Research dedicated to life - LIH publishes its activity report 2016
LIH is pleased to present its activity report 2016, an opportunity to look back on a scientifically active and fruitful year, serving health and healthcare.
Organised in three research departments specialised in the fields of infectious and immune diseases, oncology and population health, and including the biobank IBBL - "Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg", LIH has more than 350 employees, of whom nearly 200 are scientists. The institute’s mission is to generate biomedical discoveries and develop them into clinical applications to improve healthcare and the population’s health status. Research at LIH advances the concept of personalised medicine aiming to offer patient-tailored therapies.
Key figures 2016
• 292 articles published, of which 19 in very high-ranked scientific journals
• 5 patent applications filed
• 1075 new participants recruited for health and clinical studies
• 42 partnerships with industry
• 192 collaboration agreements signed with academic and private sector
• > 270 research projects initiated or ongoing
• 35 grant applications accepted
• 10.9 million € third-party funding
Promising discoveries and large-scale projects
2016 allowed to continue advancing in personalised medicine through promising discoveries, in particular on the gut microbiome and on cardiovascular disease. New research projects were initiated to study brain tumours, skin and breast cancer, and also to better treat allergies. LIH contributed as well for the first time within a large consortium to global public health studies of non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension, by providing quality national data.
Moreover, the institute pursued the recruitment of control persons for the large-scale study on Parkinson's disease conducted by the National Centre for Excellence in Research on Parkinson's Disease (NCER-PD) of which it is one of the partners. Since the launch in 2015, more than 300 people without neurodegenerative disease volunteered to serve as controls, helping to advance research for early diagnosis of Parkinson's disease and more effective treatments.
A number of researchers were rewarded for their outstanding work. Among these were Dr Etienne Moussay and Dr Jérôme Paggetti from the Department of Oncology. They received the “FNR Award for Outstanding Scientific Publication” from the Luxembourg National Research Fund for having authored a quality research article on blood cancer in 2015.
Others have been appointed to functions of high responsibility, such as Prof Romain Seil, scientist at LIH’s Sports Medicine Research Laboratory and orthopaedic surgeon at the ”Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg”. He was nominated president of the European Society of Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy (ESSKA) for a period of two years.
Since October 2016, the “Proteome and Genome Research Unit" has a new leader, Dr Gunnar Dittmar. This unit works with advanced technologies to better understand human disease at a cellular and molecular level. The team studies in particular the complexity of tumours and their response to different treatments. Dr Dittmar is keen to promote this technological platform and to create new national and international collaborations.
End of 2016, LIH and the renowned German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) in Heidelberg signed an agreement for the creation of a binational research unit called LOVIT - Laboratory of Oncolytic Virus Immuno-Therapeutics. Led by Dr Antonio Marchini, it will be composed of seven to eight members and will have laboratory space in both institutes. LOVIT will develop new innovative strategies to fight cancer in the relatively recent field of oncolytic virotherapy, a therapy that uses viruses to destroy cancer cells.
Training the next generation of scientists
Thanks to significant competitive funding obtained from the Luxembourg National Research Fund to develop the training of young scientists conducting doctoral studies in life sciences, two research and training programmes for PhD candidates specialising in immunology and oncology were created in 2016. Launched in partnership with the University of Luxembourg and several foreign universities, they will train more than 30 PhD candidates over the next six years.