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Integrating molecular diagnostics into patient care to truly personalize medicine is key to the future of successful medicine, in particular cancer care.

That was the message delivered by Reinhard Büttner, M.D., Professor and Chair, Pathology, at the University Hospital in Cologne, Germany, when he gave a lecture as part of the joint Surgery-Biomedical Engineering-Pathology seminar series, on Tuesday, May 22. Buttner is an authority on the genomics of lung cancer and targeted therapy.

Büttner opened his talk with slides showing the common cranes that twice annually fly over his home in Cologne, Germany, on their migration path south from Scandinavia to Spain and Northern Africa, a journey of some 1,500 miles. He used it as an analogy for pathologists who, in the diagnosing of diseases must also find the right time and mode of treatment, he said.

 Lung cancer is one of the most frequent causes of cancer deaths worldwide, Büttner said, with high levels in Germany where smoking is still permitted in some public areas and private businesses such as restaurants.

Büttner discussed biomarker analysis and histopathology diagnosis in lung cancer, including how to conduct personalized medicine in a large hospital setting. When only 15 to 20 percent of patients are getting resections done, he said, it is a challenge to analyze many genes simultaneously.

Büttner is part of a team of world-class researchers making up the Network for Genomic Medicine Lung Cancer, a $12 million-supported national collaborative made up of academic research centers and hospitals throughout Germany. Its stated goal is to "offer comprehensive and high-quality molecular diagnostics for all patients with lung cancer and thus to promote the implementation of personalized therapy in routine clinical care."

CV Buettner 2018Reinhard Büttner, M.D., Professor and Chair, Pathology, University Hospital Cologne, Germany

He served as president of the German division of the International Academy of Pathology, and co-president of the joint IAP/ESP Pathology World Congress in 2016. Read his full CV here.

Büttner shared a concluding slide about a patient advocacy group, Bärbel Söhkle, made up of lung cancer survivors who have beaten the odds.