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Single-cell researcher Stefanie Grosswendt receives BSIO award

“I am so thrilled to receive the award and am especially grateful to the BSIO committee and my former mentors,” says Grosswendt. “The award provides us with a little more freedom in our research, such as allowing us to test our methods more broadly.” The BSIO Female Independence Award comes with €25,000 and is intended to help young women scientists launch their own lab. Stefanie Grosswendt will share the award and honorarium with Dr. Soulafa Mamlouk of the Institute of Pathology at Charité.

Grosswendt’s research focuses on embryonic development and neuroblastoma, which is one of the most common types of cancer in early childhood. “Neuroblastoma begins to develop in the womb,” says Grosswendt. “In these early childhood tumors, the cells are at different developmental stages. The single-cell approaches we have developed should help us to understand more precisely this type of cancer and in the long term improve diagnosis and treatment options.”

Making single-cell analysis clinically useful

Grosswendt is one of four junior group leaders recruited internationally by the BIH, the MDC and Charité for their joint Focus Area “Single Cell Approaches for Personalized Medicine.” The research groups will be located at the MDC’s Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB) in Mitte.

Single-cell technologies allow researchers to map on a large scale which genes are active in individual cells – for example, in tumors – at any given time. “The cellular programs responsible for the mobility and plasticity of neuroblastoma cells are similar to those which are active during embryonic development. We are using single-cell technologies to identify these programs” explains Grosswendt. “We are also developing new methods to study how cells interact and communicate with each other.” Above all, she wants to make the possibilities offered by single-cell analysis useful in clinical decision-making. She and her team are therefore working closely with Professor Angelika Eggert, Director of the Department of Pediatric Oncology and Hematology at Charité.

Grosswendt received her PhD in systems biology at the MDC in 2015, under the supervision of Professor Nikolaus Rajewsky. She then went to Boston in the United States, where she used single-cell technologies to study the development of mouse embryos in the lab of Professor Alexander Meissner. In 2018 she followed Meissner to the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (MPIMG) in Berlin. She has led the BIH junior research group “From Cell States to Function” since December 2020.

Co-award winner is Dr. Soulafa Mamlouk of Charité

Dr. Soulafa Mamlouk from the Institute of Pathology at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin is the co-recipient of this year’s BSIO Female Independence Award. She employs evolutionary concepts to investigate the progression and resistance of cancer, for example, under selective pressure from cancer therapies. Mamlouk was recently awarded a DFG grant for the research project entitled “Tracking the evolution of therapy resistance in colorectal cancer.” One focus of her work is genetic heterogeneity and genomic alterations in colorectal cancer.

Further information:

BSIO Female Independence Award
Single Cell Approaches for Personalized Medicine
From Cell States to Function – Stefanie Grosswendt’s Research Group


Dr. Stefanie Seltmann

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