Scientific achievements at Dept Molecular Oncology in 2019

As we enter a new year, we can look back on our scientific achievements in 2019. Dept Mol Oncol is one of six research departments at the Institute for Cancer Research, and we account for about 10% of the total staff (full-time equivalent). Harvesting from a positive working environment and active collaborations among our three research groups, we can document an upward trajectory in the volume, citation numbers, and impact of our research publications.

Selected highlights from 2019 include:

We showed that multifocal primary prostate cancers have an exceptional degree of intra-patient genomic heterogeneity (Løvf et al., Eur Urol), and this challenges the usefulness of known molecular classifiers (Carm et al., Sci Rep).

We published a comprehensive review on biomarker-guided therapy for colorectal cancer (Sveen et al., Nat Rev Clin Oncol), in addition to demonstration of the clinical impact of tumor microenvironment markers relative to colorectal cancer cell-intrinsic genomic markers (Dienstmann et al., Ann Oncol; Berg et al., Oncogene).

A national multicentre study and innovation project to monitor bladder cancer patients with cancer-specific epigenetic markers in urine samples has documented strong discovery and validation results (unpublished).

Graphs of publications, citations and degrees since 2011
Left: Publications from scientists with their main position at Dept Mol Oncol. The blue line represents citation numbers (collaborative papers counted once). Right: Academic degrees with main supervisors from Dept Mol Oncol.

With the successful completion of six academic degrees (MSc or PhD) last year, we more than fulfilled our aim of one degree from each group. Two PhDs were defended: Heidi Pharo (“Urine-based detection of bladder cancer - optimizing technology and identifying DNA methylation biomarkers”) and Kaja Christine Graue Berg (“Integrated genomics of colorectal cancer”), both at the University of Oslo. In addition, four MSc students defended their theses at Dept BioSciences and Dept Informatics (University of Oslo).

Three early career scientists were rewarded for their excellence: Marthe Løvf (37 years), best article award from Oslo University Hospital (Løvf et al., Eur Urol, 2019; IF: 18, highlighted in Nature Urology); Anita Sveen (38 years), “Early Career Award” from Oslo University Hospital; and Peter W. Eide (37 years), “Young researcher award” from Onkologisk Forum (Annual National Oncology meeting).

We would like to express our gratitude to all our funding sources. Our colorectal cancer project was offered continued support the next 6 years as a Strategic Research Area at the Hospital. More than 75% of our total budget is from external sources, and we are grateful to the Norwegian Cancer Society, the Research Council of Norway, and the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority for their generous financial support of 5 major translational research projects, starting 2020.

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