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Skin cancer constitutes a world-wide health issue of increasing importance as its incidence is continuously rising due to environmental factors and the aging population. Malignant melanoma is associated with a high mortality due to its tremendous metastatic potential. A similar number of deaths are caused annually by non-melanoma skin cancer, which is the most frequent cancer worldwide.
As considerable therapeutic optimism has been recently raised by the development of designer drugs that target oncogenic signalling pathways and the tumor immune escape in skin cancer, the RTG focuses on a timely and evolving field of innovative research with a major socioeconomic impact on Western societies.
RTG Research Program
The RTG will contribute considerably to a better understanding of skin cancer biology by addressing burning questions such as the molecular and cellular mechanisms (1) of skin cancer dissemination and metastasis, including skin cancer stem cells and the tumor vasculature and (2) of primary skin cancer resistance to apoptosis and immunity. All projects aim at identifying and validating novel therapeutic targets towards these hallmarks of skin cancer. The RTG research program builds on the intense collaboration of the applicants’ laboratories in the Heidelberg-Mannheim Skin Cancer Alliance whose collective expertise in skin cancer biology is unique in Germany.
RTG Educational Program
The educational program is aimed at attracting young scientists to a hitherto under-developed field of research. The PhD/MD students will be trained in a broad portfolio of research skills and will also receive complementary teaching to increase their clinical knowledge. The RTG will closely collaborate with the existing Life Science Graduate Schools of Heidelberg University, and of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) to recruit the best PhD students worldwide, and to provide teaching in basic molecular and cellular biology, as well as in general cancer biology and oncology. The added value of the RTG teaching program will lie in applying these general topics to the specifics of skin cancer biology and dermato-oncology. In addition, the RTG will support the PhD/MD students to conceive and realize scientific and teaching initiatives of their own, such as student project development platforms and student conferences. This will enable them later to develop their own research agenda in the field.
In addition, the RTG will profit from the close scientific collaboration set up with the St. John’s Institute of Dermatology, King’s College, London, UK, one of the most renowned academic institutions in clinical and experimental dermatology worldwide. Beyond the St. John’s Institute, the RTG includes the participation of an inter-institutional, University of London and Cancer Research UK-based faculty of scientific project partners in the Metropolitan Area of London with outstanding expertise across the spectrum of relevant basic, translational and clinical science. TheLondonproject partners are committed to the goals of the RTG and will engage in pushing the scientific projects forward and help the PhD students develop their scientific carreers in an international environment.