The Robert Wenner Prize for young cancer researchers goes to Andrea Alimonti


Institutional Communication Service

22 November 2019

The Swiss Cancer League - Krebsliga - has awarded the 2019 Robert Wenner Prize for young cancer researchers to Andrea Alimonti, Group leader at the Institute of Oncology Research (IOR, affiliated to Università della Svizzera italiana) and Full professor at the USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences. The award recognizes the research of Prof. Alimonti in the field of cancer cell aging and its possible therapeutic applications; in addition to those awarded last month by the PCF Prostate Cancer Foundation to Andrea Alimonti himself and his colleague Arianna Calcinotto, the award confirms the value of a field of scientific research that will find further consolidation by increasing synergies in the network in the medical and biomedical sector in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland.

In its statement (in Italian), the Swiss Cancer League wrote that "Andrea Alimonti is what in the English-speaking area is called 'physician-scientist': an oncologist who does most of his work not with patients, but in the research laboratory, where Alimonti has discovered that even cancer cells (which for a long time have been considered eternally young and immortal) can age under certain circumstances and that this aging (or senescence) can also be induced and intensified to control a cancer".

The Robert Wenner Prize was awarded to Prof. Alimoniti for these "innovative results" and was conferred to him on Thursday, November 21, in Bern. Named after the Basel gynaecologist who died in 1979, the award was established to promote talented young researchers working in the field of cancer. The Swiss Cancer League has been awarding the Robert Wenner Prize every year or two years since 1983. The prize-winners, who must be under 45 years of age, receive 100.000 francs: 80.000 francs as a contribution to an ongoing research project and 20.000 francs freely available.


Accolades for IOR in the U.S.

Professor Andrea Alimonti and his colleague, Group leader Dr. Arianna Calcinotto, both received prizes conferred by the PCF Prostate Cancer Foundation, the leading U.S. agency in this field, for their work on prostate cancer. Full details at


Improving research through synergies

"The Faculty of Biomedical Sciences and therefore USI can contribute to further improve the synergies between the various institutional actors and not only those operating in the medical and biomedical sector of the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland", notes Prof. Mario Bianchetti, Dean of the Faculty. "The research that is carried out at the IOR, as well as at the IRB, and in other institutions such as the Neurocentro and Cardiocentro Ticino, is a clear reflection of this, because we can consolidate the sectors in which we are already strong in a strategic way and shared with the cantonal hospital, in a dynamic of integration between research and clinical practice".

An example of this is the recent appointment, in May, of Prof. Dr. med. Silke Gillessen Sommer, an international expert in the field of prostate cancer and malignant genitourinary diseases, who will be the new head physician of oncology at the EOC, medical and scientific director of the Istituto oncologico della Svizzera italiana (IOSI) and full professor of oncology at the USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences.


Swiss Cancer League

The Swiss Cancer League (founded in 1910) is a non-profit organisation. It works in cancer prevention, promotes research and supports cancer patients and their relatives. In its national function as an umbrella organisation, it resides in Bern and included 18 cantonal and regional leagues. It is certified under the ZEWO label and is funded mainly through donations.