The University of Oslo writes the following about the prize winner:
Professor Kjetil Taskén is awarded the innovation prize for his work on building a national network for precision diagnostics in cancer (Infrastructure for precision diagnostics, InPreD). In 2018, Norwegian cancer patients did not have public access to advanced molecular cancer diagnostics with treatment options that use a precision medicine approach. Precision medicine, or personalized medicine, tries to find treatment that is adapted to the individual patient. The work led by Taskén has contributed to the fact that there today is a public national cancer diagnosis initiative (InPreD) and a national clinical trial (IMPRESS-Norway). Kjetil Taskén led the work investigating what had to be implemented to introduce precision medicine in Norway. The method used to obtain public access to advanced molecular cancer diagnostics was a coordination of various specialist environments on a national level. This coordination is a great success and has triggered significant funding. Furthermore, the way this has been resolved in Norway has generated considerable international interest.
Kjetil Taskén is grateful for the recognition, but emphasizes that the development of precision cancer medicine in Norway is the result of a team effort.
“This is a prize to everybody who has been involved in building a national initiative for implementation of precision medicine in cancer”, says Taskén after UiO announced the award winners.
In addition to the innovation prize, UiO is handing out four other prize for research, education, dissemination as well as a prize to a young researcher. More information about the 2023 prize winners (in Norwegian only).
“We are highlighting UiO's very best researchers, communicators and teachers through these awards. This year's five award winners show that long-term, targeted and hard work contributes to increased competence and knowledge which benefits all of us", says UiO rector Svein Stølen.
Åslaug Helland, head of IMPRESS-Norway and recent winner of this year's King Olav V's cancer research prize, has worked closely with Kjetil Taskén for a number of years and is very happy that Taskén is now being awarded the innovation prize.
“Kjetil has been instrumental in the implementation of precision cancer medicine in Norway, and we are very happy about this award! Over the recent years, diagnostics through InPreD has been established, the IMPRESS-Norway trial has included 1000 patients, and CONNECT is an important forum for interaction between public and private actors. Moreover, Taskén has contributed significantly to raise awareness internationally regarding the work done in Norway”, says Helland.
In the last couple of years, targeted work has been performed to implement precision cancer medicine at a national level in Norway, and a separate ecosystem has been funded and built up since 2019 to be able to offer cancer patients systematic use of molecular diagnostics and precision medicine, including:
An overview of the Norwegian precision cancer medicine initiatives was published in Nature Medicine in 2022: Taskén K. et al. Anational precision cancer medicine implementation initiative for Norway. Nat Med. (2022) DOI: 10.1038/s41591-022-01777-4
The extent of building a national initiative is illustrated by the fact that the most central contributors are included as co-authors on the publication, amounting to a total of 117 co-authors.
Kjetil Taskén is head of Institute for Cancer Research at the Oslo University Hospital and Professor at Institute for Clinical Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine, UiO. In addition, he is the Vice President and Head of the Natural Sciences Division of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Finally, Taskén is heading his own research group in cell signalling and immune regulation.