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Strong together in cancer research

UCCH Research Programs

The University Cancer Center Hamburg (UCCH) has established a number of integrated research networks and corresponding research programs that focus on specific key areas in cancer research. The research programs bring together individuals from multiple UCCH departments and laboratories, thus leveraging heterogeneous sets of backgrounds and knowledge from numerous experts, including medical-care-oriented professionals and experimental-science-oriented researchers. UCCH research programs are generally headed by a leadership team of program coordinators that consist of one preferentially medical-care-oriented and one laboratory-science-oriented member of the program.

  • Prostate Cancer Program

    Program Coordinators

    Prof. Dr. Guido Sauter
    Dept. of Pathology
    Phone: +49 (0) 7410 - 55500
    E-mail: g.sauter@uke.de

    Prof. Dr. Thorsten Schlomm
    Martini-Klinik /Dept. of Urology
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 51306
    E-mail: tschlomm@uke.de

    Overview

    Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and one of the leading causes of cancer-related death in men in Germany.
    The UCCH Prostate Cancer Program is a multi-department effort directed to

    • identify the biological underpinnings of prostate cancer
    • establish reliable prognostic and predictive markers for individualized treatment decisions
    • contribute to the development of effective new therapeutic interventions.

    The research program is based on a network of physicians and scientists from multiple basic science research groups and cancer care departments at the UKE (see network members below), notably the Martini Clinic, UCCH's Prostate Cancer Center, who join force with national and international partners in a number of long-term collaborations. Taking advantage of Martini Clinic's collection of prostate cancer biospecimens, one of the world's largest and annotated with comprehensive clinical data, the program aims to identify the complex and heterogeneous molecular, genetic and epigenetic characteristics of prostate cancers. Prostate cancer (subtype)-specific molecular signatures are analyzed further to identify promising putative targets for current and/or future anti-cancer drugs and to find candidate markers for the development of molecular tests that reliably predict patient subgroup's risks and responses to treatment.
    Parts of the program are funded by large and competitive grants, including grants from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for the National Cancer Genome Network and for the German contribution to the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC).

    Program Members

    • Markus Graefen, Prof. Dr.
      Martini-Klinik
    • Hans Heinzer, Prof. Dr.
      Martini-Klinik
    • Hartwig Huland, Prof. Dr.
      Martini-Klinik
    • Klaus Pantel, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Tumor Biology
    • Klaus Püschel, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Legal Medicine
    • Guido Sauter, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Pathology
    • Thorsten Schlomm, Prof. Dr.
      Martini-Klinik
      Dept. of Urology
    • Hartmut Schlüter, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Clinical Chemistry
    • Udo Schumacher, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Anatomy and Experimental Morphology
    • Ronald Simon, PD Dr.
      Dept. of Pathology

    International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC)

  • Dissemination & Metastasis Program

    Program Coordinators

    Prof. Dr. Klaus Pantel
    Dept. of Tumor Biology
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 57893
    E-mail: pantel@uke.de

    Prof. Dr. Udo Schumacher
    Dept. of Anatomy and Experimental Morphology
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 53586
    E-mail: u.schumacher@uke.de

    Prof. Dr. Dr. Sonja Loges
    Dept. of Oncology and Hematology
    Dept. of Tumorbiology
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 51538
    E-mail: s.loges@uke.de

