“To be selected is an honour; not only for me, but also for all the people I have been trained by”

Prof. Derya Tilki wins 2020 EAU Crystal Matula Award

She received medical education in Germany and the United States. She is currently faculty member of the Martini-Klinik in Hamburg (DE), where she works in collaboration with several international research institutes around the globe. In a world of ongoing international collaboration, she is a symbol of future urology. Prof. Derya Tilki (DE) was therefore selected as the recipient of the 2020 EAU Crystal Matula Award, awarded to a young promising European urologist aged 40 or under who has the potential to become one of the future leaders in academic European urology. The award was scheduled to be bestowed at EAU20 in Amsterdam and was instead given to Prof. Tilki in the build-up to EAU21 Virtual.

“Global research projects provide more heterogeneity not only of patients and diseases we are studying, but also regarding differences in how urologists think, construct methodology to answer a question, and interpret data,” Prof. Tilki says about the several international collaborations she has been part of. “I did my urological oncology fellowship at the UC Davis Medical Center (US) and saw many new ways to address a question.”

What does winning the EAU Crystal Matula Award mean to you?
Prof. Tilki: “I feel incredibly honoured. Every year, there are many qualified and deserving applicants. To be elected is an honour; not only for me, but also for all the people I have been trained by, currently work with, and those who I am mentoring now and will be mentoring in the years to come.”

Your main clinical interests are diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer, while your research focusses on prostate cancer outcomes and biomarker research. Could you say something about how and why you chose this path?
“During medical school, I did my medical thesis on tumour angiogenesis. The project I was working on was related to prostate and bladder cancer, which included a collaboration with the urology department. This was the reason I chose the field of urology. The ability to investigate clinical questions with tools to better help patients and physicians was a natural fit.”

You also concentrate on translational research. What new developments do you see in the field of prostate cancer?
“Some of the most exciting developments at present include new biomarkers in prostate cancer, new imaging modalities and their influence on treatment decisions, and new agents in metastatic prostate cancer. Each one of these has a potentially profound impact to benefit patients.”

You attended among others Harvard Medical School (US), Weill Cornell Medical College (US), and UC Davis Medical Center (US). What experience was most helpful for you on the journey to winning the EAU Crystal Matula Award?
“I attended these places during different times of my career: Harvard during medical school, Weill Cornell Medical College during residency, and UC Davis Medical Center for my clinical fellowship. The combination of them has contributed to my journey in total and created the foundation for my achievements.”

You are actively involved in the EAU, for instance as member of the EAU Prostate Cancer Guidelines Panel. What did you learn from your involvement in the EAU so far?
“I learned the importance of collaboration and group research as a mechanism to broaden my knowledge as well as to share it.”

What advice would you give to a young urologist starting out now?
“Find an area that you are passionate about and focus on it. Also, always have a mentor. Ultimately, that mentor should become a collaborator.”