Since 2007, the Dutch Society for Hematology awards the biennial Swammerdam Prize to a talented hematologist under the age of 45. The prize is named for Johannes Swammerdam, who first described a red blood cell under the microscope in 1658.
Understanding stem cells
Mirjam Belderbos is the second pediatrician to be awarded the €40,000 prize. In her acceptance lecture during the conference, she discussed her research into stem cell transplants, and how you can use fundamental insight into the biology of stem cells to improve this treatment. She plans to use the funding from the award to expand her research into the role of stem cells in bone marrow failure and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a precursor to leukemia.
Belderbos was nominated for the Swammerdam Prize by prof. dr. Josef Vormoor, clinical director of hemato-oncology and dr. Marc Bierings, head of stem cell transplantation. Vormoor: ‘Mirjam is an outstanding, talented clinical researcher and one of the stars of our center. In the combination of clinical tasks and research, we can see her exceptional research talent come to fruition. Recent high-impact publications, prizes and fundraising: it all illustrates her commitment and talent.’
Mirjam sees the Swammerdam Prize as a huge token of appreciation; for herself and for her colleagues. She says: ‘You don't do scientific research alone. Although my name is on the award, there is an entire team that has contributed to this work: students, PhD students, postdocs, group leaders, clinical colleagues... This award is emphatically intended for them, too!’