2021 IGO Award, Els Van Damme
Els Van Damme:
Els Van Damme obtained her PhD in Plant Sciences in 1991 at the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium). She is currently appointed as a Senior Full Professor at Ghent University (Belgium) within the Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering.
Prof. Els Van Damme is well known for her contribution to the field of plant lectins. Currently, her research focuses on plant glycobiology and the importance of protein-carbohydrate interactions for plant development and defence. The characterization of many new plant lectins was key to a better understanding of the diversity and multiple roles of plant lectins and contributed to the multiple applications of these lectins for biomedical research, including HIV-AIDS, cancer COVID-19, etc.
The research of Prof Van Damme has been very successful in terms of output. She published over 350 articles in international peer-reviewed journals, and she was the author of the Handbook of Plant Lectins: Properties and Biomedical Applications (published by John Wiley & Sons, U.K.). Prof. Van Damme is an elected member of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and Arts since 2009. She has received several prizes and awards and has been invited as a speaker at multiple international meetings, including the International Conferences on Glycoconjugates.
2021 IGO Young Glycoscientist Award
Dr Elena Chiricozzi’s work focused on the role of the sphingolipids and their derivatives in regulating cell homeostasis and modulating cell surface properties through the interaction with plasma membrane proteins. She obtained her PhD at the University of Milano in 2013, where she studied the glycosphingolipid implication in several pathologies, ranging from neurodegenerative disorders to cancer. Her research activity has developed in the context of several national and international collaborations, which allowed her to obtain a remarkable degree of independence and solid communicative skills and establish new contacts. Currently, her research activity mainly focuses on GM1 ganglioside in relation to both neuronal physiological and pathological implications. She made a significant contribution in understanding the role of the oligosaccharide of GM1 as the bioactive component of the molecule, opening a new perspective on the ganglioside-mediated signalling across the plasma membrane.