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Skin cancer constitutes a world-wide health issue of increasing importance due to environmental factors and the aging population. Notably, malignant melanoma is a prime example for the highly successful development of novel drugs that target oncogenic signaling pathways and of immune checkpoint inhibitors that empower effective tumor immunity. Thus, melanoma represents a rapidly evolving field of innovative basic, translational and clinical research.
RTG Research Program
In its second funding period, the RTG will focus on melanoma and its interactions with the tumor microenvironment and the tumor immune system as actionable hallmarks of skin cancer. The RTG will address the mechanisms involved in local and systemic control of tumor progression including angiodiversity-related metastatic organotropism as well as novel innate and adaptive approaches to melanoma immunity / immunotherapy. The RTG relies on the close collaboration in the Heidelberg-Mannheim Skin Cancer Alliance whose collective expertise in skin cancer is unique in Germany.
RTG Educational Program
The educational program is aimed at attracting young scientists to a still under-developed field of research and has been further adapted to the needs of the students in response to our teaching experience during the first funding period. The PhD and MD students will be trained in a broad range of research skills as well as to understand the clinical challenges in skin cancer. The RTG will closely collaborate with the Life Science Graduate Schools of Heidelberg University and of the DKFZ to recruit the best PhD students worldwide and to provide teaching in molecular and cellular biology and in general cancer biology. The added value of the RTG teaching program will lie in applying this knowledge to skin cancer biology and Dermato-Oncology. The RTG will support the PhD and MD students to realize scientific and teaching initiatives of their own, such as the overwhelmingly successful international students’ conference 2017 in Heidelberg. This experience will enable the students to self-confidently develop their own research agenda in the field.
The RTG has tremendously profited from the close collaboration with King’s College in London and its associated inter-institutional, University of London- and Cancer Research UK-based faculty with an outstanding expertise across a broad spectrum of relevant science. The RTG will now also collaborate with the Institut Gustave Roussy in Paris, the largest Clinical Cancer Center in Europe with a major focus on melanoma immunotherapy. The London and Paris collaboration partners are committed to the goals of the RTG and will support the PhD/MD students to develop their scientific careers in an international environment. Altogether, in the RTG we will perform high quality research projects and train PhD and MD students to work closely together to fight skin cancer.