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Eric Salmon receives the “Roger Van Geen” Chair

03 February '21

On Wednesday, February 3, 2021, Eric Salmon received the “Roger Van Geen 2019” Chair. Eric Salmon is a doctor of medicine, specialising in neurology and nuclear medicine. The prize was awarded by the Director-General of SCK CEN Eric van Walle, the Chair of SCK CEN’s Scientific Council Thomas Pardoen, and Véronique Halloin, Secretary General of F.R.S.-FNRS.  (Portrait photograph: ©vedia)

SCK CEN - Roger Van Geen (2021)

It was some years ago when Professor Roger Van Geen first put the importance of preserving and transferring knowledge on the agenda within SCK CEN. The purpose of SCK CEN's ‘Roger Van Geen’ Chair is to reward outstanding scientists who have continued to uphold that approach within the wider nuclear domain. The award is granted by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) and the Fund for Scientific Research (F.R.S.–FNRS). As Eric van Walle, the Director-General of SCK CEN went on to explain, “the Roger Van Geen Chair is awarded in recognition of outstanding research.” It is accompanied by a financial prize of €12,500.

There can be no doubt that the work of Prof. Dr. Eric Salmon is deserving of the label ‘outstanding academic research’. He was elected the winner of the ‘Roger Van Geen 2019’ Chair by an independent jury. As Van Walle went on to point out, “Prof. Dr. Eric Salmon has dedicated his career to neurodegenerative conditions and does everything within his power to gain a more detailed understanding of them. Numerous publications in that field also bear his name.”

SCK CEN - Roger Van Geen (2021)

Neurodegenerative conditions affect the neurons in the brain, causing certain areas of the brain to decrease in size and age prematurely. “Early detection is therefore of paramount importance, as it increases the likelihood that any treatment provided will be effective in stabilising, slowing down or alleviating the condition,” explained Prof. Dr. Eric Salmon. His work complements the initiatives under way at SCK CEN in the area of nuclear medicine.

A second selection criterion that is taken into account by the jury from the FWO and FNRS is a track record in teaching. “Additional value is accorded to excellence in collaborative research, in which scientists share the knowledge they have acquired with their peers and with the next generation of researchers. That is why we are organising a series of lectures, in which the nominee will provide an insight into his expertise," said Michèle Coeck, Head of the SCK CEN Academy.

At that point in time, the neurological condition hasn't yet caused any irreversible damage, which is why treatments can achieve the best results at that stage.
Eric Salmon

A series of lectures

In the coming weeks, Eric Salmon will deliver a series of lectures, in which he will provide students, academics and researchers from SCK CEN and other institutions with an insight into his work.  “This promises to be a very interesting programme,” said Michèle Coeck (SCK CEN Academy). The programme will include lectures on the subject of:

  • molecular imaging and biomarkers for new concepts of neurodegenerative conditions (such as ALS, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease);
  • biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia, a type of dementia that often occurs at a younger age;
  • biomarkers encountered in patients suffering from Parkinsonian syndromes;
  • the molecular imaging of synaptopathy. Synaptopathy is a brain condition in which the synapses – the connections between nerve cells – no longer operate. That is most important explanation for symptoms of neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease.
SCK CEN - Roger Van Geen (2021)

Biomarkers are natural molecules, genes or other biological characteristics that tell us more about the processes taking place in the body. ”Amongst other things, they enable us to predict which patients will go on to develop conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease. As has been said before, we must not underestimate the importance of this. At that point in time, the neurological condition hasn't yet caused any irreversible damage, which is why treatments can achieve the best results at that stage,” stated Prof. Dr. Eric Salmon.

The Roger Van Geen Chair 2021: now open for registrations

The “Roger Van Geen” Chair is awarded – at the initiative of SCK CEN – once every two years by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) and the Fund for Scientific Research (F.R.S.–FNRS). Registrations for the "Roger Van Geen" Chair 2021 opened at the beginning of January and the nomination dossier must have been submitted to the FWO no later than 12 April 2021.

More information

Prof. Roger Van Geen (1935-1995)

Prof. Roger Van Geen obtained his Master's degree in Physics and a doctorate in Science at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). He went on to become a Professor and Dean in the Faculty of Sciences and Applied Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), where he was appointed to the position of Rector in 1974. It was under his rectorship that the university's own hospital, the Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel, commenced its activities and a decision taken by Prof. Van Geen also led to the construction of an oncology centre and a paediatric hospital.

In 1975, Prof. Van Geen joined the Board of Directors of SCK CEN, where he became Managing Director in 1989 and Chairman from 1991 onwards. During his time in office, he made a decisive mark on SCK CEN's scientific ambitions and made a signficant contribution to the development of a major network of international partners. Prof. Van Geen was also a bridge builder in his dealings with politicians and the humanities.

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