Press and Public Relations

Molecular Biologist Bruce Edgar and Stem Cell Researcher Andreas Trumpp Acknowledged for Achievements in Life Sciences

No. 54a | 25/10/2011

Heidelberg researchers elected to become members of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO)

Prof. Bruce Edgar
© dkfz.de

Molecular biologist Prof. Dr. Bruce Edgar and cancer and stem cell researcher Prof. Dr. Andreas Trumpp have been elected to EMBO membership in recognition of their outstanding scientific contribution. EMBO’s approximately 1,500 members are leaders in their research fields around the world.

Bruce Edgar leads a department within the alliance of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Center for Molecular Biology (ZMBH) of Heidelberg University. With his team, he focuses primarily on the mechanisms of cell division. In their studies of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, the scientists have discovered a number of genes and signaling pathways which regulate growth and multiplication of cells in the living organism in various organs and tissues. Last year, Edgar was awarded a five-year European Research Council Advanced Grant of 2.68 million euros for his research work. Bruce Edgar studied biology at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, and earned a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Washington in Seattle. He subsequently worked at the University of California in San Francisco, U.S.A., and at the University of Oxford, U.K. From 1993 to 2009, he served in various capabilities at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and as a Professor at the University of Washington, interrupted in 2000/2001 by a stay at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany. In 2009, Heidelberg University and DKFZ jointly succeeded within the DKFZ-ZMBH Alliance in recruiting the U.S.A.-born scientist from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle to Heidelberg.

Prof. Andreas Trumpp
© dkfz.de

Andreas Trumpp is head of the Division of Stem Cells and Cancer at DKFZ, which is also part of the DKFZ-ZMBH Alliance, and is an internationally renowned expert for cancer stem cells. These cells are suspected to be involved in carcinogenesis, tumor growth and metastasis. They are often resistant to conventional therapies such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy and, therefore, are also suspected to be responsible for the recurrence of tumors after seemingly successful treatment. Trumpp and his group were able to show that dormant stem cells can be woken up by treatment with interferon-alpha and thus be made susceptible to subsequent chemotherapy. In the blood of breast cancer patients, Trumpp and his co-workers have also detected metastasis-forming tumor stem cells. By characterizing these in detail, they intend to develop targeted drugs that prevent metastasis or efficiently fight existing metastatic tumors. Trumpp is also director of HI-STEM, a non-profit institute founded jointly by DKFZ and the Dietmar Hopp Foundation as part of the Top Cluster competition. Trumpp, who was born in Heilbronn, Germany, completed his Ph.D. thesis at EMBL in Heidelberg, before he went on to work at the University of California in San Francisco and the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research in Lausanne. In 2008, he joined DKFZ.

The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), founded in 1964, advances basic research in molecular biology in Europe. New members are proposed and elected by other members in recognition of outstanding scientific achievements. EMBO Members include 57 Nobel Prize laureates, including Bruce A. Beutler and Jules A. Hoffmann, winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine, and Harald zur Hausen, Medicine Nobel Prize winner of
2008. This year, 46 life scientists from 14 countries have been recognized by being elected to EMBO membership.

The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with its more than 3,000 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.

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