Better cystic fibrosis treatment is Science Breakthrough of the Year

Falling Walls Foundation honours work of Prof. Dr. Marcus Mall

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Prof. Dr. Marcus A Mall – Klinik für Pädiatrie m.S. Pneumologie und Immunologie – Leitung

Berlin, 07.11.2022

The Falling Walls Foundation has honoured the research achievement of Prof. Dr. Marcus Mall of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin as Science Breakthrough of the Year 2022 in the field of life sciences. Together with his team and international partners, the director of the Clinic for Paediatrics with a focus on pneumology, immunology and intensive care medicine has succeeded in significantly improving the treatment of the still incurable hereditary disease cystic fibrosis through a new, causally effective therapeutic approach. Prof. Mall will present this scientific breakthrough at the Falling Walls Science Summit in Berlin on November 9.

Cystic fibrosis is one of the most common fatal hereditary diseases worldwide. The condition is diagnosed in about one in 2,500 to 3,000 children in the European-descended population. A genetic defect leads to progressive loss of lung function and respiratory distress in affected individuals, which still significantly reduces their life expectancy despite improved treatment of symptoms. Prof. Mall’s work has been instrumental in deciphering the disease mechanism of cystic fibrosis and developing the first highly effective, causally active therapy: Since August 2020, a combination of three so-called CFTR modulators has been available in Europe, which noticeably improves the lung function and quality of life of patients with the most common genetic defect F508del. This means that the therapy is suitable for almost 90 percent of people with cystic fibrosis. Since the beginning of 2022, the triple therapy can be used in children as young as 6 years old.

“The fact that we can now treat cystic fibrosis sufferers not only symptomatically, but also treat the underlying dysfunction, is a milestone in the treatment of this serious hereditary disease. I am very pleased that the jury of the Falling Walls Foundation has recognized this great advance,” emphasizes Prof. Mall. The lung expert also heads the Christiane Herzog Cystic Fibrosis Center at Charité. “My goal is to turn cystic fibrosis from a fatal disease into a treatable one. Currently, we are working toward being able to use the drug combination as early as possible in childhood to hopefully prevent even early damage to the lungs and other organs in the future.”

Prof. Dr. Heyo K. Kroemer, Chairman of the Board of Charité, congratulates the award winner: “I congratulate Prof. Mall on this award. His research has indeed led to an unprecedented breakthrough for cystic fibrosis patients and I am pleased that this has been recognized by the jury. Prof. Mall’s work is an excellent example of successful translation from the laboratory to the bedside.”

Prof. Mall will present advances in the treatment of cystic fibrosis on Wednesday, November 9, at the Falling Walls Science Summit, which is a hybrid event held as part of Berlin Science Week. Interested parties can engage directly with the award winner from 12:30 to 12:55 p.m. in the interactive “Breakthrough Conversations” format, and attend Prof. Mall’s lecture, given in English, online from 3:05 to 3:20 p.m. The online event is free of charge, registration is required.

The Falling Walls Foundation awards the title “Science Breakthrough of the Year” annually to one research project in each of the ten categories: life sciences, natural sciences, engineering and technology, social sciences and humanities, arts and science, learning the future, science and innovation management, science start-ups, science engagement, and emerging talents. In the life sciences, the award recognizes internationally renowned scientists who are leaders in their field and whose groundbreaking work is helping to solve the world’s greatest challenges – in other words, figuratively bringing down a wall in science and society. This year, the jury selected the winners from more than 1,000 projects submitted from 105 countries.

Short vita Prof. Dr. Marcus Mall

Marcus Mall studied medicine at the University of Freiburg and at University College London (UK). After completing his doctorate, he conducted research at the Cystic Fibrosis/Pulmonary Research and Treatment Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA) before moving to the Center for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at Heidelberg University Hospital in 2004. There he established the EU-funded junior research group “Cystic Fibrosis/Chronic Respiratory Disease” and was awarded his habilitation in 2007. In the same year, the specialist in pediatrics and adolescent medicine took over the management of the Cystic Fibrosis Center. From 2012, he worked at Heidelberg University Hospital as director of the Center for Translational Lung Research (TLRC) and the Department of Translational Pneumology, before being appointed to the professorship of Pediatric Pneumology and Immunology by the Charité together with the Einstein Foundation Berlin and the Berlin Institute of Health at the Charité (BIH) in 2018. This is associated with the direction of the Clinic for Pediatrics with a focus on pneumology, immunology and intensive care medicine as well as the Pediatric Emergency Department and the Christiane Herzog Cystic Fibrosis Center at Charité. Prof. Mall is one of the founding directors of the German Center for Lung Research (DZL), coordinator of the Berlin site of the new German Center for Child and Adolescent Health (DZKJ) since 2021, and deputy spokesperson of the newly established Collaborative Research Center 1449 “Dynamic Hydrogels on Biological Interfaces”. He has received numerous research awards, including a Heisenberg Professorship in Translational Paediatric Pneumology from the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Falling Walls Science Summit

The Falling Walls Science Summit is an interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral forum for the world’s leading scientists with a focus on scientific breakthroughs. The Summit is held annually in Berlin from November 7-9. The event is organized by the Falling Walls Foundation. The non-profit foundation was inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9, 1989, and the dawn of a new era of freedom. It promotes ground-breaking thinking and is building a growing network of leaders from academia, business, and the public sector to tackle grand challenges and make ground-breaking ideas accessible to society.


Registrierung für den Vortrag von Prof. Mall
Registrierung für Breakthrough Conversations mit Prof. Mall
Prof. Mall erklärt den wissenschaftlichen Durchbruch im Video
Verkündung der Science Breakthroughs of the Year (Pressemitteilung der Falling Walls Foundation v. 13.09.2022)
Mukoviszidose: Betroffene können schon im Kindesalter ursächlich behandelt werden (PM v. 08.08.2022)
Mukoviszidose: Immer mehr Erkrankten kann geholfen werden (PM v. 26.08.2021)
Hochwirksame Kombinationstherapie bei Mukoviszidose (PM v. 06.11.2019)
Marcus Mall stärkt translationale Lungenforschung in Berlin (PM v. 07.02.2018)