Scientist Spotlight: Eunike Velleuer

Name: Eunike Velleuer, MD

Institution: Department of Cytopathology, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany; Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, Helios Clinic, Krefeld, Germany.

Area of expertise: Pediatric Hematology-Oncology

My work:

I’m a clinician scientist specializing in pediatric hematology-oncology. I currently serve as a senior physician at the Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, Helios Clinic, in Krefeld, Germany. I also work as a research associate at the University of Düsseldorf. My focus is on cancer predisposition in Fanconi anemia (FA). More precisely, my research is on the early detection of oral squamous cell carcinoma and identifying individuals with FA at risk of cancer.

Over the last 14 years – together with patient support groups and colleagues around the world – we conducted a study on the use of oral brush biopsies to evaluate visible spots in the mouths of individuals with FA. This study proved that brush biopsies increase the frequency of surveillance, and that early detection of lesions and pre-cancers is feasible. Furthermore, I’m interested in increasing patient resilience and empowerment. In this context, I’m interested in digital medicine, computational modeling, and transition of care.

Dr. Velleuer

Dr. Velleuer with colleagues Mona and Christine, and Bella, who lives with FA

What motivates me to work on FA:

There is nothing like death to teach us how precious life is and what a huge gift it is to live on this planet. I’m convinced that each of us has a role to play in this global community. I came to the FA field by way of an intellectual challenge in the lab, but very quickly learned about how this disease personally impacts the individual and their loved ones. My dedication to FA is grounded in the hope to lessen the pain and suffering. I keep my eyes and my heart open to this community.

When I’m not in the lab, you could find me:

Most of the time I’m outside in nature, enjoying the beauty of life and the wonders of harmony that can be found there. You’ll seldom find me in one spot, as I like to move around on foot, bicycle, or paddle board.

Anything else you want FA families to know?

In our work, we are always seeking to understand this disease better. Seeking answers is a universal human trait. Yet we know only rarely can we explain or understand every aspect of what’s happening to us. While we do not have all the answers about FA yet, I believe it’s critical to continue forward and find joy and peace in a life we cannot always understand or explain.

Dr. Velleuer paddle boarding when she’s not in the lab

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