Published: 18-06-2012 00:00 | Updated: 18-02-2014 14:16

Cancer research rewarded by Skandia

Karolinska Institutet's Skandia Lennart Levi Prize is to be presented this year to Professor Thomas Helleday for his researches in the field of cancer.

Thomas Helleday was the first to scientifically demonstrate the concept called "synthetic lethality" for treating cancer. He proved that PARP inhibitors can selectively kill certain cancer cells without damaging surrounding healthy cells, which was a major breakthrough for the clinical treatment of mutated breast and ovarian cancers. Synthetic lethality can also be used to devise strategies to attack cancer.

"The single most significant aspect of Dr. Helleday's research is his ability to translate basic science findings into novel clinical trials for patient benefit," says panel chairperson Professor Nancy Pedersen. "Today, hundreds of cancer patients have received new treatments based on concepts he developed in his laboratory, which is a very significant achievement for a young academic researcher."

Professor Thomas Helleday has established himself as an internationally recognized scientific leader within cancer research. Already by the age of 35 he had been installed as professor at Stockholm University, the University of Sheffield and the University of Oxford. He has been called to the Söderberg Jubilee Chair in Translational Medicine at Karolinska Institutet, based on a very large donation made by the Torsten and Ragnar Söderberg foundations in 2010 to mark KI's 200th jubilee.

"In addition to his scientific acumen, Professor Helleday is a very good communicator, capable of presenting complex data in a simple and amenable manner. Moreover, he is a very effective teacher and an excellent mentor for his students and postdoctoral fellows," says Professor Pedersen.

The Skandia Lennart Levi prize was founded in 2010 to mark Lennart Levi's 80th birthday and will be awarded annually for a period of five years. Candidates must be internationally outstanding researchers active in Sweden or elsewhere. Prize winners are selected by a panel comprising professors from Karolinska Institutet. The prize of SEK 100,000 will be awarded at Karolinska Institutet's installation ceremony in the Berwald Hall on 30 October 2012.