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Wierenga-Rengerink Dissertation Prize goes to Alain Dekker

06 July 2018

The Wierenga-Rengerink Prize for the best UG doctoral dissertation in 2017 has been awarded to Dr Alain Dekker for his dissertation ‘Down & Alzheimer: Behavioural biomarkers of a forced marriage’. Dekker received €7,500 in prize money on Friday 6 July 2018 to go towards his further academic development. This happened during the Summer Ceremony , the traditional end of the academic year at the UG.

Alain Dekker
Alain Dekker

Down and dementia

Alain Dekker defended his dissertation ‘Down & Alzheimer: Behavioural biomarkers of a forced marriage’ on 15 November 2017 and was awarded the cum laude predicate. His supervisor was Professor De Deyn (UMCG), whom he met during a lecture on dementia. In his dissertation Dekker discusses how early diagnosis of dementia in people with Down syndrome is of great importance because this allows for tailored care and more targeted treatment that will improve the quality of life. The research was funded by the Gratama Foundation and a fellowship from the Research School of Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciences. Following on from his dissertation, a project has been launched that will involve carrying out the largest behavioural study into dementia in people with Down syndrome. Dekker has succeeded in bringing on board a number of European expertise ce ntres and dozens of care institutions.

Special relationship with the target group

Dekker grew up next door to a day centre for people with a mental disability, and many people with Down syndrome also lived there. It was his parents who set it up. It is no surprise therefore that this group was the focus of his doctoral research. From a young age Dekker had a special connection with people with Down syndrome. In the prologue to his dissertation he shares a special personal story. One of his clients began to deteriorate fast and showed noticeable behaviour change. No one could work out what was going on but when Professor De Deyn referred to Down syndrome in his lecture on dementia the penny dropped. This was the start of Dekker’s doctoral research.

Wierenga-Rengerink Dissertation Prize

The Wierenga-Rengerink Prize has been awarded since 2015 for the best UG doctoral dissertation. Each faculty chooses its own winner and a jury of (former) rectores magnifici chooses a winner from this group. The prize is presented by rector Elmer Sterken at the Summer Ceremony. UG alumni provide the prize money through the Ubbo Emmius Fund. In 2017, the jury decided on an exceptional basis to award the prize to two recipients: Nigel Hamilton for his dissertation ‘Commander in Chief: FDR’s battle with Churchill, 1943’ and Jordi van Gestel for his dissertation ‘The evolution of bacterial cell differentiation and multicellular organization’.

Last modified:11 July 2019 1.09 p.m.
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