|Professor Annemie Schols' career is characterised by her advocacy for connecting and bridging disciplines to advance the field of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). As director of the School for Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism (NUTRIM) at Maastricht University, she was awarded a prestigious grant in 2011 by the Netherlands Research Council. The grant enabled her graduate program on metabolism and disease, which stimulates interdisciplinary working between scientists involved in different disease areas, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
Professor Schols' research focuses on understanding COPD heterogeneity from a metabolic perspective; she conducts translational research into abnormal body composition phenotypes with a focus on skeletal muscle maintenance and bioenergetics. She combines mechanistic approaches and randomised clinical trials with epidemiological analyses in patient and population cohorts to capture the complex interplay between lifestyle factors and disease severity. This lead to new ideas for tailored nutritional and pharmacological interventions. The recent joint ERS and American Thoracic Society guidelines highlighting the importance of multidimensional COPD phenotyping including body composition illustrate the clinical impact of her research.
Professor Schols recently called for attention to a 'vulnerable' COPD phenotype characterised by a combination of muscle wastage and abdominal adiposity. This phenotype is likely to rapidly increase worldwide due to obesogenic lifestyles and aging populations. Her future work will be directed towards the effect of energy balance deregulation and adipose tissue dysfunction on muscle maintenance and systemic inflammation.
Professor Stephen Holgate, Chair of the ERS Science Council, said: "Professor Schols has a great skill for bringing people together across disciplines to improve research into COPD and the lives of those who have the disease. Her work on how lifestyle factors are connected to disease severity is helping to change and shape the way we approach the topic."
ERS has launched this new award to recognise excellence in COPD research. The ERS COPD Gold Medal grants €50,000 to a researcher who has made an outstanding contribution in the field of COPD and is pursuing an active research project in COPD. This prize is financially supported by financially supported by Boehringer Ingelheim.
Professor Schols was presented with the ERS Gold Medal in COPD during the Opening
Ceremony, on Saturday 26 September, 2015 from 17:45 in the Auditorium. Professor Schols also gave a talk on nutrition in COPD at the 'Nutrition in chronic respiratory disease symposiumchronic respiratory disease symposium.'