Stem cells are capable of life-long self-renewal and multi-lineage differentiation. Elucidation of the critical molecular mechanisms that control stem cell fate receives widespread attention. These mechanisms could be manipulated to engineer stem cell biology for therapeutic interventions or tissue repair. Moreover, there is increasing evidence for the concept that malignancies are sustained by cancer stem cells, a tumor subpopulation which maintains the uncontrolled production of less malignant neoplastic daughter cells (blasts). Cancer stem cells appear to share important functions with normal stem cells such as self-renewal, differentiation and long-term survival. The existence of cancer stem cells is of great clinical relevance since their unique “stemness” properties are likely enabling them to escape conventional anti-cancer therapy designed to target the fast cycling and highly proliferating cancer blasts. This inability to eradicate cancer stem cells might be responsible for the disease relapses frequently observed in cancer patients. Our laboratory works on deciphering transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms controlling fate choice decisions of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells by combining genetic mouse models with high speed cell sorting and genome wide high throughput technologies. We are especially interested in how genetic and epigenetic stem cell pathways are disrupted in cancer.
Undergraduate studies in biology at the University of Würzburg, Germany
PhD studies with Prof. Ivan Horak at the Research Institute of Molecular Pharmacology and at the Free University of Berlin, Germany
Postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Daniel G. Tenen at the Harvard Institutes of Medicine in Boston, USA
Instructor of medicine (junior faculty) with Prof. Daniel G. Tenen at the Harvard Institutes of Medicine in Boston, USA
Independent junior group leader at the Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany
Professor and department director at the IMTB