr. Nikolai N. Anitschkow showed that simply feeding to rabbits purified cholesterol dissolved in sunflower oil induced vascular lesions closely resembling those of human atherosclerosis, both grossly and microscopically. Controls fed with only the sunflower oil showed no lesions. It is fair to say that this paper marked the beginning of the modern era of atherosclerosis research.
However, the landmark studies by Dr. Anitschkow were largely rejected at the time. An important reason for this was that the findings were inconsistent with the prevailing view of atherosclerosis. It was generally accepted to be an inevitable accompaniment of aging (the “senescence hypothesis”). If the full significance of his findings had been appreciated at the time, we might have saved more than 30 years in the long struggle to settle the cholesterol controversy.
In honour of Dr. Nikolai N. Anitschkow, the “Anitschkow Prize in Atherosclerosis Research” awarded annually by the EAS recognizes outstanding research in the field of atherosclerosis and linked metabolic disturbances.
Willem Erkelens (Brussels 0.4/Paris 0.5)
In 1975 Willem Erkelens finished his thesis with the title “influence of alcohol and carbohydrates on hypertriglyceridaemia”, followed by a post-doc period in Seattle, where he closely collaborated with John Brunzell and Ed Bierman to further study lipoprotein metabolism. Back in the Netherlands his research focused on the role of CETP in human lipoprotein homeostasis, but he also started the collection of families with familial combined hyperlipidemia to elucidate the corporate genetic background involved in the pathobiology of the disease. Besides his scientific achievements, he chaired the department of Internal Medicine at the University Medical center Utrecht for many years, where he was an inspiration and a role model for young internists in training. In 1998 he hosted the EAS congress with a memorable congress diner in the train traveling through the Netherlands.
Marten Hofker (Auditorium 2)
Marten Hofker was particularly known for his seminal work in dissecting molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying cardiometabolic diseases. He studied Biology at Leiden University, and early on in his career recognized the huge potential of Molecular Biology and Genetics for cardiovascular research. After his PhD on genetic markers for inherited diseases and a postdoctoral fellowship in Toronto, he returned to Leiden university in 1989 to bridge genetics, lipid metabolism, and cardiovascular research. With his great sense for innovation, he was the first to deploy transgenic technologies to study lipid metabolism in mice, generated amongst others the apolipoprotein-E3Leiden mice, carrying a dominant negative mutation that conferred familial dyslipidemia. This transgenic still is one of the most widely used mouse models for this disease. In 2000 Marten Hofker continued his career at the University of Maastricht (2000-2007), heading a large research group on inflammatory processes in atherosclerosis, obesity, and fatty liver disease, a systems biology vision, that again was well ahead of his time. In 2007, Marten Hofker was recruited by the Groningen University to lead a highly productive Molecular Genetics group studying metabolic syndrome, with several breakthrough papers in high-ranking journals.
Next to being a visionary and outspoken scientists, Marten was may be even more renown for his networking qualities, as witness the numerous Dutch and European coordinated networks he was leading or part of, including the European Lipoprotein Club, where he was president for 5 years.
Jacqueline CM Witteman (Colorado 2.1)
Jacqueline Witteman is very well known for her role in the Rotterdam study, the largest population-based cohort in the Netherlands, and generation R cohort. This provided a great opportunity for clinical research. As an epidemiologist, she was interested to elucidate the role of genetics in coronary heart disease. But she also worked on improvement of visualization techniques for atherosclerotic plaque area. Her contribution to the discovery of the genetic landscape for coronary heart disease was crucial as reflected by the large number of publications in several renown journals, including Nature.