№ 268/2009 from Oct 09, 2009
Tim Conrad, a computational biologist at Freie Universität, has been honored with the Klaus Tschira Award for the Public Understanding of Science in mathematics. Conrad received the award endowed with 5,000 euros for the three-page summary of his Ph.D. thesis "Bloody Fingerprints from the Playstation." The Klaus Tschira Award for the Public Understanding of Science is awarded annually. Applications are accepted from young scientists in the fields of biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, the neurosciences, and physics who completed their Ph.D. the previous year.
Tim Conrad is the second scientist at Freie Universität Berlin to receive this particular award for making science understandable. The jury selected Conrad's work because it is a "very clear and compellingly written research paper on the border between medicine, computer science, and mathematics." In it the reader can immediately realize that mathematics can be used to solve everyday problems.
In his dissertation Conrad developed a method for using a simple blood sample to make accurate statements about the health of an individual, for example, whether the person suffers from a certain cancer. Conrad hypothesized that almost every disease changes the concentration of a certain number of molecules in the affected person's blood, making a distinct pattern – a type of fingerprint of the disease.
So far, using the method he developed, Conrad has been able to create fingerprints for five different types of cancer. "Two of them were successful in first pre-clinical tests and had a significantly higher detection rate than other methods," according to Conrad. An Internet-based software has emerged from the project that is being used in several hospitals including Charité – University Medicine Berlin and University Hospital Leipzig.