Our scientific focus

Molecular oncology is one of the most dynamic fields in biomedical research. The technological progress made in the past decades has dramatically changed the way cancer research is performed and it certainly changed the skill set required by modern physician scientists to battle the disease in the clinic. The overall concept of the Else Kröner Forschungskolleg Cologne is designed as an integrative approach to operate at the highly dynamic interface of cutting edge basic cancer research in the different laboratories and the advancement of targeted therapeutic regimens for the treatment of cancer patients in the clinical arena. A particular focus is placed on the longitudinal genomic assessment of different cancer entities, in order to understand mechanisms of clonal evolution leading to drug resistance.

Our approach

We will focus on the clonal evolution of malignant disease over time and specifically in response to (targeted) therapy. With the availability of affordable sequencing technologies, we are beginning to understand genomic predictors of drug response and drug resistance. Through computational tools developed within our consortium, we now have an unprecedentedly detailed view on the clonal composition of tumors and on the (therapy-induced) alterations of clonal composition, as well as clonal evolution. We will capitalize on this knowledge to set up targeted screening approaches that allow the identification of molecular liabilities associated with acquired genomic aberrations. We further want to translate our genomic discoveries into novel genetically engineered mouse models that faithfully mimic the clinical scenarios observed in our patients to use these models as preclinical exploration platforms. Lastly, we will systematically follow the clonal evolution of selected patients to tackle acquired genomic aberrations with novel approaches identified and characterized in our laboratories. 

The training program for our fellows

Overall, our concept follows a three-pronged approach:

  1. A research program that integrates innovative technologies, such as next generation genome sequencing, high-throughput in vitro screening and genomic mapping of responses, the use of innovative genetically engineered autochthonous mouse models of cancer, in vivo imaging and in vivo response assessments,
  2. An accompanying educational program that is designed to prepare a new generation of physician scientists that have the skills and armamentarium to pursue a career in modern cancer research and patient care following the general principle of the researching physician, and
  3. A commitment to the rapid translational development of laboratory findings into clinical practice.