DKFZ/Heidelberg University Hospital: Kristian Pajtler received $100,000 award for brain cancer research
Kristian Pajtler, a pediatric oncologist from the “Hopp Children’s Cancer Center at the NCT Heidelberg” (KiTZ), received the 2018 CERN Scientific Fellowship Award with a monetary prize of 100,000 US dollars. Pajtler has been awarded the distinction for his work on ependymoma, a rare type of brain cancer.
The “Hopp Children’s Cancer Center at the NCT Heidelberg” (KiTZ) is a joint initiative of Heidelberg University Hospital and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ).
“I am very happy about the award. It will enable me to continue my work in this special area of brain cancer research,” said Pajtler after the award ceremony. As a pediatric oncologist working in Heidelberg, Pajtler has devoted himself to ependymoma in the past five years. At the Pediatric Neurooncology Division (Prof. Stefan Pfister) of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), he leads a research group that is working on enhancing diagnosis methods for this cancer type. One of their approaches is to search for regulatory enhancing elements in the tumor genome (called enhancers or super enhancers) with the goal of identifying new targets that may be used for therapy. The researchers recently published results from this research in Nature (Mack et al. 2017).
In his work as a pediatric oncologist at the Department of Pediatric Oncology, Hematology, Immunology and Pulmonology of Heidelberg University Hospital (UKHD), Pajtler has also been focusing on ependymoma. These tumors present a particular clinical challenge in small children, who often suffer from very aggressive tumors with a high risk of relapsing. “Jointly with large international centers, we are therefore currently investigating whether these tumors can be classified in further molecular subgroups,” Pajtler explained. “In this way, we are hoping to speed up the process of finding suitable approaches for more effective therapies in order to provide better treatment for children with ependymoma in the future.”
Pajtler, born in 1980 in Wesel, works as a medical specialist at Heidelberg University Hospital and also as a scientist at the DKFZ. He studied Medicine at the University of Essen-Duisburg. For his doctoral thesis, he pursued research on neuroblastoma, which is another type of malignant childhood nervous system tumor.
Pajtler received the CERN Award from the hands of Kimberly Wallgren, president of the CERN (Collaborative Ependymoma Research Network) Foundation, at the 2017 Meeting of the Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) in San Francisco, U.S.A. The CERN Foundation is a nonprofit organization which was established in 2006 with the goal of finding better ways to help patients with ependymoma.
Mack et al. Therapeutic Targeting of Ependymoma as Informed by Oncogenic Enhancer Profiling. In: NATURE, Online publication 20th December 2017; DOI: 10.1038/nature25169
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