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Carla Hollak, professor of Metabolic Diseases, in particular hereditary metabolic diseases, at the University of Amsterdam and Amsterdam UMC, will receive the Academy Medal from Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) on 30 May. The KNAW has chosen to give Hollak this honour due to her standing as a leading figure in the field of socially engaged medicine, which makes her an inspiration for a new generation of physicians. Hollak is also a driving force behind the debate around the accessibility and affordability of medicines. The KNAW awards the Academy Medal once every two years to a person who has made a special contribution to the cause of Dutch science.

Carla Hollak (photo: Anita Edridge)
Carla Hollak (photo: Anita Edridge)

Hollak's research career has mainly focused on rare metabolic disorders in adult patients. She is a pioneer in this field, having conducted numerous studies on Gaucher disease and Fabry disease in particular. She also initiated and edited the first international textbook on metabolic disorders in adults. In 2004, she set up an outpatient clinic and, together with other university medical centres she developed a network to draw up guidelines for therapy for metabolic disorders in adults.

Hollak's long experience with drugs for rare diseases has enabled her to see both the advantages and the disadvantages of the current system of drug development, accessibility and affordability. She conducts research into that system and makes suggestions for improvements both at home and abroad. Hollak gained national fame when, together with pharmacist Marleen Kemper, she ensured that a medicine for a rare disease remained available through a pharmacy preparation. In 2019, partly due to Hollak’s involvement, the Medicine for Society (Medicijn voor de Maatschappij) platform was established, which aims to improve the availability of these so-called "orphan drugs".  Hollak links science to practice: from academic product development to access processes.

Science and society

‘Through her work, Carla makes an innovative and crucial contribution to the social aspects of medicine. She does this by ensuring her pioneering scientific research is relevant not only to individual patients, but also to important society as a whole,' says Peter-Paul Verbeek, Rector Magnificus of the UvA. ‘The UvA is extremely proud that the KNAW has now bestowed this great honour on Carla – a well-deserved recognition of her great significance to science and society.'


The Academy Medal will be presented on Tuesday, 30 May, during the Academy Afternoon (Akademiemiddag), the annual meeting of the KNAW. President of the jury Ron Fouchier will deliver the laudatio. The programme also includes lectures by Peter-Paul Verbeek, Rector Magnificus of the UvA, and KNAW president Marileen Dogterom.

About the Academy Medal

Since 1983, the KNAW Academy Medal has been awarded every two years to someone who has made a special contribution towards the furthering of science in the Netherlands in a broad sense. Previous winners include Alexander Rinnooy Kan, Dick Swaab, Paul Schnabel, Robert-Jan Smits, Trudy Dehue and Jaap van Dissel.