Cookie Settings

We use cookies to optimize our website. These include cookies that are necessary for the operation of the site, as well as those that are only used for anonymous statistic. You can decide for yourself which categories you want to allow. Further information can be found in our data privacy protection .


These cookies are necessary to run the core functionalities of this website and cannot be disabled.

Name Webedition CMS
Purpose This cookie is required by the CMS (Content Management System) Webedition for the system to function correctly. Typically, this cookie is deleted when the browser is closed.
Name econda
Purpose Session cookie emos_jcsid for the web analysis software econda. This runs in the “anonymized measurement” mode. There is no personal reference. As soon as the user leaves the site, tracking is ended and all data in the browser are automatically deleted.

These cookies help us understand how visitors interact with our website by collecting and analyzing information anonymously. Depending on the tool, one or more cookies are set by the provider.

Name econda
Purpose Statistics
External media

Content from external media platforms is blocked by default. If cookies from external media are accepted, access to this content no longer requires manual consent.

Name YouTube
Purpose Show YouTube content
Name Twitter
Purpose activate Twitter Feeds

German Cancer Award for Stefan Pfister

No. 19 | 21/03/2013 | by Koh

Professor Dr. Stefan Pfister, a molecular biologist and pediatrician, studies the molecular characteristics of brain cancer in children. He discovered changes in the tumor genomes which are already being used in clinical practice as biomarkers for disease progression and treatment response. A number of these mutations also provide approaches for developing new drugs to inhibit specific cancer-promoting processes. Stefan Pfister, who undertakes research at the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) and treats children at Heidelberg University Hospital, is distinguished for these achievements with the translational part of the German Cancer Award.


Cancer in children can take very different courses of severity. Since its treatment often entails late adverse effects, it is important to be able to assess the further course of the disease as accurately as possible. This applies especially to brain cancer, because surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy may cause lasting damage to the young patients’ brains and lead to developmental disorders and other long-term damage.

Brain tumors have taken the place of the more common blood cancers when it comes to cancer mortality in children. The biology of pediatric brain tumors is extremely variable. There are multiple types of brain tumors, which differ not only among each other but also within one and the same type. Customized treatment approaches targeting tumor-specific cellular changes might substantially improve treatment of these cancers.

Stefan Pfister leads the Division of Pediatric Neurooncology at DKFZ and works as a pediatrician at the University Medical Center for Children and Adolescents of Heidelberg University. Pfister and his team are analyzing the genomes of the three most common pediatric brain tumors: low-grade astrocytoma, medulloblastoma and ependymoma. The research is part of the International Cancer Genome Consortium and is funded by Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe).

In the past few years, Stefan Pfister and his team have discovered a number of biomarkers for disease progression and treatment response. Some of these are already being applied in the clinic. In addition, they also identified genetic changes that are potential targets for therapy. In more than half of all low-grade astrocytomas, the researchers found a defect in the cancer-promoting BRAF gene. This discovery opens up new treatment options for affected children, because there are already approved substances available inhibiting the mutated BRAF gene.

Medulloblastoma is the most common pediatric brain tumor and is newly diagnosed in more than a hundred patients in Germany every year. Based on a number of characteristic genetic alterations, Pfister and his colleagues were able to classify these cancers into five distinct risk groups. When treating children in the group with the best prognosis, clinicians can now venture to reduce treatment intensity to prevent possible late effects of the treatment. The genetic test can be performed in routine diagnostics and identifies high-risk patients, who would not be identified using conventional tests. These children can receive more intensive treatment from the beginning of therapy to increase their chances of cure.

With the translational part of the German Cancer Award (Deutscher Krebspreis), now in its tenth year, the German Cancer Society (Deutsche Krebsgesellschaft, DKG) distinguishes research which translates experimental approaches into clinical research. Along with Professor Dr. Stefan Pfister, the second award-winner in the category “Translational Research” was Professor Dr. Roman Thomas from the Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research in Cologne. The experimental part of the German Cancer Award went to Professor Dr. Lars Zender from Tübingen University Hospital and the clinical award went to Professor Dr. Volker Heinemann of Munich University Hospital and to Dr. Alexander Katalinic from Lübeck University. The awards were presented on March 21 during the International AEK Cancer Congress at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg.

A picture of Stefan Pfister is available at the internet:

With more than 3,000 employees, the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) is Germany’s largest biomedical research institute. DKFZ scientists identify cancer risk factors, investigate how cancer progresses and develop new cancer prevention strategies. They are also developing new methods to diagnose tumors more precisely and treat cancer patients more successfully. The DKFZ's Cancer Information Service (KID) provides patients, interested citizens and experts with individual answers to questions relating to cancer.

To transfer promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improve the prognosis of cancer patients, the DKFZ cooperates with excellent research institutions and university hospitals throughout Germany:

  • National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT, 6 sites)
  • German Cancer Consortium (DKTK, 8 sites)
  • Hopp Children's Cancer Center (KiTZ) Heidelberg
  • Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON Mainz) - A Helmholtz Institute of the DKFZ
  • DKFZ-Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim
  • National Cancer Prevention Center (jointly with German Cancer Aid)
The DKFZ is 90 percent financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.


Subscribe to our RSS-Feed.

to top
powered by webEdition CMS