Northern neurologist wins international medical research prize

Dr. Jacqueline Pettersen. UNBC photo
Dr. Jacqueline Pettersen. UNBC photo

Dr. Jacqueline Pettersen, a cognitive/behavioural neurologist with the Northern Medical Program, received the Fritz Wörwag Research Prize in Germany this month for her medical research on Vitamin D and cognition.  Pettersen was one of two recipients for the award and the lone recipient from North America.

It is only the ninth time that the prize has been given out in 30 years. The award was established in 1988 by Wörwag Pharma, a German family-owned company, that specializes in nutrients. Prize winners are determined by an independent jury of medical scientists.

“To know that my work is being noticed, and to receive such recognition, provides an incredible sense of validation that my research is important and impactful, not just at a local level, but on the world stage,” said Pettersen, in a news release.

She was presented with one of the two Fritz Wörwag prizes offered this year, which includes a cash prize of 8000 Euros, in Berlin at a special awards ceremony on May 9.

“It was a wonderful experience to be able to meet other researchers from around the world whose interests overlap with mine, and I am excited about the potential opportunities that may arise for international collaboration on future research. I am passionate about the importance of healthy living for disease prevention. I look forward to continuing my work in the area of vitamin D and cognition in particular, but also more broadly, in nutrition and cognition.”

The 2018 prizes were awarded for works which make a significant contribution and contain new experimental or likewise clinical findings on biofactors (micronutrients) for neuroprotection. The prize aims to support and promote researchers in the field of clinical applications of biofactors.

The award was given to Dr. Pettersen in recognition of her research study, entitled, “Does high dose vitamin D supplementation enhance cognition?” which was published in Experimental Gerontology in 2017. 

The study demonstrated a significant improvement in visual (nonverbal) memory in individuals who were provided 4000 IU of vitamin D per day over 18 weeks.