2007. Ferry Hagen (NL). "Where is the origin of the Cryptococcus gattii Vancouver Island outbreak?"

In the year 2007, during 13th ECMM Conference (TIMM-3) in Torino, Italy, Ferry Hagen, the PhD student in the Yeast
Research group (CBS, Netherlands) was awarded the Young Investigator Travel Award for his poster entitled "Where is the origin of the Cryptococcus gattii Vancouver Island outbreak?".

In the photo: Ferry Hagen at TIMM-3.
Ferry Hagen. From Mycology Newsletter, 2007. P. 22

Since December 2006, I am working at the CBS Fungal Biodiversity Centre (Utrecht, The Netherlands) as a PhD student in the Yeast Research group headed by Teun Boekhout. Before I started with this PhD research project, I worked for five years in this research group as a technician in the yeast and molecular laboratory studying the epidemiology of Cryptococcus neoformans in the Netherlands and the ongoing outbreak of Cryptococcus gattii on Vancouver Island.

I was completely surprised by the fact that the board of ECMM awarded me, during the Trends in Medical Mycology meeting in Torino, the Young Investigator Travel Award. It is a great honor for me that our poster, entitled ‘Where is the origin of the Cryptococcus gattii Vancouver Island outbreak?’ (authors: Ferry Hagen, Eiko E. Kuramae, Marjan Bovers, Dave J.C. Gerits, Collin H.A. Gerritzen, Wieland Meyer and Teun Boekhout) won this important prize.

This award is an extra stimulant for me, and our “Cryptococcus team”, to further investigate the epidemiology and genetics behind the ongoing outbreak of this pathogenic fungus. Since 2002, our research team is working together with several investigators worldwide to find the answers on several questions regarding the ongoing outbreak of C.gattii on Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia (Canada).

The title of our poster addresses one of the most debated questions in current Cryptococcus research. Other researchers concluded that this outbreak was caused by a same-sex mating between two Australian low virulent C.gattii strains. We have used a plethora of molecular tools to prove this hypothesis, but came to the conclusion that not Australia but most likely the warm environment of Northern South America is the cradle of this outbreak.

During the past years, it became apparent that there was an increase in case reports describing C.gattii and atypical C.neoformans infections in European citizens. This prompted us early 2006 to start, in collaboration with the ECMM Cryptococcus and cryptococcosis working group, an epidemiological study to investigate the genotypic, phenotypic and clinical characteristics of these Cryptococcus strains. This will be another project on which I will work during the coming years, as well as on the finalization of the epidemiology of Dutch cryptococcosis.