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Ana Banito receives Hella Bühler Prize 2024

Ana Banito © Tobias Schwerdt / DKFZ

Her outstanding research on the biology of soft-tissue sarcomas, a kind of tumor occurring in particular with children and young adults, has earned 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. Ana 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, Ana 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 imitate the changes in the sarcoma cells and to develop approaches to prevent the growth of the cells. A further emphasis of her work lies on the epigenetic mechanisms, which are deregulated in the case of these sarcomas. Here, too, greater understanding is intended 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. For her post-doctoral research she participated inter alia in the "Cancer Biology & Genetics Program" at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York (USA). Since 2019 Ana 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 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 of "Preclinical Pediatric Oncology" at the Hopp Children's Cancer Center Heidelberg. Finally Ana Bonito will give a short presentation to share insights into her research.

The research prize donated by the Heidelberg dentist Hella Bühler (1910 - 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.


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