PhD Student at CeMM, Kralovics Lab: 2008 – 2013

Thorsten Klampfl

If you are interested in medically oriented research, working on topics that are relevant for the clinic and for patients, CeMM is an excellent choice for a pre-doctoral career. I was part of CeMM’s PhD Program and never regretted my decision to join the institute. Of course, first and foremost one is based in a specific lab with a particular PI and a large part of what your PhD will be like is dependent on the relationships within that lab. But CeMM as an institute invests a lot in its PhD students. Each year the new students from different labs work closely together when seminars, courses, Journal Clubs and lab rotations have to be attended and social events are to be organized. The community grows naturally. Also scientifically, we were encouraged to think and work beyond the boundaries of our lab. Hierarchies are flat at CeMM, approaching the PIs is easy and people are open minded.

Discussing ideas and becoming inspired by my colleagues’ work was facilitated at weekly seminars, meetings, retreats, or simply over coffee at the institute’s roof terrace with a panoramic view over Vienna. In addition, CeMM offers an excellent research infrastructure. Being located in a brand new research building that offers the latest technologies for genomic and proteomic research it was possible to get first-hand experience using tools that are often out of (immediate) reach for many other PhD students.

The highlight of my PhD was, of course, when all of my hard work and experiments bared fruit and contributed to ground breaking findings. Making use of the possibilities at CeMM I had the privilege to identify novel mutations that contribute to specific blood cancers which we studied in Robert Kralovics’ lab. In an incredible group effort, with the selfless dedication of my fantastic colleagues in the lab and with the help of collaborators within and outside CeMM, we studied these mutations for their biological and clinical implications. The findings will contribute to a better diagnosis of the disease and will lay the foundation for development of new therapies. Just recently the paper describing this research was accepted for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine and it is said to represent a landmark paper for the understanding of the blood cancers we studied.

I had a great journey at CeMM and in particular in Robert Kralovics’ lab. Robert was a motivating, enthusiastic and kind boss. He gave me freedom to pursue some of my own interests, yet I still felt well guided. I am also thankful for all the people at CeMM who invested in my research and in me personally. The institute is a special place to work and I can really recommend joining it as a PhD student.

Current position: Postdoctoral research associate at University of Cambridge, UK

Key publications

  • Klampfl T, Gisslinger H, Harutyunyan AS, Nivarthi H, Rumi E, Milosevic JD, Them NC, Berg T, Gisslinger B, Pietra D, Chen D, Vladimer GI, Bagienski K, Milanesi C, Casetti IC, Sant'antonio E, Ferretti V, Elena C, Schischlik F, Cleary C, Six M, Schalling M, Schönegger A, Bock C, Malcovati L, Pascutto C, Superti-Furga G, Cazzola M, Kralovics R: Somatic Mutations of Calreticulin in Myeloproliferative Neoplasms. N Engl J Med. 2013 Dec 10. [Epub ahead of print]

  • Klampfl T, Milosevic JD, Puda A, Schönegger A, Bagienski K, Berg T, Harutyunyan AS, Gisslinger B, Rumi E, Malcovati L, Pietra D, Elena C, Della Porta MG, Pieri L, Guglielmelli P, Bock C, Doubek M, Dvorakova D, Suvajdzic N, Tomin D, Tosic N, Racil Z, Steurer M, Pavlovic S, Vannucchi AM, Cazzola M, Gisslinger H, Kralovics R: Complex patterns of chromosome 11 aberrations in myeloid malignancies target CBL, MLL, DDB1 and LMO2. PLoS One. 2013, 8(10):e77819.

  • Klampfl T, Harutyunyan A, Berg T, Gisslinger B, Schalling M, Bagienski K, Olcaydu D, Passamonti F, Rumi E, Pietra D, Jäger R, Pieri L, Guglielmelli P, Iacobucci I, Martinelli G, Cazzola M, Vannucchi AM, Gisslinger H, Kralovics R: Genome integrity of myeloproliferative neoplasms in chronic phase and during disease progression. Blood. 2011, 118(1):167-76.