CERN Foundation Awards 2018 Scientific Fellows

— Categories: Press Release     Posted on February 12, 2018

At the 2017 CERN Foundation Annual Meeting, held during the Society for Neuro-Oncology’s Annual Meeting in November, the CERN Foundation announced two distinguished scientific fellowship awards. Both fellowships provide a competitive award for ependymoma research.

Kristian Pajtler, MD, pediatric neuro-oncology clinical fellow at the University Hospital Heidelberg in Germany, is the recipient of the 2018 CERN Foundation Scientific Ependymoma Fellowship.

Claire King, PhD, research associate at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute at the University of Cambridge, is the recipient of the 2018 Robert Connor Dawes Scientific Fellowship.

CERN Foundation Scientific Ependymoma Fellowship

As the recipient of the CERN fellowship, Dr. Pajtler plans to investigate improving diagnostic accuracy in pediatric and adolescent ependymoma by analyzing both retrospective sample collections and prospective clinical molecular data on ependymomas. 

His aim is to reduce debilitating treatment side effects in patients with less aggressive ependymoma subtypes and develop personalized treatments to increase the chance of survival for patients with the most aggressive subtypes.

Dr. Pajtler further aims to expand the availability of molecular diagnostics to as many ependymoma patients as possible by providing open access to a molecular classification tool for all neuro-oncologists involved in treatment of these patients.

Under the fellowship, Dr. Pajtler is also proposing subprojects to analyze regulatory and driving mechanisms in specific molecular groups, establish tumor model systems for distinct molecular groups for future preclinical drug testing, and explore economic, outcome and psychosocial aspects associated with molecular diagnostics in ependymoma patients.

Dr. Pajtler’s research is under the leadership of pediatric neuro-oncologist Stefan Pfister, MD

The Robert Connor Dawes Scientific Fellowship

As the recipient of the Robert Connor Dawes fellowship, Dr. King plans to investigate the genetic fusion that drives an ependymoma subtype known as supratentorial, or forebrain ependymoma. The fusion is between two genes, RELA and C11orf95.

Her research aims to determine the role of C11orf95 in normal development and in the initiation and progression of ependymoma.

Supratentorial ependymoma is the most aggressive subtype of ependymoma. Less than 50% of patients survive more than 10 years.

Dr. King's research is under the leadership of neuro-oncologist Richard Gilbertson, MD

"Ependymoma remains a challenging brain tumor to treat in children and adults. This incredibly valuable support will enable us to decipher how the C11orf95-RELA fusion that we discovered drives such aggressive forms of this disease,” says Dr. Gilbertson.

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