As head of the research group for Immunological Diagnostics at St. Anna Children's Cancer Research Institute (St. Anna CCRI), deputy medical director and senior consultant of the Department of Oncology and Hematology at St. Anna Children's Hospital, Michael Dworzak is aware of the dire need of innovative diagnostic and treatment options for leukemia in children and adolescents in the clinics and he knows first-hand where research efforts are necessary to cover these needs.
From research into practice
Since its foundation in 1993, Michael Dworzak's research group has been dedicated to the characterization of leukemias and lymphomas in children using immunophenotyping. By means of multi-color analysis in flow cytometry, this method examines blood and bone marrow samples. Cell suspensions are provided with various defined antibodies that bind specifically to different cells, which are then illuminated in a flow chamber using laser light. Depending on the cell type, a characteristic light reflection pattern is created, which enables precise detection and diagnosis (minimal residual disease, MRD) in malignant blood cancer.
"Our goal is to develop new and better flow cytometric methods that can be used clinically for refined diagnosis as well as for risk assessment and therapy planning," explains Dworzak, wo is currently focusing on the second most common and very aggressive form of blood cancer in childhood and adolescence, acute myeloid leukemia (AML). If this malignant disease relapses, the chances of survival are significantly worse than with the more common form of leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). "The earlier we detect recurrent cancer cells in AML, the faster we can intervene therapeutically and the higher the chances of survival are for the affected children," says Dworzak.
International Top Expert
Expertscape – an impartial ranking platform in the field of biomedicine – now lists Michael Dworzak in the top 0.2% of over 200,000 experts in leukemia worldwide, number 1 in Austria for children and adolescents with leukemia. This assessment is based on Michael Dworzak's contribution to 75 publications in high-ranking international scientific journals between 2011 and the present day.
"I am very pleased about this award because it shows how successful a close link between research and clinic can be and what improvements can be achieved for patients with leukemia in treatment. Cross-border cooperation in international networks and across institutes are essential because such success can only be achieved in an international scientific and clinical joint effort," explains Dworzak.
About Michael Dworzak
Univ.-Doz. Dr. Michael N. Dworzak is deputy medical director of the St. Anna Children's Hospital in Vienna and senior consultant of the Department of Pediatric Oncology and Hematology. He is also Chairman of the Austrian Pediatric AML-BFM study group, co-chair of the international AML-BFM study group and head of the Laboratory for Immunodiagnostics of St. Anna Kinderkrebsforschung und Labdia Labordiagnostik GmbH. This laboratory is the national reference center for immunophenotyping and flow cytometry analyses of minimal residual disease (FLOW-MRD) in pediatric leukemia in Austria. Dworzak also coordinates several international study groups and networks. Among one of his greatest successes is the research, clinical validation, and international dissemination of innovative, groundbreaking technologies for the accurate assessment of therapy response in childhood leukemia using FLOW-MRD. This eventually led to the integration of FLOW-MRD into international clinical treatment protocols for the purpose of more accurate, personalized therapy control.