Jacqueline Pettersen receives the Fritz Wörwag Research Prize

Jacqueline Pettersen, Associate Professor in the Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine receives the German Diabetes Society’s 2018 Fritz Wörwag Research Prize. She is one of two recipients of the award this year; it is only the ninth time in the award’s 30 year history it has been handed out. The award includes a prize of 8,000 Euros and was given out on May 9.

The Fritz Wörwag Research Prize aims to support and promote researchers in the field of clinical applications of biofactors. The 2018 awards were given for work making a significant contribution to, and containing new experimental or likewise clinical findings on, biofactors (micronutrients) for neuroprotection.

Dr. Jacqueline Pettersen earned the award for her research entitled, “Does high dose vitamin D supplementation enhance cognition?” The study was published in 2017 in Experimental Gerontology. The study demonstrated an improvement in visual memory in people who were provided 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day over 18 weeks.

“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 Dr. Pettersen in a statement.

“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.”

According to Dr. Pettersen, over one billion people in the world face vitamin D insufficiency. Northern BC is no exception, as long winters can keep residents from getting the nourishment they need.

“What I wanted to know is whether supplementing individuals with vitamin D could actually improve their cognition, their aspects of attention as well as different types of memory,” explains Dr. Pettersen, saying she split survey participants into two groups, one with a high supplement (4,000 UI) and one with a low supplement (400 UI) of the vitamin. 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.