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CERN Foundation Awards 2018 Scientific Fellows


CERN Foundation Announced Two Distinguished Scientific Awards

At the 2017 CERN Foundation Annual Meeting, held during the Society for Neuro-Oncology’s Annual Meeting in November, the CERN Foundation announced two distinguished scientific fellowship awards. Both fellowships provide a competitive award for ependymoma research. 

CERN Foundation Scientific Ependymoma Fellowship

Kristian Pajtler, MD, pediatric neuro-oncology clinical fellow at the University Hospital Heidelberg in Germany, is the recipient of the 2018 CERN Foundation Scientific Ependymoma Fellowship.

As the recipient of the CERN fellowship, Dr. Pajtler plans to investigate improving diagnostic accuracy in pediatric and adolescent ependymoma by analyzing both retrospective sample collections and prospective clinical molecular data on ependymomas. 

The Robert Connor Dawes Scientific Fellowship

Claire King, PhD, research associate at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute at the University of Cambridge, is the recipient of the 2018 Robert Connor Dawes Scientific Fellowship.

As the recipient of the Robert Connor Dawes fellowship, Dr. King plans to investigate the genetic fusion that drives an ependymoma subtype known as supratentorial, or forebrain ependymoma. The fusion is between two genes, RELA and C11orf95. 


Childhood Ependymoma Research Discovers Mechanisms That Affect Prognosis

Ependymoma is a devastating disease with no current cures. But physician-scientist and neuropathologist Sriram Venneti, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Michigan, aims to shift this paradigm by investigating the mechanisms that drive childhood brain tumors like ependymoma.

“In the last 10 years we have seen a radical change in how discoveries are being made because we no longer look at cancer as a purely genetically driven disease,” says Dr. Venneti.

With this understanding, Dr. Venneti has focused his research on the epigenetics of brain tumors, or studying heritable changes in gene expression that don’t involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence.

Dr. Venneti’s epigenetic research is building off work published by a team led by Michael Taylor, M.D., Ph.D., at the Hospital for Sick Children at the University of Toronto in Canada. They discovered that there are no recurrent mutations, but rather specific epigenetic changes in DNA methylation.

“A lot of puzzling things are emerging in the molecular biology of childhood brain tumors including ependymomas, which is exciting because it allows us to come up with new ways to understand the disease,” says Dr. Venneti.
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