The Nicola Werner Research Award is dedicated to the research in the areas of virology, immunology and prevention of cancerous diseases.

The award is intended to reward young researches at the Institute Gustave Roussy (IGR) in Paris and the Deutsche Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ) in Heidelberg for their works in the domain of HPV .

The award is funded by the proceeds of the sale of reproductions, contributions from exhibitions and the fundraising activities of the "Nicola Werner Challenge".

Prof. Dr. med. Michael Baumann Vorstandsvorsitz DKFZ: 

„Wir müssen das enorme Potential der Krebsprävention noch viel besser ausschöpfen; von daher begrüßen wir die Aktivitäten der Association Nicola Werner, die sich die HPV-Prävention verschrieben hat, sehr. Schließlich ist die beste Krebstherapie, die Entstehung von Krebs zu verhindern."

Dr Alexandra Leary, Cancérologue, Institute Gustave Roussy:

Le cancer du col de l’utérus est encore malheureusement un cancer peu médiatisé et donc peu connu du grand public ce qui nuit à sa prévention.

La principale cause du cancer du col de l’utérus est virale, il s’agit du virus HPV – papillomavirus humain. Ce virus se transmet par contact sexuel.

70 à 80 % des femmes sont infectées au moins une fois dans leur vie. La plupart du temps, le virus disparaît spontanément. Mais, chez 10% des femmes infectées, le virus persiste pendant plusieurs années au niveau de la muqueuse du col de l’utérus et peut alors provoquer des lésions précancéreuses, susceptibles d’évoluer vers un cancer.

La mobilisation du grand public est indispensable pour améliorer la prévention de ce cancer et accélérer l’innovation pour sauver plus de patientes et avec moins de séquelles. Merci de votre soutien

Cyrus Chargari

IGR 2018

"This is a great honor to receive the Nicola Werner Research Award. Among various cancers related to HPV infection, locally advanced cervical cancers remain a major cause of death. Despite therapeutic advances, the prognosis of patients with advanced disease remains to be clearly improved and up to 30-40 % of patients still experience tumor recurrence despite standard approach based on chemoradiation and brachytherapy. The award will support our translational research and help us to test the possibility to increase cures rates in these patients by addition of radiosensitizing gadolinium-based nanoparticles to standard treatment in a phase I study. The possibility to guide tumor delineation will be also assessed.”

Julia Butt

DKFZ 2018

Serologic response to Helicobacter pylori proteins associated with risk of colorectal cancer among diverse populations in the United States

"I am flattered to receive the Nicola Werner Research Award that is dedicated to research in the areas of virology, immunology and prevention of cancerous diseases. The possibility of preventing infection-related cancers by vaccination or eradication is a great achievement of research performed in this area, as can be seen in the example of vaccination against Human Papillomaviruses and cervical cancer, and which harbours a lot of potential for prevention of other infection-associated cancers. The award will support my stay as a postdoctoral researcher in the US at Duke University, where I will continue to work on the association of bacteria with colorectal cancer.” 

Meriem Massaoudene

IGR 2017

immunosurveillance in breast cancer

Daniel Hasche

DKFZ 2017

“Effect of UV irradiation on the development of Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer in the animal model Mastomys coucha”


Everyone is infected with skin-typical (cutaneous) human papillomaviruses (HPV) at some point, usually already in early childhood. In healthy people, the immune system can fight off the viruses, but this often changes in older age and recipients of organ transplants whose immune system is suppressed by long-term drug therapy are particularly at risk. Ultraviolet radiation is generally known to be a major risk factor for skin cancer which occurs primarily on sun-exposed sites of the body and also due to changed behavior of the people case numbers of non-melanoma skin cancer continue to rise. In addition, certain types of human papillomaviruses (HPV) were suspected to play a role, but clues to prove this have been insufficient to date.

This study for the first time could provide this evidence using a specific mouse species (Mastomys coucha), that is infected with a cutaneous papillomavirus shortly after birth, like humans. The animals were exposed to doses of UV radiation that can be expected during a vacation in Mediterranean regions. Subsequently, only virus-infected animals developed non-melanoma skin cancer (squamous cell carcinomas) while the virus-free control animals did not. A group of tumors that was keratinizing contained large amounts of viruses – a situation that is also found in precursors of cancer (so-called "actinic keratosis") in humans, where cells of the upper skin layers have started to grow excessively while still resembling the original structure of the skin. Here, the virus affects the stability of the host cell DNA and promote the accumulation of UV damages. By contrast, and like in patients with advanced carcinomas, the second group of tumors did not contain viruses. However, antibodies in the blood revealed a preceding virus infection. These tumors exhibited a striking rate of mutations in the p53 gene, which is crucially important for the cell and is regarded the "guardian of the genome". This gene is also defective in many cases of human skin cancer, leading to uncontrolled cellular growth. When cell growth is already out of control, the virus is no longer needed for the maintenance of the tumor and furthermore, it is prevented from replicating further. The loss of viruses in advanced carcinomas was a major argument against a role of cutaneous papillomaviruses in the development of skin cancer. This study showed for the first time that the amount of viruses is linked to the differentiation of the tumor. These findings are an important argument in favor of developing vaccines against cutaneous papillomaviruses.

IGR 2016

for her multiyear works in the area of immunology

DKFZ 2016

„Identification and functional analysis of the antigen processing machinery component ERAP1as a possible novel immune evasion mechanism of HPV-induced malignancies“

Immune evasion of tumors poses a major challenge for immunotherapy. For human papillomavirus (HPV)-induced malignancies, multiple immune evasion mechanisms have been described, including altered expression of antigen processing machinery (APM) components.

In this study, one component of the APM, the endoplasmic reticulum aminopeptidase 1 (ERAP1), was also found to be overexpressed in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and cervical cancer samples. The effect of ERAP1 expression levels on HPV16 T cell epitope presentation was investigated. An influence of ERAP1 overexpression on the presentation levels of certain HPV16 epitopes could be demonstrated by HPV16-specific CD8 T cells. ERAP1 overexpression may thus represent a novel immune evasion mechanism in HPV-induced malignancies, in cases when presentation of clinically relevant epitopes is reduced by overactivity of this peptidase.

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