November 2016

FASEB Liver Meeting Review 2016

Meeting Report:

FASEB Liver Biology: Fundamental Mechanisms and Translational Applications
Reviewed by Kathryn Bambino ( and Shuang (Sammi) Wang ( – Post-doctoral fellows with Kirsten Sadler.

The FASEB Liver Biology: Fundamental Mechanisms and Translational Applications conference, which took place in West Palm Beach, Florida from June 26-July 1, 2016 brought together researchers who study the basic mechanisms of liver physiology and disease from around the world. As an established, albeit newer, model to study liver development and disease, zebrafish research was well represented at this meeting. Zebrafish researchers Kirsten Sadler (New York University Abu Dhabi) and Wolfram Goessling (Harvard Medical School) were invited to give talks on recent findings from their laboratories that provide new insight into the molecular mechanisms of hepatocellular carcinogenesis. Many posters presented groundbreaking research on liver and biliary development and on liver disease by researchers from the several zebrafish laboratories in attendance, including the Goessling (Harvard University), Ober (University of Copenhagen), Pack (University of Pennsylvania), Sadler (New York University – Abu Dhabi), Sakaguchi (Cleveland Clinic), Shin (University of Pittsburgh), and Yin (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital) laboratories. The next FASEB Liver Biology meeting will take place in two years and will be, for the first time, co-organized by a fellow zebrafish researcher – Kirsten Sadler. We look forward to seeing more exciting zebrafish research at the next meeting!

PRESS RELEASE: Swiss Bridge Award goes to ZDMS Members Dr. Alexa Burger and Prof. Christian Mosimann with 250,000 Swiss Franks




One million Swiss francs for four research projects on rare cancers


Thun, 26.10. 2016 – This year’s Swiss Bridge Award goes to two researchers from Belgium and two researchers from Switzerland. Jan Cools, Pieter Van Vlierberghe, Christian Mosimann and Sara Meyer each receive 250 000 Swiss francs for the realization of their research projects.


The Swiss Bridge Foundation has doubled the award sum this year on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. This year, the award is dedicated to the study of rare cancers. These diseases affect less than six out of 100 000 people – and not only are they insufficiently researched, but they are often also difficult to treat.

An overall total of 226 researchers applied for the Swiss Bridge Award with their own project proposals. A thirteen-member jury consisting of renowned experts implemented a two-step evaluation procedure. Their final decision was made to distinguish two research projects from Belgium, as well as two projects from Switzerland; with 250 000 Swiss francs awarded to each project. The awards ceremony shall take place today in the Schadau Castle, Thun.


Analysis of Disease-relevant Processes

 Both projects from Belgium are focussing on acute lymphoblastic leukaemia from T- cells, the so-called T-ALL, a rare form of leukaemia. There has been significant progress made in T-ALL treatment over the last 50 years. Today approximately eight out of ten people, most of whom are young patients, can be successfully treated.

However, still twenty percent of leukaemia cases in children, as well as many older patients have bleak prospects. Jan Cools and his research team at the University of Leuven aim to identify new treatment approaches through an in-depth analysis of the various disease-relevant processes within degenerated T-cells.

The team led by Pieter Van Vlierberghe at Ghent University is interested first and foremost in epigenetic processes that play a role in the formation and development of blood cancer cells. These researchers have recently shown that the survival of leukemic cells can be prevented by targeting a protein known as LSD1 with an active substance. This protein affects the packaging density of the genetic material in the cell nucleus, and thus, which genes are transcribed. With his new project, Van Vlierberghe builds upon previous results and explores the therapeutic potential of LSD1 inhibitors.



Similarities between Human Beings and Zebra Fish

 In Switzerland, the project from Christian Mosimann and his group at the University of Zurich has raced to the top. This team of researchers examines the molecular formation mechanisms of chordomas. These are rare and slow-growing tumours which develop from the vestiges of the so-called notochord – the embryonic predecessor of the spinal column. Mosimann’s team has found that the chordomas of zebra fish are quite similar to those of human beings in many aspects – and they would now like to use this animal model in a new project to decode the disease incidence and to identify possible therapeutic targets.

Last but not least, the project from Sara Meyer and her team at the University Hospital Basel is also among the winners of the Swiss Bridge Award. These researchers are tracking the processes to distinguish myeloproliferative neoplasms. These are rare, chronic diseases of the haematopoietic system which can degenerate into acute myeloid leukaemia. Meyer and her group have identified in previous work that the diseased cells exhibit redundant signalling pathways, which unfortunately lead to the often observed treatment failures. In their project, the researchers examine whether a treatment which simultaneously interrupts two complementary signalling pathways may be more effective.


