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DKTK Young Academics Conference 2018 – Clinician scientists meet in Munich

Clinically-oriented cancer research is in urgent need of young researchers. Clinician and medical scientists are proficient in the scientific approaches used in basic research and familiar with clinical requirements. With this background they can bridge the gap between laboratory and clinic. At this year’s Young Academics Conference organized by the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK), young scientists and physicians who are following this career path came together to discuss their projects and to receive further training on methods and trends in the field of clinically oriented cancer research.

City tour for young DKTK cancer researchers at the Young Academic Conference in Munich © Katja Engelmann/DKTK

On 11 April, Stephanie Combs, Director of the Department of Radiation Oncology, welcomed the School of Oncology Fellows to the fifth Young Academics Conference (YAC) at TranslaTUM, the Center for Translational Cancer Research at Klinikum rechts der Isar, the university hospital of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the DKTK’s partner site. In her introductory presentation on the DKTK’s research profile in Munich, Combs said that clinician scientists need targeted support to enable them to combine research and patient care over the long term, and referred to the great success of the site’s program of research days for clinician scientists.


The three-day event included project presentations by the Fellows, and highlight talks with guest speakers from science and industry. Gerd Maas’s presentation also met with a great deal of interest. Maas is Head of Roche Foundation Medicine Region Europe at Roche Pharma AG and spoke about the pitfalls of running clinical trials in precision oncology. Case numbers here are usually so small, he emphasized, that clinical trials cannot be carried out at all in an academic environment any more, except in consortiums like the DKTK.

The second day was devoted to personalized oncology, with talks from the DKTK MASTER workflow. Under the motto “From biospecimen to clinical application”, DKTK MASTER coordinator Stefan Fröhling, acting Managing Director of the National Center for Tumor Diseases Heidelberg, and other DKTK scientists presented the NCT/DKTK MASTER concept: from taking and processing samples, genome sequencing and data analysis, to potential treatment recommendations through the DKTK’s interdisciplinary Molecular Tumor Board.

Alongside the 24 scientific presentations, there were networking opportunities and a chance to get to know Fellows from other DKTK sites in the evenings at a local brewery and on a quiz trail through Munich city center. “This annual event is a multi-site exchange and further training forum for the School of Oncology Fellows,” says Sigrid Ziegler, Coordinator of the School of Oncology. “We encourage all young scientists within the DKTK to seize this opportunity with its changing program of current topics to support their career development.”