Utrecht University: Royal Distinction for Professor of Veterinary Immunology Victor Rutten

Victor Rutten external link reached (Dutch) retirement age early in 2021, an occasion when the ribbon was supposed to be awarded but the ceremony was postponed. Victor Rutten was trained as a biologist with specialisation in immunology. In 1979, he was appointed to the Immunology Working Group at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, a tiny group that had to set up immunology within veterinary medicine. He developed the teaching of veterinary immunology and adapted this curriculum over the course of 40 years in line with the enormous scientific development the field has undergone.

In addition to teaching, Victor has made significant improvements the clinical immunology research line. A special mention should be made of his many projects in developing countries. From 1988-1997, he was visiting professor at the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Zimbabwe in Harare. Since 2006, he has been appointed part-time professor at the Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases of the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Pretoria in South Africa. From this last appointment, he did a lot of research on mycobacterial infections in wild animals. He supervised students and PhD students working on tuberculosis in, among others, lions, elephants and bison.

Victor has also been active in international professional groups such as the Veterinary Immunology Association and the European Veterinary Immunology Group, and he recently received a grant to set up an international education network from the Council on International Veterinary Medical Education. Victor has also earned his managerial spurs within the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. For many years, he has been a member of the Bachelor’s exam committee and he was chairman of the Master’s Education Research Committee.Victor’s appointment in South Africa is still ongoing and he coordinates the Erasmus+ project “Elephant” from Utrecht. A project that he has set up and that is made for him: the implementation of a One Health approach in education and research training within a cooperation of five South African and two European universities and the Southern African Wildlife College.

In other words, a very deserved award for a Utrecht-based scientist with a broad view of cooperation in the world!