    Overview

    Metastatic disease is the single most common reason for the lethality of solid malignancies. Therefore, it is of particular importance in cancer medicine to understand the underlying biological mechanisms and to develop interceptive therapeutic strategies. The UCCH Dissemination & Metastasis Program brings together scientists and physicians from multiple laboratories and medical departments. The program leverages a quite unique combination of experimental and medical expertise at UKE campus in several fields that are specifically important and well placed to tackle some of the fundamental steps of the metastatic process. Metastatic disease is the final outcome of very complex interacting biological processes, which at the very beginning entails dissemination of cancer cells from a primary tumor, followed by spreading of the cells via the blood stream or lymph system and then culminates with the formation of colony tumors at other, sometimes distant sites of the body. Relevant expertise of the program's members stretches from techniques to isolate and analyze circulating tumor cells from the blood stream of human subjects and patients, to establishing stable cell lines of disseminated cancer cells, to special resources and expertise of a large variety of preclinical spontaneously metastasizing tumor models, to expertise in identification of functionally relevant molecular interactions and the production of inhibitors for molecularly targeted therapies, just to name a few.
    Based on these strengths of individual participants and facilitated by synergies that are being generated through close interactions fostered by the program, the program aims to
    (i) identify reliable biomarkers indicating critical steps and states in the progression of the metastatic process,
    (ii) determine critical molecules and molecular interactions as well as cellular processes, that influence and control important steps of the dissemination and colonization cascade and finally to
    (iii) develop biological tools that interfere with the metastasis driving and facilitating molecular and cellular events.
    By that we hope to contribute to the final aim: blocking cancer in patients to transit from a more easily treatable primary tumor stage to the more difficult and complicated metastatic stage. The content of this program is composed of five subprojects:

    • Cell surface targeting of disseminating tumor cells
    • Circulating tumor cells as biomarkers for targeted therapies
    • Tumor cell dormancy and formation of bone metastases
    • Next generation sequencing platform for circulating tumor cells
    • Brain metastasis in breast cancer
    These five projects overlap in content, staff and experimental approach, which is expected to foster a result-oriented research environment and is founded on the constant exchange of data, results and ideas that will ultimately drive progress within each pillar.

    Program Members

    • Michael Amling, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Osteology and Biomechanics
    • Volker Aßmann, Dr.
      Dept. of Tumor Biology
    • Boris Fehse, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Stem Cell Transplantation
    • Katharina Harms-Effenberger, PD Dr.
      Dept. of Tumor Biology
    • Eric Hesse, Prof. Dr. Dr.
      Dept. of Trauma, Hand and Reconstructive Surgery
    • Katrin Lamszus, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Neurosurgery
    • Volkmar Müller, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Gynecology
    • Oliveira-Ferrer, Leticia, PD Dr.
      Dept. of Gynecology
    • Klaus Pantel, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Tumor Biology
    • Sabine Riethdorf, PD Dr.
      Dept. of Tumor Biology
    • Barbara Schmalfeldt, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Gynecology
    • Udo Schumacher, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Anatomy and Experimental Morphology
    • Heidi Schwarzenbach, PD Dr.
      Dept. of Tumor Biology
    • Manfred Westphal, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Neurosurgery
    • Harriet Wikman, PD Dr.
      Dept. of Tumor Biology

  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Program

    Program Coordinators

    Prof. Dr. Mascha Binder
    Dept. of Oncology and Hematology
    Binder Lab, Cancer Biology
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 51953
    E-mail: m.binder@uke.de

    Prof. Dr. Boris Fehse
    Dept. of Stem Cell Transplantation
    Fehse Lab, Research Dept. Cell and Gene Therapy
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 55518
    E-mail: fehse@uke.de

    Overview

    Investigators within the UCCH Leukemia & Lymphoma Program are working to develop better therapies for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma in adult and childhood patients. The research is conducted by multidisciplinary staff from various clinics and research departments of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf. Major research interests are the development of novel treatment strategies for hematologic neoplasia including the development of targeted therapies. The intensive collaboration between basic scientists and clinicians allows the exchange of discoveries from bench to bedside and vice versa. The research program profits not only from its multidisciplinary nature and exchange of knowledge and ideas but also from different biospecimen resources and a great variety of technologies, e. g. a novel gene marking technology and next generation sequencing just to name a few. A biomaterial bank for hematological neoplasia has been established and is available for research in this field.

