Robert Kralovics has been associated with CeMM for 15 years, being one of the very first internationally recruited Principal Investigators to join our institute. On 31 August 2021, his CeMM affiliation comes to an end, and therefore we would like to thank him greatly for all his scientific contributions and personal engagement with CeMM and our community.
Robert earned his master’s degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics at Comenius University and his PhD in Genomics at the Institute of Biophysics of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. His postdoctoral work was based on the genetics of myeloproliferative disorders working with Josef Prchal at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, USA. In 2000, Robert joined Prchal’s group as Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. In 2001, he became project leader with Radek Skoda in Basel (Switzerland). In 2006, he joined CeMM as Principal Investigator, and transitioned to Adjunct Principal Investigator in 2019, being one of the CeMM pioneers that helped build CeMM from the very beginning, when it was only a virtual institute, and our now renowned PhD Program had only just been launched.
In 2013, Robert’s research group in collaboration with Heinz Gisslinger’s group at the Medical University of Vienna decoded a genetic mutation (CALR, Calreticulin) responsible for about 15% of myeloproliferative neoplasia (MPN) cases. This newly identified mutation filled the gap in the molecular pathogenesis of MPN, bringing hope to many MPN patients. The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine (Klampfl et al, NEJM 2013, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1311347). In 2014, the company QIAGEN obtained a license from CeMM, and started to develop a diagnostic test for the CALR mutation offering patients and physicians a clearer prognostic profile and guiding disease management. CeMM and QIAGEN established a partnership from the beginning, as the CALR diagnostic test was highly complementary to QIAGEN’s kits for a key mutation of the Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) gene. In December 2015, Robert co-founded the company MyeloPro with a focus on developing therapeutics to treat myeloproliferative neoplasms, while in 2016, QIAGEN and CeMM announced the successful market launch of the diagnostic CALR kit.
We are grateful to Robert and his group for taking up the challenge to join CeMM at an early stage, for introducing genetics and genomics at the institute, and for contributing to our success story by advancing scientific research, but also for being a reliable partner in CeMM’s IP and commercialization efforts. The discovery of the calreticulin gene involvement in MPN of Robert’s team is to this date one of the most important findings CeMM has done/contributed to. Robert played a major role in helping CeMM establish itself on the medical campus, building an important bridge between frontier research in biomedicine and the clinical world.
We wish Robert all the best in his career as group leader at the Medical University of Vienna, more successful research projects, publications, and recognitions for him and his group in the future! His spirit and dedication to science has been key to CeMM and will further empower the medical campus.