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MDC cancer researcher Roland Schwarz awarded BBAW prize

2016-11-14 / Dr. Roland F. Schwarz of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) conducts research on tumors using bioinformatics. He has just been awarded the Prize of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW), donated by the Monika Kutzner Foundation for the Advancement of Cancer Research, for his outstanding work.


Featured image: Dr. Roland F. Schwarz. Image: Keith Heppell.

Dr. Roland F. Schwarz of the MDC’s Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB) will receive this year’s prize on 25 November at the BBAW’s Einstein Day. It is awarded annually to outstanding young researchers and is endowed with €10,000.

Schwarz, head of a research group at the MDC since October 2016, wants to understand how tumor cells evolve. To this end, he has been sequencing the genomes of a large number of cancerous tumors and analyzing them with computer algorithms and statistical methods.

“Understanding how tumors grow and develop is crucial for making accurate predictions about the course of the disease and the success of a particular therapy,” says Schwarz.

The development of cells in a tumor is a complex process. Living in their own ecosystem, cancer cells compete with each other and have to prevail against the immune system and drugs. They acquire new traits by accumulating mutations in their genome. This means that certain areas of a tumor can develop resistance to drugs, survive therapy, and lead to a resurgence of the disease. As part of his work, Schwarz identifies these kinds of mutations and researches their effects on cells and on the patient.

Cancer genomics is therefore a cornerstone of personalized cancer therapies, which are currently the subject of intense study and development. Schwarz often examines samples from cancer patients, but also studies animal models with disease patterns similar to those of humans.

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