From its inception, the core tenet of the WMS has been to nurture the young and to support and encourage them from embryonic myologist to full maturity as scientists and practitioners, establishing and growing their own teams of enthusiastic young researchers. To this end, two prizes were introduced twenty years ago courtesy of Elsevier, publishers of the Society’s journal Neuromuscular Disorders: one prize for best oral and one for best poster presentation in recognition of the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the younger Society members. Recipients of these Elsevier Prizes are honoured with a certificate, and a 500-euro cash prize.
In subsequent years, the number of prizes soon increased. Up to 10 Elsevier Subscription Prizes were introduced to acknowledge runners-up who had narrowly missed one of the main prizes. This gives its recipients a one-year membership to WMS including a subscription to Neuromuscular Disorders to nourish the hungry young minds and encourage them as they develop their careers.
2005 was an auspicious year, celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the WMS at an idyllic setting not far from the Iguaçu Falls in Brazil where delegates enjoying views from their rooms of parroquets and toucans flying amid an abundance of lush tropical greenery. Marking this anniversary year, Victor Dubowitz published his memoirs “Ramblings of a Peripatetic Paediatrician” and during the networking dinner an auction was held for the first unbound copy, the proceeds of which would be used to launch a President’s Prize Fund and the establishment of the President’s Prize for Young Myologist of the Year. At the same time, Peter Bakker representing Elsevier pledged one additional Elsevier Subscription Prize for each year of the congress, to a ceiling of 15 by 2010. However, with the congress expanding each year, the subscriptions prizes were increased to 20 every year from 2011.
One year later, arising from the personal tragedy of a young mother and talented violinist, Natalia van der Mersch, who had lost her baby daughter Léa to spinal muscular atrophy, launched the Léa Rose Foundation, which offered a new prize for the WMS, the Léa Rose Prize for research into SMA. At a moving recital marking the start of the Bruges WMS congress in 2006, Natalia performed some beautiful melodies on her violin, accompanied on piano by Luc Devos. Following her performance, proceeds from her compact disc of tunes “Salut d’Amour” were donated to the Foundation and Prize. This 500 euro still prize continues at WMS congresses today, and is a much appreciated specialist prize amid the abundance of active research in the field of SMA.
In 2007 a thriving President’s Prize Fund enabled the introduction of a second President’s Prize, for the best First Timer in the muscle field. This prize could accommodate new talent moving from other disciplines in the field of science who were not necessarily “young” but simply new to myology.
A further prize was introduced in 2012 thanks to the Duchenne Research Fund and was awarded for the first time at the congress in Perth. This 500 euro prize focused on young researchers working in the Duchenne muscular dystrophy field. Again, the addition of a prize dedicated to this field of research is particularly welcome given the significant number of presentations on the topic at the WMS congresses.
We are of course well aware of the many prominent senior experts in the field of neuromuscular disorders today. Take a look at the names of the young, unknown prizewinners from the early years of WMS and you’ll see how many are very familiar now! And today, winners of the Young Myologist of the Year prize are called upon to join the Prize Committee to become familiar with the selection and judging process for future congresses, and also bringing their own fresh thoughts and strong muscle to the team, helping to shape the WMS of tomorrow.
All prize winners are decided by an international, multidisciplinary prize committee. Details of prizewinners in previous years are available here.
Elsevier Prizes for Best Oral or Poster Presentation
Six Elsevier Prizes for the best oral or poster presentations by young scientists (clinical or basic).
Elsevier Runner-up Subscription Prizes
A series of 20 additional Elsevier Awards of one year's membership subscription to the WMS for the runners-up Prizes.
President’s Prize for the Young Myologist of the Year
The President’s Prize for the Young Myologist of the Year funded from the President's Fund from proceeds of Honorary Lifetime President Victor Dubowitz’s memoirs (Ramblings of a Peripatetic Paediatrician).
President’s Prize for Best First-Time Presenter
Additional President's Prize for the best presentation by an early career/ first-time presenter. Those who wish to be a candidate for this award should indicate that you are a first-time presenter on the online abstract submission page.
President's Prize for Best Basic Science Poster
Additional President's Prize for the best basic science presentation this was added in 2022.
Léa Rose Prize
This annual award is for the presenter of the most important contribution to rare genetic disease research at the WMS Congress.
Duchenne Research Fund Prize
Duchenne Research Fund Prize for the best presentation by a young myologist on therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.