Award for Outstanding Work in Cancer Research

Her outstanding research on the biology of soft-tissue sarcomas, a kind of tumour particularly occurring with children and young adults, has earned Dr Ana Banito the Hella Bühler Prize - which comes with 100,000 euros in prize money. The award granted by Heidelberg University goes to young researchers from the Heidelberg research location who have already drawn attention to themselves through the outstanding scientific quality of their cancer research. Dr Banito is a junior research group leader at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Hopp Children’s Cancer Center Heidelberg (KiTZ). The award ceremony is taking place on 16 May 2024. Frauke Melchior, Rector of Ruperto Carola, will present the prize.

In her research, Dr Banito focuses on the hitherto little understood molecular mechanisms giving rise to soft-tissue sarcomas, which are particularly difficult to treat due to the lack of models for translational studies. The scientist’s goal is therefore to understand the underlying mechanisms of tumour formation, to genetically mimic changes observed in sarcoma patient tumours and to develop approaches to prevent the growth of sarcoma cells. A further emphasis of her work lies on the epigenetic mechanisms, which are deregulated in the case of many of these sarcomas. Here, too, greater understanding is crucial to enable new therapeutic strategies.

Ana Banito studied biology at the University of Lisbon (Portugal) and earned her doctorate in 2011 in the field of biosciences at the medical faculty of Imperial College London (UK). She then did research as a postdoc at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York (USA) as part of the "Cancer Biology & Genetics Program". Since 2019 Dr Banito has headed the junior research group "Soft-tissue sarcoma", which is located at the Hopp Children’s Cancer Center Heidelberg and the German Cancer Research Center. KiTZ is a joint facility of the DKFZ, Heidelberg University Hospital and Heidelberg University. Last year Ana Banito was selected as one of 26 researchers for the EMBO Young Investigator Programme of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO).

The Rector of Heidelberg University will open the ceremony to award the Hella Bühler Prize. Then Dr Wilhelm Palm will give a retrospective report on his projects. The 2023 recipient of the Hella Bühler Prize, he heads a junior research group at the German Cancer Research Center and is a member of the DKFZ-ZMBH Alliance - the strategic alliance between the DKFZ and the Center for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University (ZMBH). The tribute to the current prize-winner will come from Stefan Pfister, Director at the Hopp Children’s Cancer Center Heidelberg, head of division at the German Cancer Research Center and also a paediatric oncologist at Heidelberg University Hospital. Finally Dr Bonito will give a short presentation to share insights into her research.

The research prize donated by the Heidelberg dentist Dr Hella Bühler (1910 to 2002) goes to early-career researchers at Heidelberg University or to young researchers involved in scientific collaboration with Ruperto Carola. The award aims to support the prize winners at an early stage in their career in continuing and deepening their already outstanding achievements in the field of cancer research. Granted by the university, it is one of the most valuable awards in the field of cancer research in Germany.

Heidelberg University invites you to the award ceremony for the Hella Bühler Prize on 16 May 2024. The non-public event is taking place in the lecture hall of Marsilius Kolleg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 130.1, starting at 5 p.m.