Josephine Kahn graduated on 21 January with her search for DNA mutations that make leukemia cells chemo-resistant. With knowledge about these mutations and their effects in the cell, she started looking for new targeted therapies that affect these cellular processes.
But she had a second question: how is it that chemotherapy, even years after treatment, can cause a new form of blood cancer?
To her surprise, Josephine Kahn discovered that mutations in the PPM1D gene do not only cause chemotherapy resistance but most probably also increase the risk of getting therapy-related blood cancer.
She identified a new targeted therapy to selectively kill those mutated cells. This could not only be used to treat chemotherapy-resistant leukemia but perhaps also to prevent the development of therapy-related cancer.
Josephine Kahn is the first researcher to have been awarded a PhD in the NWO-funded Diamond Program from the Oncology Graduate School Amsterdam (OOA). This is the joint graduate school of oncology for Amsterdam UMC and the Netherlands Cancer Institute. Around 800 PhD students are being trained at the OOA.
This article from her dissertation was chosen in December 2018 as one of the 10 best articles of 2018 by the scientific journal Blood. The editors of Blood explain why.