This year at the Dutch “Longdagen”, Dr. Diana van der Plaat won the NRS Swierenga Thesis Award 2019 for the best thesis in respiratory science in the Netherlands, which was accompanied by a price of € 4500,-. The Swieringa thesis award has the aim to draw attention towards high quality scientific research that contributes to the understanding or the treatment of lung diseases in the broadest sense. Diana van der Plaat did her research at the department of epidemiology at the UMCG under the supervision of Prof. Boezen and Prof. Postma, and obtained her PhD in October 2017. The studies described in her thesis have shown that genes, DNA-methylation and environmental exposures play a role in COPD in never-smokers. She identified several genes for the development of large or small airway obstruction in specifically never-smokers, and showed that air pollution as well as occupational exposures were associated with DNA-methylation levels. Together, the information provided may ultimately lead to new therapies for treatment or prevention of COPD, and show the importance of non-smoking related causes of COPD.