The research program of our consortium is devoted to the development of genetically informed cancer therapies, through a holistic understanding of cancer cell biology and the crosstalk between tumor cells and their surrounding tumor microenvironment (TME).
Your future project could be, for example, in one of the following research areas:
Research Area 1: Discovery Platform
Members of our consortium have established a series of cutting-edge technologies over the recent past, which we have strategically bundled into a discovery platform, that is accessible to all of our fellows. Using these experimental technologies, we will continue to perform genomic and transcriptome sequencing of various human and murine tumors to identify novel genome alterations that may serve as starting points for subsequent computational and functional characterization, as well as translational exploration.
Research Area 2: Computational Biology and Data Integration
The scientific questions within Research Area 2 are focused on the identification and longitudinal monitoring of mutations in CLL, lung cancer, upper GI tract malignancies, neuroblastoma, melanoma and breast, prostate, as well as head and neck cancer. A particular focus will be placed on the correlation of cancer cell-specific genomic aberrations and the molecular characteristics of the respective TME. Specifically, using our well-established single cell technologies (scRNA and DNA Seq, mass cytometry, imaging mass cytometry, functional proteomics), we will be able to assess the impact of the cancer cell genomic landscape on the composition and activation status of the TME. To maximize knowledge gains within this Research Area and to effectively interconnect with the other Research Areas of this consortium, it is critical to develop systems-level approaches that afford identification of biologically relevant (and thus, experimentally interrogatable) mutations in large genome-level datasets and on the background of biologically irrelevant mutations.
Research Area 3: In vivo Validation
We strictly focused on cancer cell-autonomous mechanisms of malignant transformation and clonal evolution in the first funding period. In the second funding period, we will now expand this view to also dissect and interrogate the molecular dialogue between cancer cells and their surrounding TME. While parts of this crosstalk can be studied in vitro, we are convinced that meaningful data can only be derived from appropriate in vivo models. Thus, a major focus of our consortium will be on the development and systematic exploitation of a series of murine and nematode model systems.
Research Area 4: Translational Platform
The overarching goal of all RAs within our consortium is to improve the outcome of our cancer patients. Therefore, active translation within clinical trials is a fundamental pillar of this consortium. Cologne is home to some of the most active clinical study groups, including the German CLL Study Group (speaker: M. Hallek), the German Hodgkin Study Group (speaker: A. Engert), the Lung Cancer Group Cologne (speaker: J. Wolf) and the National Center for Familial Tumors (speaker: R. Schmutzler). Moreover, the Center for Clinical Trials (speaker: O. Cornely) provides training and administrative support structure for individual investigators to initiate and conduct clinical trials. Building on these robust and well-established translational infrastructures, we developed a strong track record of initiating and conducting practice-changing clinical trials, ranging from phase-I investigator-initiated trials (IITs) to phase-III approval trials. Strategically, our focus will be placed on IITs and on early phase proof-of-concept trials in genetically-stratified patients. Integration of different departments will allow the EKF fellows to establish and perform trials in genetically-defined patient cohorts.
If you see your project in one of these Research Areas, please contact:
info[at]ekf-cologne.de and we will help you to identify and contact a suitable PI. You can also get an overview of the research groups on our Website: Principal Investigators
We will apply strict excellence criteria for the selection of our fellows. Please visit our Application section for more Information.