April 30, 2013

Young FMI scientists honored

At the annual meeting of the Basel Stem Cell Network last Friday, Vijay Tiwari, a former postdoc in Dirk Schübeler’s group, has received the Bruno Speck Award 2013. The award honors his contribution to a better understanding of the role of chromatin modifications during stem cell differentiation. Earlier this year, Adrian Britschgi, postdoctoral fellow in Mohamed Bentires-Alj’s group, received the Charles Rudolphe Brupbacher Prize for his work on the resistance mechanisms in metastatic breast cancer.

During his postdoctoral studies in Dirk Schübeler’s laboratory at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Vijay Tiwari was interested in the regulation of chromatin modificatiosn during stem cell development. In collaboration with Michael Stadler from the FMI, and Christian Beisel and Renato Paro from the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering of the ETH Zürich, he found how the signaling molecule JNK directly modifies histones to alter gene expression. That intracellular signaling molecules directly interfere with chromatin is a very novel concept and as JNK acts in a signaling pathway that is impaired in every third form of cancer, the results open up a new pathway for kinase regulated gene expression and potential therapeutic intervention. For the resulting publication in Nature Genetics, he now received the Bruno Speck Award 2013, which honors outstanding research in hematology and stem cell biology by young scientists in Basel. Currently, Tiwari is a group leader at the Institute of Molecular Biology, IMB, in Mainz.

Adrian Britschgi received the Charles Rudolphe Brupbacher Prize for his work on the resistance mechanisms in the highly metastatic, triple-negative subtype of breast cancer. In his Cancer Cell publication, he showed how resistance mechanisms arise during the treatment and suggested strategies to circumvent these by a combination therapy approach. This is particularly important for triple-negative breast cancers, which affect younger women, are harder to treat and once treated become therapy resistant faster. For a future therapy of this breast cancer subtype, Adrian Britschgi’s findings could have an impact on two levels. First, he identified a potentially excellent marker, IL-8, to determine if the therapy has triggered resistance mechanisms. Second, in these cases, the study provides a rationale for co-targeting two pathways using a combination therapy consisting of PI3K/mTOR and JAK2/STAT5 inhibitors.

Every other year, the Charles Rodolphe Brupbacher Foundation bestows the Young Investigator Award to young scientists who contributed to the scientific symposium that the foundation organizes.

» More about Vijay Tiwari’s prize-winning publication
» More about the Bruno Speck Award

» More about Adrian Britschgi’s research
» More about the Charles Rodolphe Brupbacher Young Investigator Award

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