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NWO/Spinoza Prize for literature, microbiology, physics and medicine
Date:6/2/2008

eriod with severe mental and motor disabilities.

During her PhD studies, Van der Knaap discovered that patients with the same white matter disorder have similar abnormalities on MRI scans. She subsequently developed a computer-guided pattern recognition system that made the diagnosis of known diseases both quicker and cheaper.

Subsequently, she committed herself to as yet unknown disorders, as her research had revealed that in more than half of the children with a white matter disorder no specific diagnosis could be established. She identified five new diseases, one of which was even named Van der Knaap disease by her peers, and then focussed on discovering their causes. With her staff she managed to identify many of the genes responsible for these diseases, which made prenatal diagnostics possible.

Her ultimate goal is to find effective treatment for children with white matter disorders. With this in mind she breaks through the boundaries of her discipline to follow a disease from its cause to its treatment. She has a talent for building highly successful strategic networks and is a truly multidisciplinary researcher, integrating the disciplines of radiology, neurology and genetics in her own research. Moreover, she combines her research interests with teaching commitments and clinical practice. By doing this she covers the entire spectrum from personal contact with the family of the young patients to identifying new variants of the disease.

Marjo van der Knaap is an internationally renowned authority. As one of the referees wrote: 'From the Middle East to China, everyone knows where to find her.' Each year, she receives more than 600 MRI scans from foreign medics for assessment. The textbook that she with one other author has written about white matter disorders is an internationally used standard work.

Parents of patients praise the empathic but clear manner in which Van der Knaap describes the future perspectives
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Contact: NWO, Department of Information and Communication
voorlichting@nwo.nl
31-703-440-713
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Source:Eurekalert

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