(Vienna, 30 October 2017) Kerstin Wimmer, junior doctor at the Department of Surgery, MedUni Vienna/Vienna General Hospital and member of the Comprehensive Cancer Center Vienna (CCC) has been awarded the Georg Stumpf cancer research scholarship by the Austrian Society of Surgical Oncology (ACO-ASSO). ACO-ASSO is to fund Wimmer's PhD thesis dedicated to identifying biomarkers to predict the response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in early-stage high-risk breast cancer or locally advanced breast cancer.
The paper is entitled "Immunomodulatory biomarkers in neoadjuvant chemotherapy of breast cancer". Currently, the standard treatment for early-stage, high-risk or locally advanced breast cancer is chemotherapy with epirubicin/cyclophosphamide followed by docetaxel prior to surgery. However, this treatment does not bring about shrinkage or disappearance of the tumour in all patients. Predictive biomarkers might help to identify those patients for whom neoadjuvant chemotherapy is unlikely to be beneficial. (Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is chemotherapy prior to surgical removal of the tumour.)
The role of immunomodulatory parameters
Wimmer is investigating to what extent neoadjuvant chemotherapy influences immunomodulatory parameters circulating in the blood, such as cytokines or chemokines, for example, and whether this influence correlates with the response to preoperative therapy. She is also examining whether these parameters can be used as predictive biomarkers.
The lead investigators are Florian Fitzal, Ruth Exner and Rudolf Oehler, in whose laboratory the study is being conducted. These three experts in the treatment of breast cancer work at the Department of Surgery, MedUni Vienna/Vienna General Hospital and are members of the CCC.
About the Georg Stumpf cancer research scholarship
The Austrian Society of Surgical Oncology (ACO-ASSO) awards the "Georg Stumpf Cancer Research Scholarship" on an annual basis. The scholarship is worth €10,000 and is presented at the Society's annual conference. It is used to fund highly qualified young scientists, who have already made their mark through several years of independent research work in the field of surgical oncology. A prerequisite for receiving the promotion prize is membership of the Austrian Society of Surgical Oncology.
About Kerstin Wimmer
Kerstin Wimmer started her specialist surgical training at the Department of Surgery of MedUni Vienna/Vienna General Hospital in May 2014. She is also a member of the scientific breast team there, which is led by Florian Fitzal. The Vienna-born doctor and researcher completed her medical studies at the Medical University of Vienna in 2012 and spent the first part of her internship at Vienna Private Hospital. From September 2013 until May 2014 she acted as transplant coordinator at Vienna General Hospital/MedUni Vienna. She is currently working on her doctoral thesis as part of her PhD programme.