Tools, Technologies and Training for Healthcare Laboratories

Erna Lenters-Westra: 2018 Westgard Award Winner

At the Quality in the Spotlight Meeting in Antwerp, Erna Lenters-Westra was the receipient of the 2018 Westgard Award. Her impressive accomplishments in the field of HbA1c evaluation and assessment make this award well-deserved.

 Winner of the 2018 Westgard Award: Erna Lenters-Westra

James O. Westgard, PhD
April 2018

It is with great satisfaction that I presented Dr. Erna Lenters-Westra with the 2018 Westgard Award in Antwerp, at the Quality in the Spotlight Meeting. Many years ago, I was pleased to be one of her doctoral advisors. I saw her receive her Ph.D. I also watched her make great advances in the evaluation and assessment of HbA1c quality. She has shown leadership, humility, dedication, and a scrupulous commitment to quality. I know of no one who is as selfless when it comes to evaluating methods for quality.

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Here, the award is in Erna's left hand, flowers in her right hand, and a picture of her Ph.D. ceremony on the screen behind her.

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Erna, giving her award lecture. Starting out with the paper that brought the spotlight to her work. This seminal paper pointed out the gap between our assumptions of instrument quality and the actual performance being observed. A majority of HbA1c POC devices she assessed were quite poor. Many of them were so poor that this paper effectively and significantly diminished their commercial success. It was a warning shot to the industry that poor quality assays would no longer get a free pass.

Since that time, many manufacturers have approached her for evaluation and assessment of their new methods. She takes no honorariums for this work, but donates all to her institute. She has each manufacturer agree to a contract that spells out her assessment procedures and their (lack of) influence on the results she writes up. But she does present them with a choice at the end of the assessment, whether the assay looks good or bad - either she gets to publish the results, or they go back and improve their method. She is eager to help manufacturers improve, but if they fail to meet her standards (and those of the IFCC standardization committee), she is unyielding.

In this way, Erna is truly changing the industry for the better. If HbA1c is one of the shining success stories of our profession, Erna is one of the stars of that success.

Here's a short list of the many significant papers she has published in a very short period of time:

Congratulations again to Erna Lenters-Westra, and to the Quality in the Spotlight Meeting for allowing us to honor her.