A "jubilee grant" of the Helmut Horten Foundation awarded for research against lymphoma

(L to R) (da sin.) Davide Rossi (IOR), Davide Robbiani (IRB), Thorsten Zens (UZH), Markus Fellner and Alain Robert (Helmut Horten Foundation)
(L to R) (da sin.) Davide Rossi (IOR), Davide Robbiani (IRB), Thorsten Zens (UZH), Markus Fellner and Alain Robert (Helmut Horten Foundation)

Institutional Communication Service

4 November 2021

On October 22, 2021, the Helmut Horten Foundation celebrated its 50th anniversary with a ceremony held at ETH Zurich. On this occasion, researchers Davide Rossi at the Institute of Oncology Research (IOR) and Davide Robbiani at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), together with Thorsten Zenz at the University of Zurich, were awarded a "jubilee grant" of 1 million euros. The special grant was awarded to support a joint project on rare lymphomas that will involve researchers from IOR and IRB (both afiliated to USI Università della Svizzera italiana) and the LOOP (a translational research center of ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich). The project is about "Personalised medicine of Lymphoma" and aims at identifying novel targeted precision treatments for lymphoma patients.

The incidence of lymphoma has gradually increased over the past years, ranking among the ten most prevalent cancers worldwide. Annually, over 1.100 patients die from leukemia and lymphoma in Switzerland. Despite a subset of lymphoma patients has become curable thanks to the development of targeted therapeutic strategies, the treatment of patients non-responding to therapies and with relapse diseases remains challenging. Therefore, there is a major need to optimise treatment selection for patients with blood cancer. The new strategies for lymphoma therapy rely on a combination of approaches that target both tumor cells and the surrounding environment that supports them. In this project, a detailed map of cellular responses to drugs will be implemented and used to identify innovative precision treatments for patients with lymphoma.

IOR, IRB and the Helmut Horten Foundation 

Since the early 2000s, the IOR has been dedicated to oncology research, while the IRB has mainly focused on research in the field of immunology. Recent discoveries straddling the two disciplines have highlighted the potential for synergies between the two institutes, leading to the creation of the association Bios+ (Bellinzona Institutes of Science).

The Helmut Horten Foundation is based in Ticino and aims at promoting medical innovation through grants to medical centers, hospitals, and other institutions within the healthcare system. The Foundation has been a core funder of the IRB for over 20 years, also supporting several research projects of IRB and IOR and contributing to the construction of the brand-new research building that will host in Bellinzona all of the the IRB and IOR scientists, as well as the laboratories of translational research of the cantonal hospital in Ticino (EOC).