Sigrid Skånland, project leader at Institute for Cancer Research at Oslo University Hospital, is awarded the prize Researcher of the Year 2023. The award of 100,000 NOK is financed by the Radium Hospital Foundation.
Skånland is awarded the prize for her efforts to develop and implement precision medicine for patients with blood cancer.
“To avoid serious side effects and treatment that has limited effect, it is necessary to better understand the mechanisms that underlie these conditions. In our research, we aim to identify markers in the patients’ cancer cells that can say something about how the patient will respond to a given treatment, before the treatment is initiated”, says Skånland.
To identify biomarkers that can guide precision medicine, it is necessary to analyze both patient data, genomic data, and functional data. This requires interdisciplinary collaborations. Skånland coordinates an EU-funded consortium with partners from six countries in Europe. Both clinicians, biologists, mathematicians, and health economists are represented. The aim of this collaboration is to tailor the treatment of patients with the blood cancer chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
“Because CLL is a heterogeneous disease and we work with very complex data, it is necessary to collaborate across disciplines. We use machine learning to identify patterns in the data, and it is likely that artificial intelligence will be helpful in future cancer care”, says Skånland.
The leadership at ICR highlights the fact that Skånland has established an independent international research profile in the field of functional precision medicine. She is project leader for several studies, and this important work has led to several articles in high profile journals with Skånland as last author.
“Skånland is a worthy winner of this year's research award. She has demonstrated the ability and willingness to build an international research profile through several stays abroad in high-profile research groups and initiating several innovative research projects. It is particularly her ability to transfer preclinical research results into clinical trial to test potential patient benefit that impresses the leadership team. “ tells Professor Johanna Olweus on behalf of the leadership team at Institute for Cancer Research.
Skånland’s efforts to develop precision medicine has been fruitful – patients with CLL are now offered personalized treatment in the national clinical trial IMPRESS-Norway. Patients with relapsed disease may have a drug test performed on their cancer cells and can receive experimental treatment on the trial if the test is positive.
"I am very thankful to be awarded with this prize, and to everyone who contributes to moving the research forward! The prize will be spent on our continued work to offer the right treatment to the right patient at the right time."
The award was distributed during a ceremony at the Institute for Cancer Research on December 6th.
News article in Dagens Medisin:
Vant pris for sitt arbeid med presisjonsmedisin for blodkreftpasienter (06.12.2023)
More photos from the ceremony (photos: Elisa Bjørgo)