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Richtzenhain Doctoral Prize Awardees 2021

Sara Ahmed

During her PhD research, that was carried out in the DKFZ Division of Signal Transduction in Cancer and Metabolism, Sara studied how sex hormone signaling affects the regenerative capacity of intestinal stem cells under physiological conditions, and during aging and in disease. She showed that the stem cells of non-sex organs such as the gut can be under sex-hormone control. This has implications for development of treatments that influence stem cell proliferation behavior during disease, which if uncontrolled, can lead to cancer.

Sara is now working as a Transformational Coach.

Mirco Friedrich

In his MD thesis as part of the MD/PhD program of Heidelberg University, Mirco was working in the DKFZ Clinical Cooperation Unit Neuroimmunology and Brain Tumor Immunology, where he studied how immune cells that have been "paralyzed" through certain mutations in the tumor cells, can be reactivated, to fight the brain tumors. These results confirm that therapeutic vaccines or immunotherapies are more effective against brain tumors if the suppressed immune system is simultenously re-activated.

Mirco is now working as a resident physician at Heidelberg University Hospital and pursuing his PhD at DKFZ.

 

 

Fabian Isensee

Manual adaptation of state-of-the-art segmentation pipelines to individual dataset is a complicated process that so far needed to be performed by machine learning experts. During his PhD, which was carried out in the DKFZ Division of Medical Image Computing, Fabian Isensee developed nnU-Net, a method that automates this process and makes these algorithms, and thus their benefits, widely accessible.

Fabian is now head of the HIP Applied Computer Vision Lab at DKFZ.

Jessica Matthias

Jessica's research in the divisions of Optical Nanoscopy at the DKFZ and the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, highlights the potential of implementing an integrated multidisciplinary workflow for fluorescence nanoscopy imaging studies in basic and preclinical cancer research and for the first time, introduce Stimulated Emission Depletion (STED) imaging as a powerful tool to biomedical applications such as clinical diagnostics, which to date are unexplored by STED nanoscopy.

Jessica is now working as a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research (MPIMR).

 

 

Pooja Middha

The topic of Pooja's doctoral thesis, carried out in the DKFZ Division of Cancer Epidemiology, was a comprehensive assessment of gene-environment interactions, which could provide an insight into the biological pathways underlying breast carcinogenesis, discover novel genes through interactions, and also inform prediction models for identification of high-risk individuals.

Pooja is now working as a postdoc at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

Trasias Mukama

Trasias' thesis research within the DKFZ Division of Preventive Oncology provided new insights that can be applied to enable risk-adapted screening for breast cancer: Looking at factors related to genetic background and reproductive histrory, his thesis identified how many years earlier or later that women at higher risk of developing breast cancer should start screening, compared to the general population.

Trasias is now contuing his thesis research as a postdoc at DKFZ.

 

 

Ahmed Sadik

In his PhD thesis work, carried out in the DKFZ Division of Brain Cancer Metabolism, Ahmed developed a method that allows the detection of the activity of the master immune regulator AHR. This led to the discovery of the enzyme IL4I1 which leads to AHR activity, and reveals a new mechanism that cancers use to resist immunotherapy.

Ahmed is now working as a postdoc (bioinformatics) and as an IP Licensing Manager at DKFZ.

Mahak Singhal

Mahak completed his PhD thesis research in the DKFZ Division of Vascular Oncology and Metastasis. By performing genome-wide analysis of blood vessels of a metastatic tumor, Mahak identified LRG1 as a novel therapeutic target for restricting metastatic tumor growth.

Mahak is currently heading a junior research group at the European Center for Angioscience of Heidelberg University.

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