Awards for Cancer Research with High Application Potential
The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) awards two prizes to excellent researchers whose work has a high potential of improving cancer treatment: The Richtzenhain Prize goes to Stephan Herzig (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum); Florian Greten of the University Hospitals of Munich Technical University will be awarded the Dr. Emil Salzer Prize.
Obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes have been proven to be risk factors for a number of cancers. Reversely, metabolic disorders not only promote risk factors for cancer, but they also occur as a result of it. Thus, tumor growth often goes along with extreme loss of weight, a condition called tumor cachexia. These two contrary states ¨C obesity and wasting ¨C are characterized by a multitude of common metabolic properties. This suggests that there are common molecular control points for both processes.
Dr. Stephan Herzig, winner of this year¡¯s Richtzenhain Prize, has focused his research on this particular area. In the process, he identified numerous factors that play a key role in the control of liver metabolism. Thus, they play a direct part in the development of cancer risk factors and cancer-associated effects (cachexia). These metabolic control points can now be studied as targets for new treatment methods.
Biologist Stephan Herzig has headed the Emmy Noether Junior Research Group ¡°Molecular Metabolic Control¡±, which was turned into a department last July, at DKFZ since 2003. For his scientific work Herzig has been distinguished with numerous awards including the Marie Curie Excellence Award of the European Commission, the Ferdinand Bertram Prize of the German Diabetes Society and the Research Award of the German Obesity Society.
The 2010 Emil Salzer Prize will be awarded to Professor Dr. Florian Greten, who is a research group leader at Klinikum rechts der Isar of Munich Technical University. He investigates the connection between inflammatory bowel diseases (colitis) and colon cancer.
Florian Greten discovered that colon cancer growth is promoted both directly and indirectly by an important gene regulator: A protein called NF©\¦ÊB suppresses the death of malignant cells and, at the same time, stimulates specific white blood cells to produce signaling molecules which accelerate tumor cell growth. Thus, Greten was able to show that inflammation-promoting modulators produced by immune cells boost cancer development.
The Salzer Prize jury particularly commended the high potential of this work for improving colon cancer treatment, because Greten also identified the target molecule of the inflammation-promoting modulators in cancer cells. If this molecule is turned off in mice, tumor growth comes to a halt. Thus, Florian Greten has presented a novel target for the treatment of colon cancer.
The Richtzenhain Prize, which DKFZ awards on behalf of a foundation established by neurologist Walther Richtzenhain and his wife Christine, is awarded annually, alternately to doctoral students at Heidelberg research institutes and to scientists from across Germany for publications in the area of translational cancer research. This year¡¯s prize is worth 10,000 euros.
The Dr. Emil Salzer Prize has been awarded by DKFZ on behalf of Baden-Wuerttemberg¡¯s Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts since 1970. It was founded by Emil Salzer, a physician from Reutlingen, Germany. Salzer left his bequest to the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg under the condition that the proceeds be used for supporting cancer research. The prize money is 5,000 euros.
The award ceremony will take place on Thursday, December 2, at 5 p.m. at DKFZ¡¯s Communication Center (KOZ). Guests are very welcome to attend.
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The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with its more than 2,500 employees is the largest biomedical research institute in Germany. At DKFZ, more than 1,000 scientists investigate how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors and endeavor to find new strategies to prevent people from getting cancer. They develop novel approaches to make tumor diagnosis more precise and treatment of cancer patients more successful. The staff of the Cancer Information Service (KID) offers information about the widespread disease of cancer for patients, their families, and the general public. Jointly with Heidelberg University Hospital, DKFZ has established the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg, where promising approaches from cancer research are translated into the clinic. In the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK), one of six German Centers for Health Research, DKFZ maintains translational centers at seven university partnering sites. Combining excellent university hospitals with high-profile research at a Helmholtz Center is an important contribution to improving the chances of cancer patients. DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centers, with ninety percent of its funding coming from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the remaining ten percent from the State of Baden-Württemberg.