The Jury has been appointed for the 2021 EU Health Award. This award recognises the work in two topic areas: promotion of communication and health literacy initiatives on cancer prevention among children and young people, and alleviating the mental health impact of COVID-19. Eligible for the Award on cancer prevention are cities, NGOs (and other civil society organisations), and educational institutions, while the Award on mental health targets local authorities or affiliated organisations and NGOs or other not-for-profit organisations.
The Jury is responsible for evaluating the applications according to the pre-established criteria. The Jury is composed of one chair and six jury members per Award topic, all of them having expertise in the field of European public health.
Once the submissions for the 2021 EU Health Award have been evaluated, the Jury will establish the list of winners and shortlisted initiatives per category and Award topic. These initiatives can then be adapted for use elsewhere or serve as inspiration across the EU and beyond. The European Commission will award prizes to the winning and shortlisted initiatives in each category and Award topic, based on the Jury's final decision.
Representatives from the winning and shortlisted organisations, as well as all the Jury members, will be invited to attend the EU Health Award Ceremony, to be held early May 2022 in the context of the EU Health Policy Platform Annual Meeting. More information will be made available closer to the date.
Chair - Isabel de la Mata
Dr Isabel de la Mata is currently the Principal Adviser for Health and Crisis Management in the European Commission.
Previously, she worked as Counsellor for Health and Consumers at the Permanent Representation of Spain to the EU, as Deputy Director General for Health Planning at the Spanish Ministry of Health and as Advisor to the Vice-Minister of Health. In addition, she has worked for WHO, the Pan-American Health Organisation, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation.
Dr de la Mata graduated in Medicine and Surgery at the University of the Basque Country in 1983 and holds post-graduate degrees from the University of Leuven and Paris. She is a specialist in Preventive Medicine and Public Health.
Jury – Award on Cancer Prevention
Marisa Fernández Esteban
Marisa Fernández Esteban is Deputy Head of the Sport Unit, European Commission. She holds a degree of Law from the Autonoma University of Madrid (1992), earning an ERASMUS award for her academic semester in the University of Amsterdam. She holds a PHD in European Law from the European University Institute in Florence (1996) and was a lecturer of European and Constitutional Law at the Autonoma University of Madrid between 1996 and 2001. She joined the European Commission in 2001 and has dealt with competition policy, copyright and audiovisual legislation.
Between 2014 and 2015, she was the assistant to the Director General of DG EAC. She is currently the deputy head of the sport unit. She is the author of three academic books on European Law and media.
Since 1994, Alex Patak has been at the Joint Research Centre in Ispra (Italy), where he has been working on three-dimensional medical imaging. From 2003 to 2017, he was responsible for the Bioinformatics team at the Molecular Biology and Genomics Unit of the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection in Ispra.
He is now a team leader at Knowledge for Health & Consumer Safety and is responsible for the Collaborative Doctoral Partnership programme in Genomics and Bioinformatics, working on the application of artificial intelligence to omics data and Microbiome.
Mr Patak graduated in Medicine and Surgery from the School of Medicine at “Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona”, Barcelona (Spain) and holds a Master in Medical Bioengineering from the “Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña”.
At the Instituto Municipal de Investigación Médica (Barcelona), he worked on Expert Systems for medical diagnostic and did his PhD on computer-assisted medical education after a traineeship at Dartmouth Medical College in Vermont (USA).
Jan-Willem Van de Loo
PhD Jan-Willem van de Loo, Cancer Theme Lead since 2019, has been a Policy and Scientific Officer at the European Commission in charge of cancer research since 2003. From Sep 2019 - Jul 2021, he led a team co-creating the Horizon Europe Mission on Cancer. Other policy initiatives include contributions to the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, public-public and public private R&I partnerships.
He has extensive experience with collaborative project management, international cancer research and innovation policy activities and stakeholder interactions.
He graduated in Biology at the University of Utrecht in 1991, following a year at the UW-Madison Medical School Graduate Program. He worked as a junior scientist on blood coagulation at Sanquin, Amsterdam and obtained his PhD in cell biology at the Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Leuven in 1999. He held three postdoctoral positions in cancer research, including a Marie-Curie postdoctoral fellowship at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan.
Dr João Breda is Special Adviser of WHO/Europe Regional Director for the establishment of Sub-Regional Offices and is based in Greece.
Until recently, he headed the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases (NCD Office), which provided support to 53 Member States in the WHO European Region. In 2019, the team he was leading was given an Award of Excellence announced by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
Prior to that, Dr João Breda was Programme Manager for Nutrition, Physical activity and Obesity at the WHO Regional Office for Europe, a role he held for 11 years. Before joining WHO, Dr Breda was the WHO/Europe focal point in Portugal for alcohol, nutrition and physical activity, and was a representative on the High-Level Group on Nutrition & Physical Activity and the European Platform on Diet, Nutrition and Physical Activity of the European Union.
Dr João Breda has a PhD in Food Consumption & Nutritional Sciences from Porto University, a Master of Business Administration, a Master’s in public health and a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Sciences. He has received many scientific and academic awards, published more than 250 original reports, and more than 20 books.
Nikolai Pushkarev is Senior Policy Manager for healthy environments and Policy Coordinator at the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), a leading civil society network working to improve health and strengthen the voice of public health in Europe. As senior policy manager, Nikolai leads EPHA’s activities on food systems and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) prevention, promoting policies to tackle the common risk factors for NCDs, and on advancing a transition towards sustainable food systems with health-enabling food environments. As policy coordinator, he contributes to the strategic alignment of EPHA’s policy activities for enhanced impact.
