Dr Nicole Kiweler, post-doctoral fellow within the Cancer Metabolism Group of the LIH Department of Oncology (DONC), was awarded a EUR 10,000 grant under the LIH Wolfgang Baertz Career Launchpad Award (Legs W. Baertz) programme at the end of March 2020. The funding will allow her to finalise her high-potential research project on cancer metabolism and metastatic progression, as well as submit the findings for publication in a high impact journal.
Following a generous donation by the late Mr Wolfgang Baertz in support of its research activities, LIH has set up a Career Launchpad Award to fund brilliant post-doctoral fellows through two EUR 10,000 scholarships, to be awarded in 2020 and 2021. The initiative aims to support young researchers in finalising or initiating a promising and innovative research project, thus helping launch their careers. The grant may be used to carry out additional experiments which could lead to a scientific breakthrough, or to generate preliminary findings to enable the awardee to establish his/her own research line. This could include travelling to a renowned laboratory to allow the applicant to learn new techniques, develop research skills, bridge the gap between research and practice, initiate third-party funded projects and consolidate his professional network.
After a first round of call for proposals, the LIH Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) selected Dr Kiweler’s application for the 2020 Award, based on her remarkable profile and on the quality of her project. As a post-doctoral fellow in Dr Johannes Meiser’s group, Dr Kiweler is working on elucidating the metabolic alterations that arise in cancer cells in response to chemotherapy, conferring them the ability to adapt to a changing microenvironment, escape from the primary niche and survive, a process that underpins the formation of metastases. The grant will cover the costs of the consumables – such as chemicals, drugs and antibodies – required to perform additional experiments to further strengthen her findings and finalise the project, in view of submitting the results for publication in a high impact journal within her research field. Moreover, the funds will allow her to attend a Lab Leadership course in Heidelberg, organised by the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), which will enable her to develop the critical soft skills necessary to manage a team as a Principle Investigator.
“I am extremely grateful to the LIH Scientific Steering Committee and to the Management for giving me this wonderful opportunity. Having my results published in a high-impact journal will not only allow me to strengthen my research track record but also increase my chances of being selected for oral presentations at international conferences. These experiences would enable me to extend my scientific network, thereby preparing me to become an independent researcher”, says Dr Kiweler.
“We are delighted to be able to support brilliant and promising young talents like Nicole. Our aim is to allow innovative bright minds to excel and generate meaningful research results that can tangibly improve patients’ health, whilst upholding LIH’s reputation as a leading international centre for translational research”, concludes Dr Frank Glod, LIH Chief of Scientific Operations.
Dr Kiweler’s project will be supervised and carried out in Dr Meiser’s Cancer Metabolism Group within the LIH Department of Oncology. In order to validate the in vitro findings in in vivo models, the study will leverage on internal collaborations with Prof Dirk Brenner’s Experimental and Molecular Immunology group at the LIH Department of Infection and Immunity (DII), as well as external collaborations with Dr Elisabeth Letellier’s group within the Life Sciences Research Unit of the University of Luxembourg.