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Conferring of the Roche Discovery Oncology Award

Roche has awarded four Early Stage Researchers the Roche Discovery Oncology Award at its Innovation Center in Penzberg near Munich. 

This year, the invitation was focused on the role of the extracellular matrix in the development of cancer. “The presentations of the young researchers were outstandingly prepared. Above all, the marked interdisciplinary combination of applied cancer research with technology and preclinical translational models was impressive,” said Christian Rommel, Global Head of Oncology Discovery, Roche Pharma Research & Early Development (pRED). He went on to say “Here, a vigorous generation of young scientists is blossoming!”

Maria Antsiferova of the ETH Zurich was awarded the first prize for her study of the growth factor, activin. Activin promotes healing where the skin is damaged. It can also facilitate the formation of skin tumours, however, by reprogramming various immune cells so that these are no longer optimally able to attack a tumour. Hence, the inhibition of activin may be a promising strategy for the prevention and treatment of skin cancer.

The second prize was awarded to Arseniy Yuzhalin for his work in Professor Ruth Muschel's group in the CRUK/MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology, Department of Oncology at the University of Oxford. He has developed a new technology for the investigation of the extracellular matrix. Using his research approach, the entirety of all extracellular matrix proteins, in which the tumour cells are embedded, can be studied. By this means, new target structures for the development of oncological agents could be found. Arseniy commented “this Roche Oncology Award provides an excellent opportunity for young researchers, especially graduate students, to present their work to a wide audience. My work was highly appreciated by an international panel of juries, and I was awarded a prize in a very competitive environment. I believe this award is immensely valuable for my early career development and it also motivates me to carry on the fascinating research we do here at the Oxford Centre”

In order to do justice to the high standard of the papers presented, the jury awarded the third prize to two candidates. Verena Leidgens from the University of Regensburg impressed the jury with her translational research paper on the development of glioblastoma, an extremely aggressive cerebral tumour. She identified a particular tumour cell type, which migrates into the brain and, here, initiates tumour formation.

Albin Jeanne, University of Reims, developed a new approach enabling the inhibition of the development of blood vessels in tumours in the extracellular matrix. The jury acknowledged that he had discovered a new biological point of application in an essentially well-researched field of research such as anti-angiogenesis.

Image: Winners of the 3rd pRED Discovery Oncology Award 2015: Verena Leidgens, Albin Jeanne, Arseniy Yuzhalin and Maria Antsifevora with award presentor Christian Rommel (Roche pRED, Global Head of Oncology Discovery). Copyright Roche /Schebesta

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