DKMS celebrates innovations in blood cancer research

Dr. Robert Zeiser, awarded the DKMS Mechtild Harf Science Award 2024 for his work in allogeneic stem cell transplantation.


At the EBMT 50th Annual Meeting in Glasgow, the blood cancer research community gathered to honour Professor Dr. Robert Zeiser with the DKMS Mechtild Harf Science Award 2024. Recognised globally for his pioneering research, Professor Zeiser's contributions to allogeneic stem cell transplantation have offered new hope to patients worldwide.

A life dedicated to saving lives

Professor Zeiser’s work on Graft-versus-Host Disease (GvHD), a common issue for stem cell transplant patients, has led to new treatments that are effective where older methods don’t work.

Stem cell transplants are vital for patients with acute leukaemia, but they come with the risk of GvHD, where the body attacks the new cells. Professor Zeiser's and his team have greatly improved outcomes for these patients, reducing suffering and opening the door to new treatments.

"Our analyses showed that blood cancer cells can influence and even switch off the function of immune cells with the help of lactic acid. We now want to investigate exactly how these processes take place. Our aim is to find new, targeted therapies that can prevent serious complications after a stem cell transplant," says Zeiser, who is also the spokesperson for the Collaborative Research Centre 1479 OncoEscape and a member of the Cluster of Excellence CIBSS (Centre for Integrative Biological Signalling Studies).

Paving the way for future innovations

Mechtild Harf Science Awards grant recipients

The ceremony also spotlighted the next generation of medical pioneers: Livius Penter, MD (Charité, University Hospital Berlin, Germany), Tobias Wertheimer, MD (University of Freiburg, Germany), Senthil Bhoopalan, MD, PhD (Memphis, USA), and Nicoletta Cieri, MD, PhD (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, USA). The four promising young scientists received the DKMS John Hansen Research Grant 2024, to work on projects with the goal of advancing blood cancer treatments. From early diagnosis to new treatment methods, their work is set to make significant contributions to the field.

"We are convinced that supporting young medical and scientific talent is a valuable investment in the future," shared Prof Dr Marcel van den Brink, Chairman of the DKMS Medical Advisory Board.

The grant awards recipients with 240,000 euros over a period of three years. Information on the call for applications and the application process for the DKMS John Hansen Research Grant is available here.

A collective effort against blood cancer

The awards highlights DKMS's commitment to supporting both established and emerging scientists in the field of blood cancer. Through promoting innovative research and innovation, we hope to get to a future where blood cancer can be more effectively treated.

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