Prof. Annemie Schols honoured for bridging disciplines in COPD research

Annemie Schols, professor of Nutrition and Metabolism in Chronic Diseases at Maastricht University and director of the School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism (NUTRIM), is the first recipient of the prestigious ERS COPD GOLD Medal from the European Respiratory Society (ERS). She is being honoured for her research findings and her efforts to bring together interdisciplinary COPD research.

Annemie Schols researches the chronic disease COPD from a metabolic perspective. Her primary focus is on understanding abnormal body composition phenotypes, such as muscle wasting. She combines experimental and clinical research to understand the complex relationship between lifestyle and disease severity in different COPD phenotypes. This creates new opportunities for tailored nutritional and pharmacological interventions. The recent joint ERS and American Thoracic Society guidelines for treating COPD highlight the impact of her research.

With her research, Schols hopes to call attention to an extremely vulnerable COPD phenotype characterised by a combination of muscle wasting and abdominal adiposity (accumulation of fat in the abdomen). This phenotype is expected to rapidly increase worldwide due to changing lifestyles and aging populations. Her future research will focus on the effect of energy imbalance and adipose tissue dysfunction on muscle maintenance and systemic inflammation.

'Professor Schols has a great talent for bringing people together across disciplines to improve COPD research and the lives of COPD patients,' says Stephen Holgate, chair of the ERS Science Council. 'Her research on the relationship between lifestyle factors and disease severity is helping to change the way we approach the topic.'

ERS launched its new COPD GOLD Medal Award to recognise excellence in COPD research. The award includes a €50,000 prize and will be presented during the 2015 ERS International Congress in Amsterdam on 26 September.

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