Photo by: Uwe Dettmar
THE MOST SUCCESSFUL CROATIAN SCIENTIST OF OUR TIME
Ivan Đikić is one of the most successful Croatian scientists abroad. Even though he has just entered his fifties, he has fulfilled his scientific resume with quite impressive achievements. He is currently a professor of medicine at the Goethe University Frankfurt; he has won the most important scientific award “Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz” and he is a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. He has also won a string of prestigious international awards, including the recognitions of the American and European associations for cancer research.
Đikić’s scientific and research work focuses on tumors. When his career so far is subjected to even a superficial analysis, we can conclude, with no margin of error, that this is a scientist who wants to leave his mark in finding the cure for the most ruthless disease today. Even though he has lived abroad from 1992, since he went there to study and find the answers to many questions, something that he could not get in Croatia, he still feels connected to Croatia. He has been intensely participating in its scientific, educational and social life for the last 15 years, mostly as an ambassador of science in the public. In 2017, Đikić took a year off, which he spent in the United States of America at Stanford University and the biotechnological company Genentech. As of January 1st 2018, he has started working in the laboratory of the biotechnological company Genentech; as of now, he will spend three months a year in San Francisco, and the rest at the Goethe University Frankfurt.
Life on two continents
“I learnt a lot in America. I understood many things I did not know about the industry, about making medicine, investing and the very strenuous and arduous work that the pharmacological industry is investing in creating medicine. In a way, that inspired me to return to Frankfurt, where my laboratory is located, and where I have very good colleagues. I was offered to come and work in America, but I declined the offer because of my family. However, now they offered me to open a laboratory, so, as of January 1st, I will spend three months a year in San Francisco, and nine in Frankfurt. I am very happy because of that and I believe that this is a great challenge in my career. I will have my people who work at the company, whom I will mentor, and I will run the projects. That is, so to speak, a free playground for training and trying to create new medicine. Our main challenges include combining bacteriology and tumors. Due to evolutionary reasons, human illnesses, especially tumors, are our most serious enemies. Cancer is a serious illness that we need to understand first to be able to achieve success in treatment. In the early stage, it is completely curable, in the middle stage, there is also a high rate of success; however, in the advanced stage, especially in the case of metastasis, we are completely unsuccessful in treating it, and that needs to be clearly stated. It is unimportant at that stage whether you have money for treatment or not. Steve Jobs had all the money in the world, and even he couldn’t buy his health,” says Đikić.