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Raphael Chouinard-Watkins

Science and Technology Award 2016: Europe

On 9 September 2016, Raphael Chouinard-Watkins received the annual DSM Science and Technology Award at the 12th Congress of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL), in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in recognition of his fundamental studies on the mechanisms underlying Alzheimer’s disease. An international jury, chaired by Dr. Norman Salem Jr., Senior Science Fellow at DSM, selected Raphael from among the other excellent candidates for his outstanding research in the role of nutritional lipids in Alzheimer’s disease.
Raphael Chouinard-Watkins

Talking after the congress, Raphael gave thanks to the jury, and outlined his views on the role of science in creating a better world. The award comes after a lifelong interest in science: even as a teenager, Raphael was interested in the role of nutrition.

An early curiosity in how the world worked

As a child, I showed an usual interest in science and solving problems in a systematic way,” says Raphael. “I remember that as a six-year-old child, I asked for a dictionary as my Christmas present. In primary school, I was fascinated by the planets and the lessons on human anatomy.”

As I grew a little older, I took up racket sports, and my scientific interest shifted to nutrition and the optimization of human physiology. Nutrition is key to a healthy body, but it seemed to me that the public was badly informed about nutritional science. For example, there seemed to be a prevailing view that all fat was bad for human health. In actual fact, some fats are very important to maintaining our health.”

Creating brighter lives with science

To a large extent, I see my scientific career to be driven by this desire to improve society and create brighter lives. Today’s scientists play an active role in better informing people, and shaping health policies.”

I studied Pharmacology for my Bachelor’s degree, and then I did my Master’s and Ph.D. in Physiology at the Université de Sherbrooke, Québec. I hope that through my research and expository papers, I’ve been able to contribute to shedding light on the chemical mechanisms underlying Alzheimer’s disease, and ultimately help real people.”

Being a researcher is a dream job for me, and I would like to continue dedicating myself to the field of nutritional science. I’m only in my early thirties, so we’ll have to see where exactly I go from here, but I’m sure I’ll continue to research socially relevant issues.”