In the funded project, Dr. Florian Tran, clinician scientist at the Cluster of Excellence PMI, plans to use a new technology to detect individual signatures in intestinal tissue.
This is a great success for Dr. Florian Tran, who has been funded since 2019 on the Clinician Scientist Program of the Cluster of Excellence “Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation” (PMI). The 31 year old physician and scientist has been awarded an Else Kröner Memorial Fellowship for a new research project. The fellowship comes with funding of €230,000 and releases him from his clinical duties for two years so that he can concentrate fully on the research. “I am really delighted with this particular funding as it enables me to take my first steps to scientific independence,” explained Tran. The spokesperson for the Cluster of Excellence PMI, Professor Stefan Schreiber, emphasized that “I am proud that a young researcher from our university and our Cluster of Excellence has received this important award. This is, above all else, a reflection of Dr. Tran’s personal qualifications.” The success also underlines the need for translational research within structured Clinician Scientist Programs. “This is the only way to enable ambitious clinical research to be conducted alongside and on an equal footing to patient care in the hospital,” said the Director of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB) at Kiel University and Director of the Department of Internal Medicine I at the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Campus Kiel. “In the project, spatial transcriptomics technology, which has only recently become available, will be used for the first time for the molecular characterization of intestinal tissue. I am very confident that the results will bring us a step closer to individualized treatment. The new technology secures our position as a center of innovation here in Kiel,” added Professor Philip Rosenstiel, Director at the IKMB.
Molecular markers for successful individual treatment
Florian Tran is a researcher at the IKMB and assistant physician at the UKSH, Campus Kiel. The primary objective of his work is to understand chronic inflammatory bowel diseases in as many aspects as possible and thereby improve their treatment. The project now being funded focuses on ulcerative colitis. This chronic inflammation in the large intestine is associated with frequent bouts of diarrhea and stomach cramps, severely restricts the patient’s social life and increases the risk of bowel cancer. Although, in principle, there are very effective treatments, disease control is often inadequate on an individual case basis over the long term. “We do not know which treatment works best for which patient or how we achieve long-term remission, in other words, freedom from symptoms and inflammation. Our objective is to develop molecular markers that predict individual responses to certain treatments,” explained Tran. This will now involve a brand-new technology called spatial transcriptomics. “Using this technology, we can analyze the genetic information of individual cells in their exact spatial location on a tissue sample. We place a type of grid on the tissue and we can record complex molecular signals for each grid point,” said Tran, who is assisted in his analysis by bioinformatician Dr. Archana Bhardwaj. The spatial molecular data will be compared between intestinal tissue samples from patients receiving two different treatments. The objective here is to find molecular characteristics that reflect the success or failure of the particular treatment. Tests will also be conducted to establish whether these characteristics can be used to predict which particular treatment offers the patient long-term freedom from symptoms.
About Florian Tran
Florian Tran studied Medicine in Kiel and London and graduated in 2016. From 2013 to 2019 he studied for his doctoral degree at the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB) and graduated as Dr. med. In 2017 he began his advanced training as specialist physician of internal medicine at the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Campus Kiel. Since 2019 he has been a clinician scientist at the Cluster of Excellence PMI and post-doctoral researcher at the IKMB. He has already won various awards, including the Ismar-Boas-Prize of the German Society for Gastroenterology, Digestive and Metabolic Diseases (DGVS) in 2019 for his dissertation.
Else Kröner Memorial Fellowships
Else Kröner Memorial Fellowships are individual fellowships for young physicians in further education, who wish to implement a two-year project. The scholarship is endowed with a total of €230,000, of which up to 80% can be used to finance the company's own collectively agreed salary. The foundation Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung thereby supports particularly talented and motivated physicians who are active in clinical and scientific fields at the beginning of their professional career. Significantly advancing an especially promising medical research project by releasing these physicians from clinical responsibilities for a period of two years: the above is intended to be used towards laying the cornerstone for scientific self-reliance and a career as clinician scientist.
- Link to the foundation’s website for the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung: www.ekfs.de
About the Cluster of Excellence PMI
The Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI) is being funded from 2019 to 2025 through the German Excellence Strategy (ExStra). It succeeds the "Inflammation at Interfaces” Cluster, which was already funded in two periods of the Excellence Initiative (2007-2018). Around 300 members from eight institutions at four locations are involved: Kiel (Kiel University, University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN)), Lübeck (University of Lübeck, University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH)), Plön (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology) and Borstel (Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center).
The goal is to translate interdisciplinary research findings on chronic inflammatory diseases of barrier organs to healthcare more intensively, as well as to fulfil previously unsatisfied needs of the patients. Three points are important in the context of successful treatment, and are therefore at the heart of PMI research: the early detection of chronic inflammatory diseases, the prediction of disease progression and complications, and the prediction of individual responses to treatment.
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