The Roblon Prize: my first prize

Photo: Lars Horn / Baghuset

Each year, the Roblon foundation awards the Roblon Prize of 100,000 DKK (~16,500 USD), to a master thesis from Aalborg University acclaimed to fulfill the following:

“The thesis should be of highest quality and innovative. It should have a positive effect on the research field as well as the future research and career of the recipient, preferably in the North Jutland region.”

This year the recipient was me (!) for my thesis entitled “A differentiation dependent classification of diffuse large B-cell lymphomas by the NanoString technology” which I submitted this summer. In short, my thesis concerned the development of a gene expression assay on the NanoString technology [1], that can separate diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) into the so-called B-cell-associated gene signature (BAGS) subtypes which differs in survival and resistance to chemotherapy [2]. The NanoString technology is highly accurate and cheap compared to previous methods, and needed in order to facilitate the use of BAGS classification for clinical applications, as a novel routine tool for diagnostic and prognostic assessment as well as insight into intrinsic cancer biology.

Building the assay was a three-step process involving a training and validation dataset. First, I searched the training data bioinformatically for a set of genes with good discriminative properties between BAGS subtypes. Second, I trained a model using these genes to accurately predict BAGS subtypes in the training data. Thirdly, the set of genes and associated model (i.e. the assay) was applied on an independent validation cohort to test its predictive properties. Our preliminary results looks convincing and we are currently testing the clinical and biological differences between BAGS subtypes in an ongoing study of German DLBCL patients [3].

My most sincere and great thanks to the Roblon foundation for taking their time to evaluate my work and finding it good enough for the Roblon Prize. Great thanks also to my thesis supervisors Martin Bøgsted and Mads Albertsen for nominating me in the first place. As a young aspiring scientist, such acknowledgement and support really boosts one’s confidence! I feel more inspired than ever to dive heads-first into the unforgiving manic-depressive wonderful world of science.

Read more about the prize and the university annual celebration here.

References

  1. G. K. Geiss et al., “Direct multiplexed measurement of gene expression with color-coded probe pairs” Nat. Biotechnol., vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 317–325, 2008.
  2. Dybkær et al., “Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma classification system that associates normal B-cell subset phenotypes with prognosis” J. Clin. Oncol., vol. 33, no. 12, pp. 1379–1388, 2015.
  3. T. Y. Michaelsen et al., “B-Cell Differentiation Dependent Classification of Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma By the Nanostring Technology” Blood, vol. 130, no. Suppl 1, p. 3995, 2017.