Previous work experiences were in the areas of human rights, environment, energy, and in the cultural and private sectors. He earned an MA in European Law from Maastricht University and a postgraduate degree in agricultural economics through the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
Dr Wendy Yared is the Director of the Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL), a pan-European alliance of national and regional cancer leagues. ECL was created in 1980, and its members provide services to over 489 million European citizens for a vision of a Europe Free of Cancer.
Dr Yared has over 25 years’ experience in international public health and policy, most of which is in Europe. Her other notable professional roles have been with the World Health Organization, the European Parliament, Johns Hopkins University, the United States Public Health Service, and with the US government in sub-Saharan Africa. Her academic training is as a Doctor of Public Health in International Health Systems from Johns Hopkins, a Master of Public Health in Health Policy from UC Berkeley, and an undergraduate diploma in psychology, also from the University of California.
Jury – Award on Mental Health
Despo Sergiou is a Policy Officer, SNE-Youth Policy and Programmes in Unit B3: Youth, Volunteer, Solidarity and Traineeship Office, at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture.
Prior to that, she was the Counsellor of Education, Youth, Culture and Sport at the Permanent Representation of Cyprus to the EU (2016-2021), where she was involved in various EU priorities and actively followed the discussions in various Council preparatory bodies on the effects of the Covid-19 crisis in the areas of Education, Youth, Culture and Sport.
Between 2000 and 2016, she was a primary school teacher, while for several years she actively participated in various committees and non-governmental organisations, including the Cyprus Centre for supporting people addicted to drugs and other substances.
Ms Sergiou has a Master’s degree in Education: Pedagogical Sciences, Intercultural Education and Psychology and a Bachelor’s degree in Education.
Nicoline Tamsma is a Policy Officer at the European Commission’s DG for Health and Food Safety, Unit Health Promotion, Disease Prevention, Financial Instruments, where mental health is part of her policy portfolio.
A social scientist by training, she has been working in the field of European health policy and international affairs in various capacities over the past 25 years. She was an advisor for International Affairs at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment the Netherlands and at the Netherlands Institute for Care and Welfare. Other previous posts include work on European policy and health systems research at the Nuffield Institute for Health in Leeds (UK). She also co-ordinated cross-national efforts on integrated local HIV/AIDS policies for WHO Europe.
Her involvement in the European health community includes (past) roles as President of EuroHealthNet, a member of the European Health Forum Gastein Advisory Committee, and a board member of the European Health Management Association.
Hana Velecká started her work in the European Commission in 2005 and worked on the European Social Fund for the Czech Republic. She has been working on the disability issues since 2014. During her career, she dealt with antidiscrimination, social protection, independent living, employment, gender issues, mental health, health, transport and the European Semester. She gained experience with independent living, health and mental health care reforms by working on the EU funding and policy making and monitoring. She follows the implementation of the new Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030.
Apart from policies, her primary responsibility is for the EU Disability Card initiative. She also acts as a secretary of the Disability Platform, which is an expert group composed of representatives of the Commission, Member States, and EU-level civil society organisations.
She graduated in history at the Faculty of Arts of the Charles University in Prague and afterwards studied international politics at CERIS in Brussels. She also worked on EU affairs and social inclusion at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in Prague.
Alexander Grabenhofer-Eggerth is head of the Department of Psychosocial Health at the Austrian National Public Health Institute (GÖG) and member of the Advisory Board for Mental Health of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health. He is also head of the coordination centre of the national suicide prevention programme SUPRA.
Mr Grabenhofer-Eggerth graduated with a Master's degree in psychology in Vienna in 1998. After three years as a staff member in outpatient aftercare for psychiatric patients, he worked as a researcher and counsellor in the addiction service of the City of Vienna. In 2008, he moved to the Austrian National Public Health Institute as a project manager in the field of addiction, health services research and strategy development. In 2017, he became head of the newly founded Department of Psychosocial Health, and has continued to serve as the head of that department since then.
Dr Ledia Lazëri has been the Regional Adviser for Mental Health at the WHO Regional Office for Europe since May 2021. A native of Albania, she trained and worked as a psychiatrist in her home country, contributing to the education of medical students and later to the national reform of mental health policy and services. Having joined WHO in 2000, Dr Lazëri expanded her scope of work beyond the Balkans region through her work in the Mental Health Project of the Stability Pact in South Eastern Europe and later in Turkey, where she led a large EU-funded WHO project on Improving Services for People with Disabilities.
She took up duties as Regional Adviser in May 2021, after serving as the WHO Representative to various European countries, where she led the WHO technical cooperation. In her function as Regional Adviser, Dr Lazëri leads a team that brings together expertise in various areas: policy and services, rights and advocacy, communication and promotion in mental health, tasked, among others, with implementing the WHO European Framework for Action in Mental Health 2021-2025 and with supporting the pan-European Mental Health Coalition.
Since 2009, Solvejg Wallyn has been a policy officer in the Flanders Agency for Care and Health in Belgium, where she is dealing with all international and bilateral matters in health that are in the remit of the regional competences. These competences have been enlarged to include primary care, mental health care, elderly care and some aspects of specialised care.
Ms Wallyn has a degree in law from Brussels University. She has worked in Sciensano and helped to transpose the two Genetically modified Organisms and Micro-organisms EU Directives into Belgian legislation. She was administrator of the European Programme on Intervention Epidemiology and the EU Rapid Response to Health Crises. She set up the Committee on Ethical issues in Sciensano and worked in the European Commission, Health Threats Unit, DG for Health and was scientific officer in the Executive Agency.