Can Cell-Based Interceptive Medicine Revolutionise Healthcare?

Falling Walls Circle Tables are lending the spotlight to world-leading scientists, science strategists and policy-makers from academia, business and politics discuss how we can apply science, research and innovation to get the world moving again.

Many diseases – from cancer to heart disease – urgently require new medical interventions. And in this Falling Walls Circle Table, the panel discusses the promise offered by groundbreaking techniques in cell medicine.

Cell-based interceptive medicine involves probing small samples of cells which could allow deeper understanding of disease, from diagnostics to monitoring. These tools can provide personalised medicine – choosing the right drugs for the right patient, or even developing new therapies. What’s more, even tiny tissue samples can yield invaluable information, giving insights into otherwise untouchable organs, like the brain or heart.

Achieving the promise of cell-based interceptive medicine requires profound levels of cooperation. Data must be widely shared to yield comparative insights, while respecting patients’ privacy. To substantially shape the future of medicine, tools are needed from a wide range of disciplines. Clinicians and biologists must be joined by mathematicians and data scientists to unpick the huge amounts of information contained within small numbers of cells.

Alexia completed her PhD in the laboratory of Richard Treisman at the London Research Institute of Cancer Research UK (now the Francis Crick Institute) in London, UK. She carried out her postdoctoral research in the lab of Joan Massagué at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. She joined the Nature Cell Biology editorial team in 2010, championing cancer biology as a major field at the journal while also handling a broad range of other areas from core cell biology to biophysics.

Stefanie Dimmeler received her under-graduate, graduate, and Ph.D. degree from the University of Konstanz in Konstanz (Germany) and then completed a fellowship in Experimental Surgery at the University of Cologne and in Molecular Cardiology at the University of Frankfurt (Germany). She is Professor of Experimental Medicine (since 2001) and Director of the Institute of Cardiovascular Regeneration, Center for Molecular Medicine at the University of Frankfurt since 2008.

Angelika Eggert is a specialised physician for pediatric oncology and haematology and Einstein Professor at the Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Moreover, she is the director of the Pedtric Onology and Hematology Department at the Charité. Angelika Eggert conducts her research on the neuroblastoma, a tumor causing the death of half of the suffering children.

Nikolaus Rajewsky uses both computational and experimental molecular biology methods to study the function of RNA in animal development and stem cells. Nikolaus is a Professor at the Charité, the Max Delbrück Center, and the Humboldt University in Berlin. He has received numerous awards, including the most important prize in Germany (“Leibniz” award). In 2008 he founded and since then chairs the “Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology” (“BIMSB”, a new MDC center, now 17 labs and a new building in the center of Berlin). His latest research (and of Colleagues) using single-cell approaches was featured in Science “Breakthrough of the Year 2018”. Nikolaus serves as coordinator of “LifeTime”, a pan-European consortium of 90 research institutions & >70 companies to understand molecular mechanisms of the progression of human diseases.

Bart De Strooper is Scientific Director of the UK-Dementia Research Institute since October 2016. He is Professor of Molecular Medicine at the KU Leuven and VIB, Belgium and professor in dementia research at the University College London, UK.

Bart De Strooper’s scientific work focuses on the understanding of the fundamental mechanisms that underlie Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. His major findings are the role of ADAM10 and presenilin/gamma-secretase in the proteolysis of the amyloid precursor protein and Notch, and he has worked on microRNA, mitochondria, and more recently on the role of the different brain cell types in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease.

He received his M.D. in 1985 and Ph.D. in 1991 from KU Leuven. He worked as postdoctoral researcher in the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, in the laboratory of Carlos Dotti.

In 2018, Bart De Strooper, together with John Hardy, Christian Haas and Michel Goedert, was awarded the Brain Prize for their groundbreaking research on the genetic and molecular basis of Alzheimer disease. Other awards include the Potamkin Award of the American Academy of Neurology in 2002 (USA). the 2003 Alois Alzheimer Award of the Deutscher Gesellschaft für Gerontopsychiatrie und psychotherapie (Germany), the Joseph Maisin Prize in 2005 for fundamental biomedical sciences, (FWO Flanders, Belgium), the 2008 Metlife Foundation Award for medical research (USA) and the 2018 European Grand Prix for Research (France).

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