After months of work nominating, whittling down, discussing, dare I say arguing, and finally voting, we can now announce that the winners of BioMed Central’s 8th Annual Research Awards, sponsored by antibodies-online.com, are…
Ellen Heitzer and Michael Speicher from the Medical University of Graz, Austria, and their fellow researchers, for their research investigating markers of prostate cancer, published in Genome Medicine.
Each year BioMed Central’s annual research awards recognise excellence in scientific research made freely available through open access publishing. And each year it doesn’t get any easier. This time round our panel of expert judges had the unenviable task of selecting the winning team of researchers from a shortlist of ten subject-specific category award winners.
After some suspense, the award was finally announced and presented at the Metabolism, Diet and Disease: Cancer and metabolism conference last night at the Georgetown University Hotel and conference center, Washington DC.
And why this article? Well, Heitzer and Speicher’s research focuses on a topic which has probably touched all our lives – cancer. Specifically, the research looks at the hunt for mutations in tumor genomes which can predict the characteristics of particular cancers and ultimately lead to the development of tailored anti-cancer treatments. Their research is particularly focused on prostate cancer, the sixth-leading cause of cancer-related death in men worldwide.
In their winning article, Heitzer and colleagues make use of current approaches to investigate tumor-specific genome changes by taking biopsies not from the tumors themselves, but by sequencing DNA from easily-accessible fluids such as blood and plasma – the so-called ‘liquid biopsy’ approach.
However, by using a benchtop high-throughput sequencing instrument -the Illumina MiSeq – Heitzer and colleagues were able to examine the DNA circulating in the plasma of cancer patients more rapidly and more cheaply than previous studies without compromising accuracy.
“It’s a great honor to receive this award because I think that non-invasive cancer diagnosis is truly a growing field and it’s important to have techniques to get genomic follow up data. I’d like to thank my colleagues and also the clinicians and patients at the Department of Urology, Medical University of Graz, for our samples which are so crucial to establishing these techniques.” said Ellen Heitzer.
Dr Andreas Kessell, co-founder of antibodies-online.com who sponsored the award said:
“At antibodies-online.com we help scientists to find and order highly validated products for their cutting edge research projects. Chosen from a short-list of ten category award winners, the overall award honors outstanding research published by BioMed Central’s in 2013. We are excited to sponsor the BioMed Central Annual Research Award for the second time this year, as this award brings an opportunity to advance research in the life sciences.”
In their interview with our online magazine Biome, Heitzer and Speicher give a frank account of what got them into this field of research, what is needed for their approach to become routine clinical practice, and what the future of non-invasive cancer diagnostics entails.