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Marjan Pirard awarded Prof Jozef Vandepitte Prize of 2021

Dr Pirard received the award for her key role in ITM’s MSc in Public Health

In 2021, the Prof Jozef Vandepitte Prize of the association of “Development Aid Doctors & Pharmacists Alumni of Leuven” was awarded to Dr Marjan Pirard, Education Coordinator at ITM's Department of Public Health. The prize is given for sustainable educational projects in low-income countries. Dr Pirard received the award for her key role in our MSc in Public Health.

The Prof Jozef Vandepitte prize is handed out by the association of “Development Aid Doctors & Pharmacists Alumni of Leuven”. The main task of the association is to support and promote development cooperation, realised by doctors and pharmacists, all alumni of the KU Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven). The Prof Jozef Vandepitte Prize is an initiative of the association to promote medical education in low- and middle-income countries. The prize celebrates the legacy of Prof Em Jozef Vandepitte of the KU Leuven, who actively promoted education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo throughout his long career. The prize amounts to 2,500 euros and is awarded every two years.

Marjan Pirard is an alumna of KU Leuven herself, obtaining her medical degree there in 1985. Later she obtained diplomas in Tropical Medicine (ITM, 1986), General Medicine (KU Leuven, 1993), Biostatistics & Epidemiology (ULB, 1993) and Public Health (ITM, 1994). Since 2012 she is Head of the Education Unit of ITM’s Department of Public Health, where she coordinates and supports the MSc in Public Health, postgraduate courses and short courses. She also has extensive field experience: she worked in Bolivia as a project manager for the Belgian Technical Cooperation and in Zimbabwe as a volunteer for Medicus Mundi Belgium. In all these countries, coaching and training of medical staff has remained a leitmotiv in her career.

In her present position, Dr Pirard is the key figure of the Master of Science in Public Health at ITM. Every year, about forty students follow the Master of Science in Public Health, a programme that is internationally renowned. Most students come from low-income countries, combine a good basic education with a convincing motivation and relevant work experience, and use the programme to work on a master’s thesis relevant to public health in their home country. Marjan is a true driving force behind the follow-up of the quality of teaching, the guidance of students, the introduction of new teaching methodologies and the regular adjustments that keep the programme relevant in an ever-changing world.

Marjan said: "The prize and the heartwarming reactions I received from ITM alumni and staff inspire me in my future work. The prize is also a recognition of the collective effort of colleagues in our MPH master programme." 

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