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Scientific DKTK Retreat 2020

This year, events must be planned differently due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This also counted for the Scientific DKTK Retreat on October 5, 2020, which took place in a live virtual format. Nevertheless, more than 350 DKTK scientists from all partner sites followed the presentations throughout the day. The members of the DKTK Steering Committee chaired the retreat sessions in a broadcasting studio at DKFZ in Heidelberg and made sure that questions from the audience placed in a chat are being addressed by the speakers.

After the welcome by Michael Baumann, speaker of the DKTK, six recently completed scientific projects supported by the DKTK Joint Funding program were presented in Session 1:

  1. Peter Lang: IVacALL
  2. Angelika Eggert: Targeting MYC
  3. Angela Krackhardt: ImmuNeoMASTER
  4. Claudia Baldus: Translation ALL
  5. Winfried Wels: UniCAR NK
  6. Christoph Kahlert: Surgical oncology in the era of precision medicine.

In Session 2 „DKTK’s latest science news“, four recently published high-ranking publications with participation of DKTK scientists were presented by them and discussed:

  1. Leonille Schweizer: Molecular characterization of CNS paragangliomas identifies cauda equina paragangliomas as a distinct tumor entity (Acta neuropathologica, 2020)
  2. Sven Diederichs: A pan-cancer analysis reveals nonstop extension mutations causing SMAD4 tumour suppressor degradation (Nature cell biology, 2020)
  3. Florian Greten: AKT-dependent NOTCH3 activation drives tumor progression in a model of mesenchymal colorectal cancer (Journal of experimental medicine, 2020)
  4. Sebastian Bauer: Resistance to avapritinib in PDGFRA-driven GIST is caused by secondary mutations in the PDGFRA kinase domain (Cancer Discov, 2020)

In the afternoon, Session 3 focused on three important DKTK platforms and infrastructures.

Mechthild Krause talked about the RadiationDosePlan-Image/Biomarker-Outcome-Platform – RadPlanBio. Coordinated by the DKTK partner sites Dresden and Heidelberg, this consortium-wide platform is a database for multicenter clinical and preclinical studies linked to imaging and radiotherapy plan data. DKTK and international partners have been working with RadPlanBio since 2013. Up to now there are already 300 users and more than 50 studies.

The latest DKTK platform was presented by Heinz-Peter Schlemmer, Peter Neher and Jens Kleesiek: The DKTK Joint Imaging Platform (JIP). This IT infrastructure supports muti-center imaging studies and clinical trials as well as research on imaging biomarkers. In addition to the technical background, they demonstrated the broad range of scientific applications. Examples of JIP-involved (clinical study accompanied) projects are ARMANI (liver metastases), SUBPAN (pancreatic cancer) or MEMORI (esophagogastric adenocarcinoma) and the RAdiological COOperative Network „RACOON“ (COVID-19).

As a third central platform, the DKFZ/DKTK/NCT MASTER program (Molecularly Aided Stratification for Tumor Eradication) was presented by Peter Horak and Christoph Heining. This program is well established at all DKTK sites for comprehensive, multidimensional genomic characterization of patients with rare cancers or at younger age. The program already includes more than 4.000 registered patients, 2.700 analyses and 2.000 recommendations based on the results.

Session 4 was dedicated to the future of DKTK. Björn Scheffler presented a draft concept of the strategic further development of DKTK called "DKTK 2025", a joint effort of the DKTK professors. This year's retreat thus concluded with a lively discussion on future "hot topics" and successful flourishing DKTK structures. Michael Baumann took the closing words and thanked all DKTK researchers for their participation today and moreover, for their outstanding scientific contributions.


Nadine Ogrissek, DKTK Coordination Office