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02 DSC 3070 KopieThe 2020 iCMLf Prize is awarded to Dr Sabira Kurtovic
(Bosnia and Herzegovina)

The iCMLf awards the 2020 iCMLf Prize to Dr Sabira Kurtovic, a hematologist at the Clinical Centre of the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This iCMLf Prize recognises outstanding contributions to the improvement of CML treatment under the challenging conditions of low- and middle-income countries with unequal access to monitoring and treatment. Dr Kurtovic is awarded the iCMLf Prize for her tireless work to ensure that patients with CML in Bosnia and Herzegovina receive the best possible care and have access to treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs).

"I am thrilled and delighted that Dr Kurtovic will receive the 2020 iCMLf Prize. She has demonstrated a humanitarian spirit and drive through war and beyond, managing always to keep patient welfare at the forefront. Having worked with her I know first hand her dedication, intelligence, and compassion."
(Professor Jerry Radich, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre)

In difficult conditions, especially during the years of war in the early ‘90s, with lack of basic care and despite tremendous struggles of getting the life saving medicine needed, Dr Kurtovic tried to provide best possible care to her CML patients. After the war, when targeted therapies were developed and imatinib was available, her focus was on making TKI’s available to as many CML patients in Bosnia and Herzegovina as possible. In 2005 Dr Kurtovic was elected Chairwoman of the federally funded Solidary Fund dedicated to the allocation of expensive hematooncology drugs in Bosnia and erHerzegovina.

In 2005, after a waiting list was introduced, around two thirds of patients with CML received the medication within a 14-month waiting period. Dr Kurtovic initiated a study with ‘real-life lessons’ from Bosnia exploring the impact of this delayed access to TKI’s on survival and cytogenetic and molecular response for patients with CML (Kurtovic-Kozaric et al. Br J Hematol, February 2016). Thanks to her continuous battle against administrative hurdles and the search for funds, since 2013 all patients have finally been receiving TKI therapy directly following a diagnosis of CML.

Besides her efforts to make TKI treatment available for all CML patients, Dr Kurtovic also facilitated the opening of the first cytogenetic and molecular laboratory in Bosnia and Herzegovina that allows adequate monitoring for patients with CML that conducts bone marrow karyotyping, FISH, and qPCR.

Sabira Kurtovic graduated from the Medical Faculty, University of Sarajevo in 1978. She started her career as a hematologist at the University Clinical Centre in Tuzla. Since 2002, she has been treating hematology patients at the University Clinical Centre at the University of Sarajevo.

Find an overview of Dr Kurtovic’s recent publications here