Ernst Jung Career Advancement Award for Medical Research 2014: Laureate Dr. Thomas Schmidt

Degree in human medicine at the Ruprecht-Karls-University in Heidelberg completed in record time, two doctorates at Harvard and Leuven, study and research trips in the USA and Belgium – Dr. Thomas Schmidt has achieved a lot in a short amount of time in his 34 years of life.

This may be due to the fact that he has two things to motivate him: the courage to face and a sense of enjoyment in taking on and mastering particularly difficult professional challenges on the one hand – and on the other hand the desire to develop treatment methods for stages of cancer that are currently incurable.

Since his return from Belgium, Dr. Schmidt has been active as a research associate and junior doctor at the clinic for general, visceral and transplantation surgery at the Heidelberg university hospital. Thanks to the Ernst Jung Career Advancement Award for Medical Research 2014, he will be able to continue and intensify his project "The role of angiogenesis and the metastasis microenvironment within colorectal metastases" for the next three years.

The scientist has a Spanish wife and likes to travel in his free time. He is particularly interested in the culinary culture of his wife's native country and olive growing.


Patient-orientated medicine – individualised treatments

Dr. Thomas Schmidt has devoted his time to a special clinical challenge: the treatment options for already metastatic tumour diseases.
He used the already available medical knowledge that intestinal cancer tumours are kept alive by vessels and that a treatment directed at combating the growth of blood vessels can help the affected patient as a starting point. While extensive research has been carried out in this field for the primary tumour, the exact effect in metastases is still unknown. We have also not yet discovered why there are differences between the effect on metastases in the intestine and metastases in the liver, for example.

Dr. Schmidt hopes to find the answers to these questions by researching the molecular and cellular mechanisms in the metastases themselves and in their microenvironment, thus providing a starting point for the development of new treatments. Dr. Schmidt believes that this could result in individualised and therefore extremely promising treatment options being developed. It is looking at the smallest molecular details of a disease which leads to what, according to Dr. Schmidt's ideal, must always be the main focus of human medicine: looking at the big picture and focusing on the patient as a whole.