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Assembly on Respiratory Structure and Function Ann Woolcock Memorial Award

Meet the 2023 Winner: Simon D. Pouwels, PhD


simon puwels

Simon D. Pouwels is a researcher at the Department of Pulmonology and the Department of Pathology & Medical Biology of the University Medical Center Groningen in The Netherlands. Additionally, Dr. Pouwels is affiliated with the Groningen Research Institute for Asthma and COPD (GRIAC). Dr. Pouwels received his PhD in 2017 on the topic of: “DAMPs, Endogenous Danger Signals Fueling Airway Inflammation in COPD” with the distinction ‘cum laude’, awarded to the top 5% of PhD students in The Netherlands.  He has been a member of the ATS since 2013. He is an active ATS RSF Early Career Professionals Working Group member from 2020 until today. Furthermore, he has organized and presented at the ATS2021 symposium entitled: “Lung Epithelial Damage and Repair; From Lung Cell Death to Epithelial Repair.”

During his PhD Simon has proposed novel concepts that became the groundwork for developing the niche that forms his current research line. He combined in vitro studies on cellular and molecular mechanisms of COPD, using state-of-the art models such as organoids, precision cut lung slices and lung-on-chip models, with validation studies in patient samples to identify the role of Damage Associated Molecular Patterns (DAMPs) and their receptors in the pathophysiology of COPD, with a special focus on the DAMP receptor RAGE. Simon Pouwels continues to build on this line of research by new projects based on the role of cell death and damage responses in the development of COPD co-morbidities as well as upon bronchoscopic intervention treatments.

In 2021, Dr. Pouwels was appointed in a permanent position, as an independent researcher at the University Medical Center Groningen where he is now establishing his own research team. Dr. Pouwels will work with RSF assembly members to continue to increase the visibility of the RSF assembly within the ATS and to increase the Assembly’s international linkages.

Award Description

This award honors the life of the late Ann Woolcock, M.B.B.S., F.R.A.C.P., A.O.,  of Sydney University.  Dr. Woolcock was an international leader in the field of asthma in areas of epidemiology, physiology and medicine.  The eligibility criteria for this award have been designed to reflect Dr. Woolcock's priorities during her long, prolific career.  The award is intended for all areas of research on obstructive airway disease.  It is further intended as recognition for overall accomplishment and future promise by a junior investigator.  Nomination of diverse candidates is encouraged.

The award consists of a certificate and an honorarium, which will be presented at the ATS International Conference.  RSF gratefully acknowledges GlaxoSmithKline and the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand for their support of this award.


  • Junior investigator at the rank of postdoctoral or medical fellow, assistant professor or equivalent
  • Normally RSF Assembly membership, but suitable candidates from other ATS Assemblies will be considered
  • More than one first-authored paper in a well-respected journal
  • Early career accomplishments and future promise
  • Research efforts in broad area of obstructive airway disease, which may include work at the basic, clinical, epidemiological or other levels
  • Nominee’s current curriculum vitae including a list of nominee’s publications
  • Nominator’s letter of recommendation

Nomination letter should describe nominee's:

  • Research contributions in broad area of obstructive airway disease
  • Independence or future potential for independence
  • Involvement in ATS, including any involvement in RSF Assembly
  • Service to the broader scientific or medical community, if applicable
  • Mentorship or teaching activities


Nominate Here


View Previous Award Recipients

2022 - Laura Walkup, PhD (University of Cincinnati)

2021 - Kimberley Wang, PhD. (The University of Western Australia)

2020 - Corrine Kliment, MD, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh)

2019 - Matthew Drake, MD (Oregon Health and Science University)

2018 - David Chapman, BSc, Ph.D. (Royal North Shore Hospital)

2017 - Pawan Sharma, Ph.D. (University of Technology)

2016 - Amir A. Zeki, MD (University of California, Davis)

2015 - Jeremy Alexander Hirota, BSc, Ph.D. (University of British Columbia)

2014 - Jin-Ah Park, Ph.D. (Harvard School of Public Health)

2013 - Cindy Thamrin, Ph.D. (Woolcock Institute of Medical Research)

2012 - Tillie-Louise Hackett, Ph.D., BS (St Pauls Hospital)

2011 - Graeme R. Zosky, Ph.D. (Telethon Institute for Child Health Research)

2010 - Reinoud Gosens, Ph.D. (University of Groningen)

2009 - Deepak Deshpande, D.V.M., Ph.D. (University of Maryland Baltimore)

2008 - David W Kaczka, MD, Ph.D. (John Hopkins Hospital)

2007 - Janette Burgess, Ph.D. (University of Sydney)

2006 - Steven An, Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins University)

2005 - Parameswaran Krishnan Nair, MD, Ph.D. (McMaster University)

2004 - Julia K.L. Walker, Ph.D. (Duke University)

2003 - John Fuller Hunt, MD (University of Virginia)

2002 - Debra Turner, Ph.D. (University of Western Australia)