Cancer Biology

The major goal of this Research Area is to support and expand research in the field of molecular and clinical oncology in Basel. In particular, we aim at bridging the gaps between basic, translational, and clinical oncology research ongoing at the University of Basel and the biotech and pharmaceutical industry in the Basel area. Ultimately, the Research Area should enforce collaborative efforts and common projectsbetween various research groups, research institutes and pharmaceutical industryand between different disciplines. An added value is seen in innovative project sthat eventually pay off by being transferred to a clinical setting. This research program relies critically on the participating individuals’ enthusiasm and initiatives.

The Research Area Cancer Biology is currently chaired by Professor Gerhard Christofori, leader of the “Tumor Biology” group at the DBM and by Professor Christoph Rochlitz, head of Clinical Oncology at the University Hospital. The program focuses on two major topics: first to support basic, translational, and clinical research by generating opportunities for oncology research, for example by hosting new recruitmentswithin the DBM. In 2015, we were happy to welcome Prof. Nicola Aceto as SNF-Assistant Professor to lead the research group “Cancer Metastasis” and, in 2016, Prof. Mohamed Bentires-Alj as Professor of Experimental Surgical Oncology to lead the research group “Tumor Heterogeneity, Metastasis and Resistance”. Both are now highly active in shaping the Research Area Cancer Biology with new initiatives and contributions.

The second focus of the Research Area Cancer Biology is to increase communication between the various researchers, clinicians and pharmaceutical company representatives in Basel and to foster scientific exchange and technological collaboration, also with the other Research Areas of the DBM. Towards this goal, one-day symposia are organized to offer platforms for the discussion of research progress and for the exchange of ideas. Many members of the DBM Oncology Program are also engaged in the Basel Signaling Alliance, a center of excellence at the University of Basel, and in 2014 they have organized another high-impact international conference in Basel,“Kinome III”. A more recent new addition to the Research Area Cancer Biology is the Basel Breast Consortium (BBC) which integrates basic, translationaland clinical research on breast cancer and has already been highly successful in organizing progress report meetings and annual conferences. In addition, renowned international cancer researchers are invited to present lectures within the DBM Oncology Program Seminars, and impromptu Guest Seminars complete the seminar activities of the research program. Many members of the Research Area Cancer Biology are also actively participating in the European Cancer Center (EuCC), anoncology platform initiative of the Universities of Freiburg, Germany, Strasbourg,France, and Basel. Finally, specific advanced courses in experimental cancer research and in cell signaling are offered to Master and PhD students. Thus far, these communication activities have resulted into highly successful collaborations and research networks, manifested also by the accomplishments of several project grants, SNF Sinergia grants, and a highly prestigious European ResearchCouncil (ERC) Synergy grant. Of note, a recent highly successful biotech startup of the University of Basel (Piqur Therapeutics AG) also has major roots inthe DBM Oncology Program. Accordingly, many of these 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, angiogenesis and metastasis, signal transduction, cancer stem cells, tumor immunology and immunotherapy, tumor imaging and novel therapeutic regimen. In the years to come, we still need to enforce scientific exchange between basic and patient-oriented research in order to facilitate the identification of clinical problems for the design of appropriate and innovative basic research approaches and, on the other hand, to further improve on the rapid translation of basic research results into clinical application.

Research Groups Cancer Biology

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