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Section Experimental & Translational Head-Neck Oncology



Malignant tumors of the head and neck region rank among the world's most common cancers. More than 90% of these tumors originate from epithelial tissues lining the mouth and throat. The most important risk factors are tobacco and alcohol consumption as well as infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). In particular, HPV infection in patients has been shown to be associated with oropharyngeal cancer.


Despite numerous advances in the diagnosis and therapy of head-neck cancer in recent decades (e.g. introduction of multimodal therapy concepts) the prognosis for patients with advanced cancer has improved only marginally. Importantly, local recurrences and metastases frequently lead to treatment failure. Therefore, we need to have a sound understanding of the basic mechanisms involved in the generation and spread of head-neck cancer in order to devise better strategies for diagnosis and effective treatment.


Our research program is based on experimental studies of patient tumor samples and pre-clinical model systems derived from these tumors as well as cancer cell lines. Within the framework of an interdisciplinary-cum-translational research involving scientists from diverse disciplines (biologists, biostatisticians, medical doctors and pathologists) we employ state-of-the-art technologies from various fields (e.g. functional genomics, proteomics, molecular biology) to investigate the molecular principles underlying the pathogenesis of head-neck tumors. In the long term, we aim to establish robust biomarkers for stratification of patients at high risk for treatment failure and innovative molecular targets for more effective and less toxic treatment options.



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