FACULTY MEMBER

Axel HILLMER

Group Leader

RESEARCH

The main research focus of my group is on cancer genomics, which is a fast evolving field with many clinical, biological, and technical aspects. As part of collaborations with various local and international clinical partners, we try to understand which genomic changes contribute to caner development, disease progression and treatment resistance. Our current focus is on lung cancer, chronic myelogenous leukemia, osteosarcoma, gastric cancer and colorectal cancer with an emphasis on phenomena which are more prevalent in Asian populations. We use various sequencing, array and optical mapping approaches to identify structural variations, point mutations and small insertions and deletions (indels) as well as changes in RNA expression and eptigenetics. We try to understand the mechanisms which underlie somatically acquired genomic alterations. These mechanisms can be quite different between cancer types. We work closely with our bioinformatics colleagues on integrative analyses to identify significantly mutated genes and cancer type specific mutational profiles. Together with functional cell biological experiments, this allows us to gain new insights in the pathophysiology of cancer.
Circulating tumor cells (CTC) and circulating tumor nucleic acids (ctNA) provide a great opportunity for diagnosis and monitoring of cancer patients. We work on single cell RNA and DNA sequencing protocols to understand heterogeneity and characteristics of CTCs and the use of ctNAs for patient management.
Another field of our interest is on the genetic variability which contributes to hair loss. We work in collaboration with the University of Bonn and the Centre for Cutaneous Research, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry on the genetic basis of male pattern baldness. Guided by our understanding of the genomic regions which contribute to hair loss-risk, we use model cell lines and next generation sequencing approaches to unravel the regulatory mechanisms which underlie baldness.

KEY ACHIEVEMENTS

  • 2006-2007 Pfizer Consumer Healthcare; European Research Grant for Research on Alopecia

    2008 German Federal Ministry of Science and Education; Program: National Genome Research Network (NGFNplus); Systematic investigation of the molecular causes of major mood disorders and schizophrenia (MooDS) - Allele-specific expression

    2013-2018 National Medical Research Council, Translational & Clinical Research:

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