Neurofibromatosis type 1, or NF1, is a genetic disorder that usually manifests itself during childhood with a variety of skin conditions and the development of tumors of the peripheral and central nervous system. Although it is not generally considered a fatal condition, people with NF1 can develop tumors called plexiform neurofibromas, which cause substantial morbidity. Those tumors can also become aggressive cancers called malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors. In addition, NF1 can manifest in every organ system and cause learning problems, high blood pressure, and curvature of the spine. There is currently no cure, although surgery is an option for tumors and some other conditions caused by NF1.
At its Neurofibromatosis Conference in June 2013, the Children’s Tumor Foundation honored NCI’s Brigitte Widemann, M.D., with its von Recklinghausen Award, in recognition of her contributions to neurofibromatosis research and treatment. Widemann, who has been with NCI since 1992, heads the Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Section in the Pediatric Oncology Branch of the Center for Cancer Research. Her contributions include the development of both novel methods of imaging of NF1 tumors and meaningful trial designs and endpoints for NF1 related tumors. In addition, she has built an active clinical trials program of targeted agents for NF1 at the NCI.
The award is named for Friedrich von Recklinghausen, a 19th century German pathologist, who characterized the tumors of NF1, which is still sometimes referred to as “von Recklinghausen syndrome.”
First awarded in 1984, past recipients of the award include NCI Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., and more recently Nancy Ratner, Ph.D, from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and David Gutmann M.D., Ph.D., from the Washington University in St. Louis Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center.Print This Post