The Swiss Bridge Foundation was founded 20 years ago upon the initiative of Mr. Thomas Hoepli, Swiss Bridge’s former Managing Director and current Foundation Board Member, with the support of the Swiss Cancer League. Its goal is to support qualitatively high grade research projects with the help of private donors and foundations in the fight against cancer. Since the Foundation’s inception, Swiss Bridge has received more than 30 Million Swiss francs in donations – so that research projects can be supported in Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.


 For More Information, Please Contact:


Information about the Foundation:

Mr. Thomas Hoepli Director

SWISS BRIDGE Foundation Tel. +41 (0)43 317 13 60

Information about Research Projects:

Dr. Rolf Marti

Head of Research, Innovation & Development Swiss Cancer League

Tel. +41 (0)31 389 91 45



Read more from the University of Zurich here:


Announcing 2017 KRAS Fellowship and KRAS Travel Scholarship Funding Opportunities

Awards available for researchers studying KRAS in pancreatic cancer. View in browser.

Marco Biancucci, PhD
Postdoctoral research fellow, Northwestern University – Chicago Campus
Recipient, 2016 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network – NCI Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research
KRAS Fellowship funded in memory of Samuel Stroum
Announcing 2017 KRAS Fellowship and KRAS Travel Scholarship Funding OpportunitiesDear RAS research community,

The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network have joined together again to further cutting-edge research on pancreatic cancer and KRAS that integrates with NCI’s RAS Initiative. For 2017, two types of awards are available.

Expanded! KRAS Fellowship
Amount: $100,000 | Duration: Two years
Supports a postdoctoral or clinical research fellow to conduct KRAS research that is directly relevant to pancreatic cancer with aims aligned with the RAS Initiative
Application deadline: October 27, 2016, Noon EDT

KRAS Travel Scholarship
Amount: Depending on need
Provides travel support to a researcher at any career stage, during or after the postdoctoral level, to visit FNLCR to pursue KRAS research that is directly relevant to pancreatic cancer with aims aligned with the RAS Initiative
Application deadline: Rolling


For questions about proposed projects and resources at FNLCR, please contact Dwight V. Nissley, PhD, Director, Cancer Research Technology Program, FNLCR:

For general questions about the award or our other funding opportunities, please contact:

The RAS Initiative
The National Cancer Institute’s RAS Initiative was launched in 2013 to deepen knowledge of several aspects of RAS genes – their protein products, role in cell signaling, and functions in health and disease – with the explicit goals of improving treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of the many human cancers driven by mutant RAS genes. The Initiative operates as a research hub based at the NCI Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) in Frederick, Maryland, with spokes reaching into all corners of the extramural research community. The RAS Initiative is led by Dr. Frank McCormick, a distinguished RAS investigator from the University of California, San Francisco, and is managed for NCI by Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is the national organization creating hope in a comprehensive way through research, patient support, community outreach and advocacy for a cure. The organization is leading the way to increase survival for people diagnosed with this devastating disease through a bold initiative – The Vision of Progress: Double Pancreatic Cancer Survival by 2020. To continue to accelerate progress, a goal to raise $200 million by 2020 has also been established to allow the organization to significantly increase its investment in research efforts. Together, we can Wage Hope and rewrite the future of pancreatic cancer.

Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research
8560 Progress Drive
Frederick, MD 21701
301-496-4345Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
1500 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 200
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

NYU Tandon Researchers Develop Robotic Platform for Behavior Research

NYU Tandon Researchers Develop Robotic Platform for Behavior Research

A team of researchers at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering have developed a robotic platform to assist in the study of freshwater fish behavior.

The researchers tested the robotic platform with zebrafish, a “highly versatile” freshwater fish that is “increasingly taking the place of more complex animals in behavioral studies,” according to a news release from the university. “Understanding their social behavior may help researchers explore mechanisms behind human disorders like anxiety, addiction, autism and schizophrenia.”

The researchers placed their robotic replica in a tank with live zebrafish and then measured the response of the zebrafish to the three-dimensional, moving replica, a two-dimensional moving replica, a static replica, a transparent replica and a static rod. The tests revealed that the zebrafish were attracted to the robotic replica that mimicked both the appearance and motion of a live zebrafish, and they lost that attraction when either of those characteristics differed.

In addition to making a discovery about the social behavior of zebrafish, the study “also significantly refined the robotic platform that enables consistent, repeatable tests with our live subjects,” said Maurizio Porfiri, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NYU Tandon and team lead on the research project.

Other members of the team that developed and tested the robotic platform include Tommaso Ruberto and Daniele Neri, researchers at NYU Tandon; Violet Mwaffo, a doctoral student; and Sukhgewanpreet Singh, an undergraduate student at the university.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Mitsui USA Foundation.

The researchers published their findings in a paper, “Zebrafish Response to a Robotic Replica in Three Dimensions,” in Royal Society Open Science.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at