Wednesday June 24th 2020



In recognition of his outstanding work in rheumatology, Prof. Dirk Elewaut (VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research and Ghent University Hospital) is the first Belgian scientist to receive the Carol Nachman prize. This award is considered as the world’s highest honor awarded to a rheumatologist.

The Carol Nachman Prize is one of the most highly respected medical prizes. This year, the laureates are Prof. Dirk Elewaut (VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research and Ghent University Hospital) and Prof. Christopher Buckley (University of Oxford and Birmingham, UK). 

The Prize is given in recognition of outstanding innovative research in the field of rheumatology. It serves to promote further clinical, therapeutic and experimental research work. The prize has been awarded to 82 internationally recognized world leaders in rheumatology since its inception in 1972. The twelve-member board of trustees that selected the laureates included expert rheumatologists and representatives of the city of Wiesbaden.

Upon hearing of the award, Prof. Elewaut said: “Arthritis affects millions of people worldwide. It may affect individuals at any age and has a strong impact on their quality of life and society in general.”

Prof. Elewaut’s work focuses on the mechanisms of inflammation and associated tissue damage in arthritis.  He is specifically interested in the link between gut and joint inflammation and the role that biomechanical stress (or ‘overuse’) plays in rheumatic diseases. The speaker of the Carol Nachman board of trustees, Prof. Elisabeth Märker-Hermann (Wiesbaden) explained that this is the first time that the Prize was awarded to a rheumatologist working on the gut– joint–axis in the pathogenesis of rheumatic diseases.

“It is a great honor to receive this prestigious award. It reflects the extraordinary efforts of our multidisciplinary team from bench to bedside to better understand the mechanisms leading to arthritis, in order to better combat the disease and improve overall outcome,” Elewaut said.

Jo Bury, managing director of VIB, adds: “This is indeed a great honor for Dirk and for VIB. It illustrates how our efforts to support multidisciplinary research lead to groundbreaking science and tangible patient benefits.”

Dirk Elewaut is a global leader in the field of arthritis research. He is Professor of Medicine at Ghent University and Chair of the Department of Rheumatology, Ghent University Hospital, and international Center of Excellence of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) and the Federation of Clinical Immunological Societies (FOCIS). He is also Principal Investigator at the VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research. He is currently the Chair of the Belgian Society for Rheumatology and member of the EULAR Executive Committee. 

Prof Bart Lambrecht, director of the center added: “Over two decades, Prof Elewaut and his team have led preclinical and clinical translational research in inflammatory arthritis at the highest international level.  We are extremely proud and happy to have Dirk as a colleague, because he is an example to many young doctors and scientists.”

Dirk Elewaut and his team continue to advance the field in collaboration with other leaders in the rheumatology research community, including former Nachman Prize recipients. “It is our ambition to revert the current need for chronic, usually life-long, therapy into a temporary treatment schedule” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to implement these new treatment modalities into daily clinical practice, thereby making a significant difference for patients suffering from arthritis.”