Meet the Researcher: Christian Hirt – PHRT


Meet the Researcher: Christian Hirt

Christian Hirt

MD. PhD.

  • Institution:
    ETH Zurich / BIDMC Harvard Medical School Boston
  • Project:
    High Throughput Personalized Treatment Screening for Pancreatic Cancer Patients (Transition Postdoc Fellowship Project, 2018)

  • Follow Christian on Twitter: @HirtChristian

Please describe your PHRT project

Christian: In this study we explore the potential of screening a large panel of FDA approved drugs for effective new treatment combinations in pancreatic cancer. We expect that we will be able to validate hits from our screen in our patient-derived organoid biobank and to use this FDA-approved drug in a preclinical trial for pancreatic cancer upon the end of the project. Additionally, the mutational and/or gene expression profile of responders in organoids would help to identify suitable patients in the clinics.

What are the biggest challenges of your project?

Christian: The biggest challenge for us is to perform the preclinical studies necessary to translate our findings to the clinics. We identified promising hits, which showed efficiency as single agents. It remains to be shown that they are effective at an advanced clinical stage, where standard compounds show resistance. Unfortunately, current in-vivo models can only partially represent those later stages.

What are you most proud of regarding the PHRT project?

Christian: The establishment of a consortium of preclinical and clinical researchers, which allowed to generate a biobank of pancreatic cancer models. This resource helped us to identify compounds, which were effective both in vitro and in vivo, confirming the translational potential of organoids.

What do you like the most about working in an ETH Domain research group?

Christian: The interaction with top researchers from different fields and the up-to-date technologies. The availability of these resources either on the campus or in the larger ETH family allows to advance projects at a faster speed and with greater impact.

What do you dream to achieve in research one day?

Christian: That results from our studies will be translated into clinical studies, which help to improve patient care and ultimately lead to alternative treatment options for patient at advanced stages.

Picture of Rahel Hefti
Rahel Hefti

Communications Specialist