Dr. Sven Diederichs Distinguished for Outstanding Work in Cancer Research
26 June 2013
This year’s Hella Bühler Prize worth EUR 100,000 goes to the Heidelberg tumour biologist Dr. Sven Diederichs. The distinction, which has now been awarded for the eighth time, is aimed at young researchers at Ruperto Carola whose outstanding cancer research has garnered well-deserved attention. The prize monies will support Dr. Diederichs’s research endeavours in those fields of molecular and cell biology that are of crucial significance for various issues in oncology. Dr. Diederichs performs his research at Heidelberg University’s Institute of Pathology and the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ). The prize will be presented to Dr. Diederichs at the DKFZ on 2 July 2013.
In his research work, Dr. Diederichs investigates the function, regulation and biogenesis of non-protein-coding RNA molecules. The focus is on ribonucleic acids (RNA) whose genetic information is not used to form proteins. Instead, they perform a number of functional, regulatory or structural tasks in the cell as RNA molecules. The Heidelberg scientist inquires into the significance of these ribonucleic acids for healthy cells and degenerate cancer cells. To this end, he identifies as many as possible of the RNA sections of different lengths that intervene in important cell regulation processes and in particular may have an impact on cancer genesis. These molecules are then functionally characterised down to the molecular level. So far, Dr. Diederichs has concentrated on tumours of the lung and the liver. Here, he has already discovered important RNAs that are crucial, say, for the spread of tumours – metastasis – and that in future may represent therapeutic target structures.
Sven Diederichs (b. 1976) studied biochemistry at the universities of Tübingen and Witten/Herdecke. After completing his studies there, he did his dissertation in 2004 in the field of haematology and oncology at the universities of Münster and Witten/Herdecke. As a postdoc, Dr. Diederichs worked at the Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston (USA) before coming to Heidelberg in 2008. Since 2009, he has headed the independent Helmholtz University Young Investigators Group “Molecular RNA Biology and Cancer” at the German Cancer Research Centre and Heidelberg University’s Institute of Pathology. Dr. Diederichs has been awarded a number of distinctions for his research work, including a prize for young scientists from the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina, a Scholar-in-Training award from the American Association of Cancer Research, the Karl Freudenberg Prize of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Binder Innovation Prize of the German Society for Cell Biology.
The ceremony to mark the presentation of the Hella Bühler Prize 2013 will be opened by the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the German Cancer Research Centre, Prof. Dr. Otmar D. Wiestler, and the Rector of Heidelberg University, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel. After a retrospective from 2012 award winner neuro-oncologist Dr. Christiane Opitz, Prof. Dr. Peter Schirmacher, managing and medical director of the Institute of Pathology, will deliver an appreciation of Dr. Diederichs’s achievements. In his subsequent talk entitled “Long Non-Coding RNAs in Tumour Disorders”, the award-winner will be asking “what we can learn about cancer from the dark matter of the genome”. The ceremony takes place at 4 pm on Tuesday (2 July) at the DKFZ’s Communication Centre, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, seminar room K1 / K2.
The research prize, endowed by Heidelberg dentist Dr. Hella Bühler (1910 to 2002), is aimed at supporting young Heidelberg researchers to continue and deepen their ongoing excellent work in the field of cancer research.