m4 Award for e:Med scientist

Press Release of Helmholtz Zentrum München:

The m4 Award was presented by the State Secretary Franz Josef Pschierer at the Munich Residenz on 1 December 2015. Dr. Nikola Müller, Martin Preusse and Prof. Dr. Dr. Fabian Theis from the Institute of Computational Biology at the Helmholtz Zentrum München are among the winners. Their project "KNOWING - Turning Big Data into Personalized Therapies" will be funded with a sum of 500,000 Euros over the next two years.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Fabian Theis

With this award, the The Bavarian Ministry for Economic Affairs honors five innovative biomedical research projects that have the potential to lead to a business start-up and are still in the so-called "pre-seed phase", i.e. prior to the founding of a company. KNOWING is one such project. The life sciences are being faced with a huge amount of data that is characterized by a great diversity. In order to develop targeted drugs, very different data must be linked, for example, such as those relating to genes, metabolism and tissue studies. The team led by Dr. Nikola Müller is working on software that saves this flood of data, links it automatically and thereby identifies novel biomarkers and drug targets for personalized therapies. Thus, the rapidly growing knowledge base can be harvested and the development of drugs accelerated.

The m4 Award was established by the “Munich Leading Edge Cluster", a program focusing on the promotion of the "personalized medicine" in the Greater Munich Area that is jointly funded by the federal government and the Land of Bavaria. In the early stage of its establishment, this competition has already been extended across the entire territory of the Free State of Bavaria with funding provided by the Bavarian Ministry for Economic Affairs. In the third bidding round, five winning teams were again selected among Bavarian universities, research institutions or clinics. In addition to the KNOWING project from the Helmholtz Zentrum München, which concentrates on the analysis of vasts amounts of data, three other excellent teams develop immunotherapies for the next generation, which are dedicated to the fight against cancer.  These use the patient's immune system to destroy the tumor cells. Another team is working on drugs to treat obesity, a disease whose treatment has the potential to cause side effects so that it has been only insufficiently treatable so far.

“To Bavaria as a high-tech location, research and development are of central importance. This also concerns the transfer into innovative products and technologies and builds the basis for keeping up with the global competition", said the Secretary of State Pschierer. "The m4 Award is an accurately fitting tool that takes into account the difficult conditions that prevail in the medical field. We thus reward the best ideas and support them on the way from research to application. This way we can create real benefits for patients significantly faster.”

BioM, the network organization of the Bavarian biotechnology industry, has been organizing the m4 Award since 2011. Prof. Horst Domdey, CEO of BioM explained: "It was again not an easy task for our jury to select the best five candidates among 40 excellent submissions. The contents clearly demonstrate that biomedical research in Bavaria is operating at the cutting edge of new technology. We will be pleased to accompany the winners even through their next steps. " There will be a further call for proposals in 2016 with a focus on medical technology, which will be coordinated by the Medical Valley EMN eV.
Prof. Dr. Fabian Theis, Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health, Institute of Computational Biology, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg - Tel.: +49 89 3187 4030

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