About us

Our research focuses on understanding the effects of low dose radiation exposure and on studies to increase the effectiveness and specificity of tumor radiotherapy. This research programme is carried out by four interlinked research groups:

Individual genetic susceptibility and radiation carcinogenesis (PI Dr. Michael Rosemann): We study the inherent differences in susceptibility of different inbred mouse strains to radiation-induced osteosarcoma and thyroid cancer. We have established that functional differences in the retinoblastoma gene (Rb1) play a major role in determining susceptibility to osteosarcoma. We are now investigating how Rb1 actually modifies the radiation response by focussing on the maintenance of genome integrity during radiation-induced carcinogenesis.

Non-cancer effects of low dose radiation (PI Dr. Soile Tapio): The mechanism of radiation-induced cardiovascular damage is being studied using proteomic and metabolomic platforms. Network analysis indicates that cellular stress due to mitochondrial damage and free radical production determines tissue-level responses in the endothelium and cardiomyocytes. The components of the stress reaction are being studied in vitro and in vivo to develop mathematical models (Prof. Wolfgang Heidenreich).

Clinicaly Radiobiology (PI Dr. Simone Mörtl): The cellular response to radiation in normal and tumour tissues is studied by following the response of microRNAs and their downstream targets. We have established that a limited number of microRNAs is essential for the triggering of a successful apoptotic response following therapeutic doses of radiation. We are now investigating which other cellular processes are regulated by the microRNA response. In particular, we are focussing on the responses to hypoxia and inflammation in combination with radiation (Dr. Fred Ahne). We are using these strategies to develop new methods for the early detection of adverse radiation responses during treatment.

Personalized radiation therapy (PI Dr. Natasa Anastasov): The individual elements involved in the radiation response are being studied to identify new interventional strategies for cancer therapy. We study tumour microRNA levels to identify new tumour response predictors and employ lentiviral vectors to modulate their expression for target validation. We are currently developing a new program to use the HMGU high-throughput screening platform to identify biologically active small molecules with the potential to influence radiation therapy outcomes.