Cancer Biology

The research area Cancer Biology has the goal of promoting and advancing research in the field of cancer biology in Basel, with a focus on molecular, cellular, and clinical aspects. The aim is to facilitate collaborations and bridging the gaps between basic, translational, and clinical oncology research ongoing at the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel, the biotech and pharmaceutical industry, and the Basel life sciences ecosystem.

The Cancer Biology research area is currently comprised of 20 research groups with a total of around 250 members. The research area is chaired by Prof. Mohamed (Momo) Bentires-Alj, who leads the “Tumor Heterogeneity Metastasis and Resistance” and Prof. Mascha Binder, who leads the “Translational Immuno-Oncology” group. It is managed by a committee that integrates both lab researchers and clinicians as well as student and postdoc representatives (G. Hutter, M. Salvador, C. Le Magnen, F. Noreen, H. Läubli, J. Schwaller, S. Piscuoglio, C. Hager, C. Jehanno, M. Binder and M. Bentires-Alj).

The research area has three main objectives, the first of which is to provide support for basic, translational, and clinical research by creating opportunities for oncology research. The second focus of the research area is to support Personalized Health Basel Oncology (PHB-ONC) and the associated projects. This was initially achieved via the Swiss Personalized Oncology (SPO) Driver project that was originally launched to focus on clinical and molecular data interoperability within Switzerland, addressing patients from inpatient and outpatient clinics. The project federated clinical and -omics data acquisition, standardization, and utilization for precision oncology across Switzerland. The follow-up project to SPO is the ongoing SPO-NDS, which builds and extends the existing infrastructure, datasets, and know-how developed during the first three years of the SPO Driver project. In addition, high value cohorts will be assembled in cancer types treated with immuno-oncology (IO) therapies to enable comparative immunomics between highly IO-sensitive tumors (e.g., melanoma, lung-cancer, triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)) to less sensitive ones (e.g., MSI-CRC, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer). Using the momentum of the Tumor Profiler (TuPro) initiative, single-cell and -omics data will now be at the center of the program. This includes NGS, CyTOF/IMC, digital pathology, and functional drug screening to drive therapeutic decisions within the existing molecular tumor boards (Clinical Translation). PHB-ONC is co-chaired by Prof. Bentires-Alj and Prof. Benjamin Kasenda.

The third focus of the Research Area Cancer Biology is to enhance communication between the various researchers, clinicians, and representatives from pharmaceutical companies in Basel and abroad. The aim is to promote scientific exchange and technological collaboration, including with other research areasof the DBM. Towards this goal, an annual one-day symposium called OncoDay is organized to offer a platform for discussion of research progress and the exchange of ideas (OncoDay Basel). Furthermore, a monthly progress report in oncology research presented by members of the Cancer Biology research, known as the FARO (Focal Area of Research in Oncology) seminar series, is organized. In addition, renowned international cancer researchers are invited to give lectures, and impromptu guest seminars are held to supplement the seminar activities of the research program. Finally, an annual retreat for all members is being organized to further encourage collaborations and exchange of ideas.

Many members of the Cancer Biology Research Area have been engaged in the Basel Signaling Alliance, a center of excellence at the University of Basel. In 2014, they organized the “Kinome III” international conference in Basel, which had a very high impact. An extremely active program withing this research area is the Basel Breast Consortium (BBC) that integrates basic, translational and clinical research on breast cancer. The consortium has already achieved high success in organizing progress report meetings and annual conferences, which can be found at

The current research efforts are part of international and national research initiatives that cover innovative approaches to cancer research and treatment, including research on cancer genetics and genetic instability, cancer epigenetics, drug resistance and metastasis, signal transduction, protein and lipid glycosylation, the tumor microenvironment, cancer metabolism, cancer stem cells, tumor immunology and immunotherapy, tumor imaging, and novel therapeutic regimens. In the years to come, we will continue to promote scientific exchange between basic and patient-oriented research, as well as with industry, to facilitate the identification of clinical problems for the design of appropriate and innovative basic research approaches. Additionally, we aim to further improve the rapid translation of basic research results into clinical applications for cancer patients.


Research Groups Cancer Biology

Apostolova Petya, Prof. Dr. med.Blood Cancer Biology and Immunotherapy
Beltra Jean-Christophe Ph.D.Immunobiology and Immunotherapy
Bentires-Alj Mohamed, Prof. Dr.Tumor Heterogeneity Metastasis and Resistance
Bettler Bernhard, Prof. Dr.Molecular Neurobiology Synaptic Plasticity
Binder Mascha, Prof. Dr. med.Translational Immuno-Oncology
Cichon Sven, Prof. Dr.Human Genomics
Heinzelmann Viola, Prof. Dr. med.Ovarian Cancer Research
Heim Markus, Prof. Dr. med.Hepatology
Hutter Gregor, Prof. Dr. medBrain Tumor Immunotherapy and Biology
Läubli Heinz, Prof. Dr. med.Cancer Immunotherapy
Le Magnen Clémentine, Dr.Translational Genitourinary Cancer Research
Mariani Luigi, Prof. Dr. med.Brain Tumor Immunotherapy and Biology
Meyer Sara, Prof. Dr. med.Myeloid Malignancies
Navarini Alexander Prof. Dr.Skin Biology
Niess Jan, Prof. Dr. med.Gastroenterology
Piscuoglio Salvatore, Dr.Visceral Surgery and Precision Medicine
Schär Primo Leo, Prof. Dr.Genome Plasticity
Schwaller Jürg, Prof. Dr. med.Childhood Leukemia
Skoda Radek, Prof. Dr. med.Experimental Hematology
Wymann Matthias P., Prof. Dr.Cancer- and Immunobiology
Zampieri Mattia Prof. Dr.Systems Pharmacology and Biology of Metabolism
Zippelius Alfred, Prof. Dr. med.Cancer Immunology