Logo UHasselt



News & Calendar

Logo UHasselt Universiteit Hasselt - Knowledge in action


An early christmas    Dec 13, 2018

An early christmas
Dec 13, 2018


Prof. dr. Tim NAWROT



Christmas has come early for our scientists from the Environmental Biology department who are researching preventive medicine at the Centre for Environmental Sciences of Hasselt University, as they have won multiple prestigious awards in the past weeks. Let’s find out why our air pollution researchers are receiving so much praise these days.     


“Recognition is the greatest motivator.” – Gerard Eakedale. 

The first one on the list is no stranger to inSCIght, as dr. Hannelore Bové was already featured last month with her ‘Science Communication Year Prize’ from the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and Art together with dr. Ruben Evens. She also received the “Prof. dr. Paul Vermeire Prize”, from the Flemish Association for Respiratory Healthcare and Tuberculosis Control and The Belgium Association for Pneumology, for her joint work with colleague dr. Nelly Saenen. The goal of this prize is to stimulate top scientific research in the field of respiratory epidemiology. They were awarded for their groundbreaking discovery of a new technology to detect soot particles on an individual level in human samples such as urine.

Next to the Vermeire Prize, dr. Nelly Saenen also won two other awards, the “dr. Monique Govaerts Prize” from the Royal Academy for Medicine and the “Science and Health Prize” of the Higher Health Council. She received both prizes for the work done in her Ph.D. thesis, which mapped the effects of air pollution on the (neuro)development during the prenatal phase and early childhood. An important research project, as children are more vulnerable to the impact of air pollution.

Also dr. Karen Vrijens was honored by the Royal Academy for Medicine. She received the “dr. and Mrs. Decuypers-Van Eeckhoudt Prize” for the pioneering research results she obtained during her time as an FWO post-doctoral researcher. She investigated the effects of various environmental factors, such as air pollution and Body Mass Index, on the unborn/newborn child. 


But it didn’t stop there, as dr. Esmée Bijnens received a prestigious scholarship from the Support Fund Marguerite-Marie Delacroix. With the grant, she will investigate the association between our residential environment and the neurocognitive and behavioral development of twins and triplets during their early childhood.

“I am of course very proud that the efforts of our researchers are recognized and rewarded”, professor Tim Nawrot tells us. “Preventing disease before it starts is critical and our research shows that fundamental biological processes are already influenced by the environment before birth. We start to understand that the timing of exposure during early life is a crucial factor to be considered in health risk assessments. I am glad to see that this shift towards a new form of prevention is also recognized by scientific bodies and our society.”


Dr. Hannelore Bové, dr. Nelly Saenen, dr. Karen Vrijens, dr. Esmée Bijnens and Prof. dr. Tim Nawrot are affiliated with the Centre of Environmental Sciences of Hasselt University.