5 April 2016
2016 DKMS Mechtild Harf Science Award: Renowned scientist Katharina Fleischhauer honored for her contribution to the fight against blood cancer
Katharina Fleischhauer MD, from Essen, Germany, is the winner of the 2016 DKMS Mechtild Harf Science Award. Presented by the DKMS Foundation for Giving Life, the award recognises the physician’s outstanding achievements in transplant medicine.
During this year’s EBMT (European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation) conference in Valencia, Richard Champlin MD, and Chairman of the Medical Council of DKMS, presented the award to the internationally esteemed scientist Katharina Fleischhauer, who specialises in the immunobiology of stem cell transplantation. Fleischhauer has made seminal contributions to a better understanding of the immunologic mechanisms of action after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. This has lead to advancements in the optimisation of unrelated donor selection for allogeneic stem cell transplantation.
Stem cell transplantation is being used today to successfully treat leukaemia as well as tumors of the blood and blood-forming organs. Unfortunately, successful treatment does not mean a permanent cure for all patients, partly because the biological reasons for why transplants succeed or fail is not yet sufficiently understood. Katharina Fleischhauer is therefore working to gain greater knowledge of the immunobiology of stem cell transplantation, to directly benefit patients through both the targeted selection of donors and more precise immune-interventions after transplantation.
One of the focuses of Fleischhauer’s research is the so-called HLA-DPB1 marker, which is used for improved matching of stem cell donor and patient. Through her research, Fleischhauer was able to identify beneficial HLA-DPB1 combinations. Major blood stem cell registries recently started to use these findings to improve their search procedures. When searching for a matching donor, new filters can be applied to display donors whose HLA-DPB1 types work well with the respective patient’s types. DKMS has included the HLA-DPB1 type in its typing profile of newly registered donors since 2013.
Another area the honoree deals with in her research is disease recurrence following stem cell transplantation. In this context, she has made important findings regarding the resistance mechanisms developed by leukaemia cells against immune control mediated by the donor’s immune cells. Katharina Fleischhauer is the Director of the Institute for Experimental Cellular Therapy within the University Hospital Essen, medical department of the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.
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Note to editors:
• Pictures of Katharina being presented with the award are available.
• Delete Blood Cancer UK launched in the UK in February 2013. Our key mission is to recruit, retain and motivate potential stem cell donors to save patients’ lives. We are part of the DKMS family of organisations worldwide. Please communicate our website details: www.deletebloodcancer.org.uk for public information on how to register as a potential stem cell donor, stem cell donation and news.
• The DKMS Foundation for Giving Life is the parent organization of DKMS – the German Bone Marrow Donor Center. The targeted promotion of research projects in the field of stem cell collection and transplantation is one of its primary focuses. The DKMS Mechtild Harf Science Award has been presented since 2001 to recognize the top scientific advances in this field and to support additional vital research.
• The previous award-winners:
2015: John A. Hansen, M.D., Seattle, WA, USA
2014: Richard J. O’Reilly, M.D., New York, NY, USA
2012: Dennis L. Confer, M.D., Minneapolis, MN, USA, and Prof. Guido Lucarelli, Rome, Italy
2011: Prof. Karl G. Blume, Stanford University, CA, USA
2010: Prof. Theodor Max Fliedner, Ulm, Germany
2009: Prof. Rainer Storb, Seattle, WA, USA
2008: Jon van Rood, M.D., Ph.D., Leiden, Netherlands
2007: Mary M. Horowitz, M.D., M.S., Milwaukee, WI, USA
2006: Prof. Dr. Hans-Jochem Kolb, Munich, Germany
2005: Nobel Laureate E.D. Thomas, M.D., Seattle, WA, USA
2004: Prof. Eliane Gluckman, Paris, France
2002: Prof. Dr. med. Effie Wang-Petersdorf, Seattle, WA, USA
2001: Anita Waldmann and Dr. Helmut Geiger, Bonn, Germany