    Program Members

    • Peter Bannas, PD Dr.
      Dept. of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology
    • Mascha Binder, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Oncology and Hematology
    • Judith Dierlamm, Prof. Dr. Dr.
      Dept. of Oncology and Hematology
    • Boris Fehse, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Stem Cell Transplantation
    • Walter Fiedler, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Oncology and Hematology
    • Friedrich Haag, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Immunology
    • Martin Horstmann, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology
      Forschungsinstitut Kinderkrebszentrum
    • Manfred Jücker, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Biochemistry and Signal Transduction
    • Nicolaus Kröger, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Stem Cell Transplantation
    • Sonja Loges, Prof. Dr. Dr.
      Dept. of Tumor Biology
      Dept. of Oncology and Hematology
    • Ingo Müller, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Stem Cell Transplantation
      Dept. of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology
      Forschungsinstitut Kinderkrebszentrum
    • Peter Nollau, Dr.
      Forschungsinstitut Kinderkrebszentrum
    • Friedrich Nolte, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Immunology
    • Thomas Sternsdorf, Dr.
      Forschungsinstitut Kinderkrebszentrum
    • Martin Trepel, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Oncology and Hematology
    • Gunild von Amsberg, PD Dr.
      Dept. of Oncology and Hematology

  • Neuro-oncology Program

    Program Coordinators

    Prof. Dr. Katrin Lamszus
    Dept. of Neurosurgery
    Lamszus Lab, Hans-Dietrich Hermann Laboratory for Brain Tumor Biology
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 55577
    E-mail: lamszus@uke.de

    Prof. Dr. Manfred Westphal
    Dept. of Neurosurgery
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 52750
    E-mail: westphal@uke.de

    Overview

    The UCCH Neuro-oncology Program is focused on comprehensive metabolic and phenotypic characterization of glioma stem-like cells and their adaptation in different microenvironment conditions. The role of EGFR mutations in the response of glioma cells to anti-tumor therapies is studied and will be translated into treatment paradigms for preclinical models and later for clinical studies.
    Another research focus of the program is characterizing specific differences in cancer cell genotypes and phenotypes of brain metastases versus metastases in other sites.
    The pediatric neuro-oncology group is a leading center for clinical research in medulloblastoma in Germany, and a future translational and experimental medulloblastoma research group at the UCCH will focus on molecular signatures of these cancers, predictive markers and target identification.

    Program Members

    • Katrin Lamszus, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Neurosurgery
    • Tobias Martens, PD Dr.
      Dept. of Neurosurgery
    • Stefan Rutkowski, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology
    • Guido Sauter, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Pathology
    • Ulrich Schüller, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology
      Forschungsinstitut Kinderkrebszentrum
    • Nils-Ole Schmidt, PD Dr.
      Dept. of Neurosurgery
    • Udo Schumacher, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Anatomy and Experimental Morphology
    • Manfred Westphal, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Neurosurgery

  • Psycho-oncology Program

    Program Coordinators

    Prof. Dr. Dr. Martin Härter
    Dept. of Medical Psychology
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 52978
    E-mail: m.haerter@uke.de

    Prof. Dr. Dr. Uwe Koch-Gromus
    Dept. of Medical Psychology
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 52003
    E-mail: koch@uke.de

    Prof. Dr. Corinna Bergelt
    Dept. of Medical Psychology
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 54939
    E-mail: bergelt@uke.de

    Prof. Dr. Holger Schulz
    Dept. of Medical Psychology
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 56806
    E-mail: schulz@uke.de

    Overview

    Psycho-oncology is a multidisciplinary UCCH research program which requires and maintains close collaboration between psychologists and clinical cancer care facilities. The key research topics of the Psycho-oncology Program fall into four main categories:

    • Psychosocial aspects in cancer survivorship: Understanding the psychosocial long-term and late effects of cancer and cancer treatments and their implications for patients' and care givers' mental health, occupational and social participation are addressed here. Secondary prevention, cancer rehabilitation, employment and life style changes are key research areas within this project.
    • Palliative health care research: The development, implementation and evaluation of specific psycho-oncological interventions in patients with metastasized and advanced cancer are major research desiderata. The effectiveness and applicability of psycho-oncological interventions in palliative care focusing on symptom management, hope, dignity, meaning and changes in family relations will be examined.
    • Distress screening: Given the limited evidence base that screening with feedback to staff improves patients' outcomes, such as empowerment and reduction of psychosocial distress, new models of distress screening and implementation of patient pathways will be developed, implemented and evaluated.
    • Psycho-oncological online interventions: Internet interventions tailored to cancer patients' mental health play an increasingly important role particularly given insufficient psychosocial treatment resources. The development, testing, and dissemination of internet interventions for cancer patients and survivors to manage and improve their mental health is a key research topic. Also, the efficacy, accessibility and acceptability of mental health internet interventions will be investigated.

