The 2016 Georges Mathé Prize recognizes research on the immunological determinants of the response to breast cancer treatment


Created in 2011 by the Institut du Cancer et d’Immunogénétique (ICIG) and sponsored by the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO), the Georges Mathé Prize promotes therapeutic advances and translational research in medical oncology and immunotherapy, honoring the early bench-bedside-bench studies pioneered by Professor Georges Mathé. Bestowed by a jury composed of international scientists, the 35.000 Euro prize is awarded to an outstanding young physician/scientist to enable him/her to pursue a career in translational cancer research.


This year, the prize will support a research project aiming at better understanding the immunological determinants of treatment response in breast cancer, at various stages of the disease (before surgery i.e. neo-adjuvant, post surgery i.e. adjuvant, metastatic). Tumor-host interactions are recognized to be of a fundamental importance in cancer development, in particular the tumor’s capability to induce an immunosuppressive environment and evade the host’s immune response by the mobilization of various mechanisms. The aim of the project will be to evaluate the relevance of several immunological markers (Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes, Tumor Associated Macrophages, PD-L1 expression, etc.) in predicting the response to treatment, and to develop an immune-related gene signature predictive of the response. This work will take place at the prestigious Karolinska Institutet under the supervision of Professor Theodoros Foukakis.


Professor Dimitrios Mavroudis, Head of the Medical Oncology department at Heraklion University Hospital, was thrilled by the award of the Prize to Alexios Matikas: “Alexios is an outstanding fellow with admirable knowledge. He has already authored many publications. He is also a fine clinician dedicated to his patients.”. Dr Matikas shared his pride and thankfulness: “I feel very lucky to be able to continue my research at a prestigious center such as the Karolinksa Institutet under the guidance Professor Foukakis, and I thank the ESMO and the Georges Mathé Prize sponsors”.


By funding translational research into the immunological determinants of the response to cancer therapy, the 2016 Georges Mathé Prize gives praise to the visionary works of Professor Georges Mathé, the pioneer of cancer immunotherapy, adoptive immunotherapy with the first-ever bone marrow graft to treat a leukemia patient and the development of the « Graft vs. Leukemia » concept, and active immunotherapy by stimulation of the patient’s immune system, in particular with BCG therapy, still the gold standard today for the management of early-stage bladder cancer. Georges Mathé was convinced that the activation of the immune system against the tumor was the only way to eliminate “the last tumor cell”, and the recent successes obtained by immunotherapy in melanoma seem to prove him right, more than fifty years after his pioneering works.


The Georges Mathé Prize: at the heart of ESMO


Georges Mathé, the French pioneer in oncology and first to successfully achieve with his team a bone marrow transplant to treat leukemia, played a key role in the creation of ESMO, serving as the very first President of the Society. ESMO pays him an annual tribute by sponsoring the Georges Mathé Prize, which is now awarded as part of its annual congress. ESMO recognition gives the Prize a major visibility.


The Prize is made possible by the financial support of the Institut du Cancer et d’Immunogénétique (ICIG) and the pharmaceutical companies Ipsen and the Debiopharm Group

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