Jaap van Dissel to receive Academy Medal

6 May 2021

Jaap van Dissel, Director of the Centre for Infectious Disease Control at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (CIb-RIVM) and Professor of Internal Medicine, in particular infectious diseases, at Leiden University, will receive the Academy Medal from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) on 31 May. 

Van Dissel is being awarded the Medal for the way in which he has approached his role as scientific advisor to the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Dutch Government’s crisis team during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Academy awards the Medal every other year to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of science in the Netherlands.

As chairman of the national Outbreak Management Team, Van Dissel has, from the start of the pandemic, devoted himself with unbridled energy and admirable calm to explaining the science behind COVID-19 to politicians and the public. He has done so in a rapidly unfolding crisis under enormous political and public pressure and amidst a storm of scientific debate.

He does not shy away from that debate in his Government briefings, explaining time and again the essence of the issues at hand and the limits of our current knowledge. He never veers far from the role that a scientist can be expected to play and does not allow himself to be lured into making political statements. Jaap van Dissel can rightfully be regarded as an ‘honest broker’ of science.

About the recipient

Jaap Tamino van Dissel (1957) has a distinguished scientific track record. After obtaining his PhD for his thesis on human immunity against intracellular micro-organisms, Van Dissel trained as an internist at Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC), specialising in infectious diseases. He was a Research Fellow at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, both in the United States, and became head of the department of Infectious Diseases at the LUMC, where he was appointed Professor of Internal Medicine, in particular infectious diseases, in 1999. Van Dissel became Director of the CIb-RIVM in 2013.

Award ceremony

The Academy Medal award ceremony will take place on Monday afternoon 31 May during the Academy Afternoon, the annual meeting of Academy members. The programme also includes lectures by Marion Koopmans and Academy President Ineke Sluiter, and a panel discussion on the role of science during pandemics and other disasters.

About the Academy Medal

Every other year, the Academy awards the Academy Medal to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of science in the broadest sense of the word. The Medal was awarded for the first time in 1983. Previous recipients include Paul Schnabel, Robert-Jan Smits and Trudy Dehue.