    Program Members

    • Corinna Bergelt, PD Dr.
      Dept. of Medical Psychology
    • Martin Härter, Prof. Dr. Dr.
      Dept. of Medical Psychology
    • Uwe Koch-Gromus, Prof. Dr. Dr.
      Dept. of Medical Psychology
    • Holger Schulz, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Medical Psychology
    • Frank Schulz-Kindermann, Dr.
      Dept. of Medical Psychology
    • Alexander Stein, PD Dr.
      UCCH
      Dept. of Oncology and Hematology

  • Head & Neck Cancer Program

    Program Coordinator

    PD Dr. Adrian Münscher
    Dept. of Otorhinolaryngology
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 52360
    E-mail: a.muenscher@uke.de

    PD Dr. Dr. Henning Hanken
    Dept. of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 53259
    E-Mail: h.hanken@uke.de

    Overview

    An interdisciplinary translational Head & Neck Cancer Program has been implemented by UCCH investigators with the aim to develop urgently needed new diagnostic tools and better therapies for treatment of patients. The research program is based in part on a head and neck cancer clinical center of excellence, which incorporates eight UKE departments, and has been certified since 2011 by The Deutsche Krebsgesellschaft (DKG), the largest professional society for oncology in Germany. The program benefits from several active UCCH head and neck cancer clinical trials which recruit significant fractions of newly diagnosed head and neck cancer patients treated at UKE.

    To advance current knowledge of head and neck cancer the network's scientists and medical professionals develop and employ sets of biomedical research tools like tissue microarrays (TMAs), which enable fast and comprehensive immuno-histological analysis of hundreds of tumor samples from different cancers. A biospecimen repository is being created to perform genetic, epigenetic and proteomic analysis of head and neck cancer, and a biobank of human head and neck cancer cell lines is being established and used for in vitro and in vivo modeling of the disease.
    These biomedical tools and others are used by the program's scientists to explore the cellular mechanisms and putative targets of radiosensitivity of these tumors, which is the most important variable in these tumors for the currently best treatment option, radiation therapy, and a promising phenotype to be manipulated for better future options. In this context, the program's activities include investigations of DNA repair mechanisms and genomic instability with the aim to identify and validate related target pathways and molecules for therapeutic interventions like EGFR signaling and other putative phosphoproteome therapeutic targets. Further efforts are directed to determine HPV prevalence in head and neck cancer and related pathomechanisms and to identify predictive markers for distant metastasis formation, markers for prediction and mechanisms of acute and late radiation-induced side effects, predictive and prognostic markers for clinical outcome.

    Program Members

    • Kerstin Borgmann, PD Dr.
      Dept. of Radiobiology and Experimental Radio-oncology
    • Chia-Jung Busch, Dr.
      Dept. of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery
    • Malte Kriegs, PD Dr.
      Dept. of Radiobiology and Experimental Radio-oncology
    • Wael Y. Mansour, Dr.
      Dept. of Radiobiology and Experimental Radio-oncology
    • Klaus Pantel, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Tumor Biology
    • Kai Rothkamm, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Radiobiology and Experimental Radio-oncology
    • Guido Sauter, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Pathology
    • Hartmut Schlüter, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Clinical Chemistry
    • Udo Schumacher, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Anatomy and Experimental Morphology

  • Gastrointestinal Cancer Program

    Program Coordinators

    Dr. Jörg Schrader
    Dept. of Gastroenterology
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 56558
    E-mail: jschrade@uke.de

