With 20,000 new diagnoses and 6,000 deaths per year, childhood cancer is the deadliest disease in Europe among children over one year of age. Austria is one of Europe's leading countries in the treatment of childhood cancer due to the pioneering research performed at the CCRI. Assoc.-Prof. Dr. Kaan Boztug (41), leading expert for congenital rare diseases of hematopoiesis and the immune system, will take over the agendas of the Scientific Director and thus, the scientific responsibility for the dedicated research projects of the 120-strong scientific team at CCRI with 4th March 2019. His aim is to further expand the institute's position as one of the world's leading research centres in the field of childhood cancer and to intensify interdisciplinary and international research cooperation. Kaan Boztug was selected as the top candidate for the position as Scientific Director in a competitive international call for tenders and appointed by a top-level hiring committee.
Kaan Boztug, the newly appointed Scientific Director of CCRI, has a long and successful relationship with the CCRI. As senior physician in pediatric oncology and Head of Immunology at the St. Anna Children's Hospital, he sees the opportunities and limitations in the day-to-day treatment of children suffering from cancer in the clinic, which motivate him to undertake in-depth research activities. Since 2016, Kaan Boztug leads the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Rare and Undiagnosed Diseases, a research centre funded by the Ludwig Boltzmann Society. CCRI is one of its partner institutions, as is CeMM - Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Medical University of Vienna.
CCRI´s new Scientific Director is well-connected, not only on the national level. For Kaan Boztug, the expansion of cross-border cooperation is decisive for progress in research and the future of comprehensive treatment options. "As for other groups of rare diseases, childhood cancer research benefits from interdisciplinary, multicentre and international cooperation. The vision for the future of our research team and the entire institute will be to provide long-term help to those children who cannot yet be cured sustainably with the available treatment options. This claim also shapes my work and at the same time drives the passionate and consistent further development of our research activities.”
With expertise and passion for medicine and research:
About Kaan Boztug
The tasks associated with the new position fit seamlessly into Kaan Boztug's medical-scientific curriculum vitae: After his medical studies in Düsseldorf, Freiburg and London and his doctorate with Iain Campbell at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla/San Diego in the USA, he completed his clinical training and postdoctoral research work with Christoph Klein at the Hanover Medical School. In 2011, he took over a position as group leader at the CeMM - Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Academy of Sciences in Vienna and is interim Associate Professor at the Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine of the Medical University of Vienna. In addition, he is the Director of the CeRUD - Vienna Center for Rare and Undiagnosed Diseases and Director of the Jeffrey Modell Research and Diagnostic Center for Primary Immunodeficienies at the St. Anna Children's Hospital and at the Medical University of Vienna. Since 2016, Kaan Boztug has headed the LBI-RUD - Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Rare and Undiagnosed Diseases. Numerous national and international awards confirm the scientific excellence of Kaan Boztug, among them an FWF START Grant, an ERC Starting Grant, and recently an ERC Consolidator Grant as well as the Clemens von Pirquet-Prize as the most cited scientist in pediatrics and adolescent medicine 2018.
The Children's Cancer Research Institute, founded in 1988, develops and optimizes diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic strategies for the treatment of children and adolescents with cancer by combining basic research with translational and clinical research. The focus is on the specific characteristics of childhood tumor diseases in order to provide young patients with the best possible and most innovative therapies. Around 120 scientists and students are involved in ongoing research projects at CCRI. Dedicated research groups in the fields of tumor genomics and epigenomics, immunology, molecular biology, cell biology, bioinformatics and clinical research are working together to harmonize scientific experimental findings with the clinical needs of physicians.
Every year, about 250 children and adolescents in Austria are diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to interdisciplinary research work on an international level, 70 to 80 % of the children affected can already be cured.
(Copyright picture: Sabine Schwarz)