Rent A Scientist – Insights into Today’s Cancer Research: From Patient Samples to Treatment

As part of this year’s “Rent-a-Scientist” program by the KielRegion, researchers from the CATCH ALL research group visited three schools in Rendsburg and Kronshagen to present their work in leukemia research. Rent-a-Scientist is an offer within the Festival for Science framework, in which schools in and around Kiel can invite scientists from various research fields to conduct a school lesson and talk about their research topic. The project is funded by the European Union as part of the HORIZON EUROPE program for research and innovation.

Dr. Sophie Steinhäuser and Dr. Alina M. Hartmann, postdocs at the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), presented their research work in the CATCH ALL research group in two teaching units at the Berufsbildungszentrum Rendsburg and the Gymnasium Kronshagen. In an interactive introduction, the 11th grade students got an impression of how healthy and leukemia blood samples differ under the microscope and learned about the characteristics of acute leukemia. The students also learned which stages a blood sample undergoes from laboratory to data analysis and which methods can be used to determine gene activity in a cancer cell. This allows the identification of molecular differences between different cancer subtypes that are not visible under the microscope but are very important for therapy response. Additional focus was on the bioinformatic analysis of the data obtained, e.g. with the help of artificial intelligence, in order to gain new scientific insights and thus find the best treatment for each individual patient.

Dr. Alina Hartmann & Dr. Sophie Steinhäuser explain the way of a patient sample from the laboratory to bioinformatics data analysis. (c) XX

At the Gymnasium Kronwerk in Rendsburg, Dr. Steinhäuser and Dr. Hartmann also gave a lecture for the entire 9th and 10th grade classes as part of the school’s 50th anniversary. Meeting female researchers not only gave the students an insight into the everyday life of a scientist, but also provided them with information about various career opportunities in research as valuable help on their later career path. “Rent-a-Scientist is an important initiative to bring together schools and scientists. I greatly enjoyed the enthusiastic students”, states Alina Hartmann. Sophie Steinhäuser adds: “This event is a great way to present our research to a completely different audience. I especially enjoyed the student’s curiosity and intriguing questions.”

The Clinical Research Unit “CATCH ALL – towards a cure for all adults and children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)” is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and embedded in the University Cancer Center Schleswig-Holstein (UCCSH) and the Kiel Oncology Network (KON). Within the CATCH ALL, an interdisciplinary team of clinicians and basic scientists is researching the molecular and immunological mechanisms driving leukemia persistence in ALL patients across all age groups with the goal to explore novel approaches for improved precision therapies.

For further information on Rent-a-Scientist, visit their website.

Text: Dr. Sophie Steinhäuser

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