    PD Dr. Alexander Stein
    UCCH/Dept. of Oncology and Hematology
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 - 56882
    E-mail: a.stein@uke.de

    Overview

    Based on the profound experience in colon, esophageal and pancreatic cancer research, in addition to the availability of substantial amounts of respective clinical data, including large patient numbers and data derived from clinical trials, the researchers at UCCH are exceptionally well placed to develop novel translational research projects in the field of gastrointestinal cancer. Several excellent experimental research projects on this topic already exist at UCCH. Within the UCCH Gastrointestinal Cancer Program particular focus will be directed on biomarker research within clinical trials on colorectal cancer as well as the development and functional characterization of animal models with spontaneous liver metastases. In close interaction with the UCCH Dissemination & Metastasis Program a consortium has been founded on colorectal cancer liver metastasis. It comprises projects on the functional role of cell adhesion molecules, signal transduction molecules, circulating tumor cells (CTCs), telomerase pathways, inflammatory stroma, pre-metastatic and metastatic niches and homing receptors for colorectal liver metastases.

    Program Members

    • Gerhard Adam, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology
    • Andreas Block, PD Dr.
      UCCH
      Dept. of Hematology and Oncology
    • Maximillian Bockhorn, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of General, Visceral, and Thoracic Surgery
    • Carsten Bokemeyer, Prof. Dr.
      UCCH
      Dept. of Oncology and Hematology
    • Nicola Gagliani, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Gastroenterology
    • Cenap Güngör, Dr.
      Dept. of General, Visceral and Thoracic Surgery
    • Katharina Harms-Effenberger, Dr.
      Dept. of General, Visceral and Thoracic Surgery
      Dept. of Tumor Biology
    • Samuel Huber, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Gastroenterology
    • Jakob Izbicki, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of General, Visceral & Thoracic Surgery
    • Klaus Pantel, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Tumor Biology
    • Thomas Rösch, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Interdisciplinary Endoscopy
    • Guido Sauter, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Pathology
    • Jörg Schrader, Dr.
      Dept. of Gastroenterology
    • Udo Schumacher, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Anatomy and Experimental Morphology
    • Alexander Stein, PD Dr.
      UCCH
      Dept. of Oncology and Hematology
    • Gisa Tiegs, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Experimental Hepatology and Immunology
    • Henning Wege, PD Dr.
      Dept. of Gastroenterology

  • Cancer Epidemiology Program

    Program Coordinators

    Prof. Dr. Heiko Becher
    Dept. of Medical Biometry and Epidemiology
    Phone: +49 (0) 40 7410 -59551
    E-mail: h.becher@uke.de

    Prof. Dr. Jenny Chang-Claude
    UCCH Genetic Cancer Epidemiology
    E-mail: j.chang-claude@uke.de

    Overview

    The UCCH Cancer Epidemiology Program focuses on the identification of risk factors for human cancers in order to improve cancer prevention concepts with special emphasis on life style and genetic factors. Common objectives of the scientists and clinicians participating in this program are the development of improved risk profiles for the susceptibility to cancer, the identification of modifiable life style factors in cancer survivors to prevent recurrence and the improvement of existing early detection programs in the metropolitan area of Hamburg. In addition, the UCCH division Cancer Epidemiology participates in the largest German longitudinal epidemiological study (German National Cohort, n = 200,000 adults, including 10,000 individuals from Hamburg) serving for the identification of new risk factors for primary prevention of chronic diseases (including cancer) and for the development of novel biomarkers (e. g. miRNA) for early detection of these diseases.

    Program Members

    • Heiko Becher, Prof. Dr.
      Dept. of Medical Biometry and Epidemiology
    • Jenny Chang-Claude, Prof. Dr.
      UCCH Genetic Cancer Epidemiology
    • Dieter Flesch-Janys, Prof. Dr.
      UCCH Cancer Epidemiology
    • Nadia Obi, Dr.
      Dept. of Medical Biometry and Epidemiology
    • Catarina Schlüter, Dr.
      UCCH Cancer Registry
    • Hamburger Krebsregister
    • Hamburger Krebsregister Data Base