March 2023 —
As part of an international event series, the Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) organises the Klaus Betke Symposium every two years to draw attention to the importance of rare diseases and personalized therapies in childhood. The symposium is dedicated to Prof. Klaus Betke, who was a pediatrician, scientist and former director of Dr. von Hauner’s Children’s Hospital as well as the doyen of pediatric hematology.
After a long break the event could finally take place again on March 10 and 11, 2023. The focus of this year’s event was research for children with rare bone marrow diseases. The setting of the event provided an interdisciplinary platform for cutting-edge topics in pediatric medicine.
The event primarily targeted clinician-scientists as well as scientists in the fields of cell and molecular biology and data science. International speakers discussed their recent contributions to single-cell analysis of hematopoietic cells and new model systems for studying the differentiation of blood and immune cells. Big data processing and interpretation is also a key topic for individualized precision diagnostics as well as the development of personalized therapies and was therefore covered in detail.
On the topic of „Congenital defects of bone marrow function – new insights from single cell analysis“, we heard a string of fascinating lectures with the latest research findings, some of which have not yet been published, given by top-class and internationally leading scientists, all of them pioneers in their respective fields.
Topics such as hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow niche, the development of leukemia, the modeling of rare diseases of the bone marrow using so-called organoids, as well as the Human Developmental Cell Atlas project and the importance of artificial intelligence in the clinical diagnosis of hematological diseases were also considered and discussed. The Klaus Betke Symposium thus provided „high-profile presentations in close succession in a fireworks display of the most exciting science,“ as one participant in the event put it.
In the evening, the August von Hauner Medal for special achievements in pediatric hematology was awarded to Prof. Charlotte Niemeyer from the Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg for her work on research into myelodysplastic syndrome in childhood. Her tireless commitment to young scientists and her encouragement to keep initiating and contributing new ideas and food for thought to improve the situation of children with hematological diseases – even across borders – was emphasized in the laudatory speech by Prof. Christoph Klein.
The second day was characterized by insights into the scientific and clinical everyday life of our international partner institutes of our global Care-for-Rare Alliance. Experts from the field of rare pediatric bone marrow diseases as well as hematologists and immunologists from all over the world came to Munich to develop new perspectives of a science that goes beyond national borders.
Children with rare diseases depend on global networks. On the one hand, research into their diseases is important so that new precise diagnostic methods can be developed; on the other hand, an understanding of these rare diseases is of great importance for new precision medicine strategies – both for rare diseases and for common diseases such as leukemias.
The conference met with exceptionally high interest; with 150 participants from 14 different countries, the lecture hall of the Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital was very well attended. Munich thus once again became visible in a national and international perspective as a „hub“ of biomedicine for children and adults with diseases of the blood.