On December 1, 2017, Dr. Il-Kang Na will be assuming the position of BIH Johanna Quandt Professor for Therapy-Induced Remodeling in Immuno-Oncology at Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.
As malignant tumors develop differently in every person, no two cancers are ever the same. Scientists are constantly gaining a better understanding of why this is the case, allowing them to create far more precise and personalized therapies for every patient. But how exactly does the chosen treatment method affect the tumor, the immune system, and the relationship between the two? And how can these therapies be further adapted and improved?
Il-Kang Na’s research is dedicated to finding answers to these questions. So far, her work has led her to discover certain immunodeficiencies caused by cancer therapies and to develop innovative ideas for new therapy approaches. Na discovered, for example, that cancer therapies can significantly impact the formation, function, and survival of the body’s own immune cells. She also successfully developed a model that allows her to observe how certain immune cells react during cell therapy.
Na has a clear goal in her position as BIH Johanna Quandt Professor: She wants to establish a monitoring system that provides detailed information about important disease and immune system parameters during treatment. “A patient’s course of therapy is initially determined on the basis of specific tumor and patient characteristics,” says Na.
“The chosen therapy is usually only changed if and when clinical or imaging data show that the tumor is growing and spreading despite treatment.” But, she explains, a lot of time can pass before this comes about: “We therefore need to pay far more attention to changes in the tumor, its environment, and the immune system during treatment. This is the only way that we can recognize early on if a patient is not responding to treatment.” These changes are dynamic and hinder the efficacy of both medication and the body’s own immune defenses.
With the help of modern bioanalytical high-throughput technologies, the professor wants to develop a comprehensive tool that can record and monitor molecular and genetic changes at various moments during therapy. This tool would allow cancer treatment to be tailored to the individual patient and thus be significantly improved. Na wants to begin by developing a monitoring system for patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma – a cancer that originates from an immune cell. “My long-term goal is to also apply this technique to other treatments and diseases – not just cancer.”
“We are living in an age where new targeted cancer therapies and immunotherapies are progressing at a very fast pace,” says Professor Martin Lohse, spokesperson of the BIH Executive Board and Scientific Directorate, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC). “With her work, Professor Na is ensuring that these therapies can continue to be even more accurately tailored to the personal disease progression of every cancer patient.”
Il-Kang Na, born in Berlin in 1977, studied medicine at Freie Universität Berlin. She received her doctorate there in 2004, and then joined Charité for her residency and as a postdoc. After a postdoc fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, Na started her own research group, Applied Transplantation Immunology, at the MDC’s and Charité’s Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) in Berlin, where she also completed her postdoctoral lecture qualification in 2011. Na has received numerous awards for her research, including fellowships and research grants from the German Cancer Aid, the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung, and the German Research Foundation as well as the BSIO Female Independency Award.
BIH Johanna Quandt Professorships
Il-Kang Na is the third physician, after Petra Ritter and Ute Scholl, to be appointed to one of three newly created BIH Johanna Quandt Professorships that support the advancement of translational research. With the BIH Johanna Quandt Professorships, the Stiftung Charité supports the establishment of three W2 professorships at BIH specifically for women. Each of the professorships is coupled with a long-term perspective from the very beginning and therefore represents a pilot scheme for introducing a real tenure track. Another special feature of the BIH Johanna Quandt Professorships is that the applicants themselves determine the research focus of their professorship. The decisive factor for the selection was the innovative and interdisciplinary orientation with a translational approach. With the BIH Johanna Quandt Professorships, BIH, Charité, and Stiftung Charité are helping to ensure equal opportunities within the Berlin health-research sector.
Alexandra Hensel | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Unique brain 'fingerprint' can predict drug effectiveness
11.07.2018 | McGill University
Direct conversion of non-neuronal cells into nerve cells
03.07.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
17.07.2018 | Information Technology
17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering