Young Investigator Awardees 2007

Stijn Blot born 1968 in Dendermonde, Belgium; PhD, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, Ghent University, researcher at the Ghent University Hospital, Intensive Care Department, in recognition of his outstanding achievements in the field of nosocomial infections, in particular bloodstream infections in critically ill patients. His work, which aims at optimising antibiotic treatment of infections in ICU patients, is of unique relevance to patient care, clinical management and health economics.

Research Interests

Stijn Blot’s research on the epidemiology of nosocomial infections focusses on the clinical impact of infection and resistance in critically ill patients. His work provides insight into the relevance of general disease severity in the prognosis of infected patients and underscores the importance of timely initiation of appropriate antimicrobial therapy in order to limit attributable mortality rates to non-significant proportions. For the purpose of choosing appropriate antimicrobial therapy, he investigates the value of serial surveillance cultures in the ICU to guide empirical therapy while minimising the use of broad-spectrum antimicrobials, and hence, limiting selection pressure.

Christoph Steininger born 1973 in Steyr, Austria; MD, DTM&H, Specialist registrar in Internal Medicine, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria, in recognition of his outstanding achievements in the field of basic and clinical virology. His research on respiratory viruses and CMV focused on the potential leakage of viral genome from the periphery to the CNS in encephalitis patients. He further demonstrated the presence of CMV in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with the Guillain-Barré syndrome and showed that intragenic recombination of CMV may be common in patients with advanced HIV-infection, resulting in new CMV strains with altered biological properties.

Research Interests
Christoph Steininger’s research is focussed primarily on CMV infections in patients with severe disorders of the immune system, including solid-organ transplant recipients and HIV-infected patients. CMV may cause serious, life-threatening disease in these patients, but employs also multiple mechanisms to evade and modify the host’s innate and specific immunity. As a result, the susceptibility to other opportunistic infections is increased in patients with active CMV infection. Understanding the complex interaction between virus and host is essential for the effective prevention and management of CMV-related diseases. Christoph Steininger combines virological and immunological with clinical studies to further elucidate these interactions. The evaluation of interactions between virus and host is also the main topic of his studies of influenza virus infection. Oncovirology has become recently a complementary area of Christoph Steininger’s interest. In particular, he is determined to elucidate the role of viral infections, including CMV, in hematological malignancies.