This Fellowship is awarded for a period of two years to early career clinician scientists undergoing medical specialist training with a strong interest in molecular medicine research topics. The fellows are integrated within the clinical setting of the Medical Faculty and aim at doing research at the interface of medicine and basic molecular biology and have the opportunity to work at a laboratory at the medical campus (e.g. OMZ) or at the EMBL. The fellows conduct their research in collaboration with a matching EMBL group.

CDF awardee Summer 2015:

CDF awardee Summer 2015:

Susanne Dittrich, MD

Susanne is a physician scientist in the Department of Pneumology and Critical Care Medicine of the Thoraxklinik and the Department of Translational Pulmonology at the University Hospital Heidelberg, both members of the Translational Lung Research Center Heidelberg (TLRC).


2013, approbation/license to practice medicine, Dresden University of Technology.
Research fellow at the Department of Translational Pulmonology, Translational Lung Research Center Heidelberg (TLRC), since 2014.
Physician undertaking specialty training at the Department of Pneumology and Critical Care Medicine, Thoraxklinik at the University Hospital Heidelberg, since 2014.

2015, MD Thesis, Dresden University of Technology.
HRCMM Career Development Fellowship, since 2015.

Clinical host: Prof. Dr. med. Marcus Mall, Department of Translational Pulmonology and Department of Pediatric Oncology, Hematology, Immunology and Pulmonology

EMBL host
: PD Dr. Carsten Schultz, Cell Biology and Biophysics

Disease studied: Chronic Airway Diseases

Airway inflammation is a main characteristic of chronic lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or cystic fibrosis (CF), the most common lethal inherited disease in western countries. Previous studies indicate that imbalances of protease-antiprotease networks are crucial contributors to structural lung damage and disease progression. Therefore, quantification of protease activity could provide a valuable, non-invasive tool for the monitoring of disease activity, evaluation of anti-inflammatory therapies and a better understanding of the underlying pathophysiology.

In the current project, Susanne studies the role of membrane-associated and free protease activity in airway secretions from patients with CF and COPD. For this purpose, she uses a novel approach based on Foerster resonance energy transfer (FRET).


May 2015: American Thoracic Society Abstract Scholarship Award of the Assembly on Clinical Problems

June 2015: Young Investigator Award of the European Cystic Fibrosis Society, pdf

Contact: Susanne.Dittrich

CDF awardee February 2015:

CDF awardee February 2015:

Johannes Pfeil, MD

Johannes is a physician for Pediatric Rheumatology and Infectious Diseases at the Hospital for Children and Adolescents of Heidelberg University(General Pediatrics).


2007 MD thesis, University Heidelberg
Residency in General Pediatrics, University of Würzburg, Germany (2007-2008)
Physician at the Center for Childhood and Adolescent Medicine (General Pediatrics), University Hospital Heidelberg, since 2008

Board certification in General Pediatrics, 2012
Board certification Pediatric Rheumatology, 2014
Board certification Infectious Diseases, 2015

HRCMM Career Development Fellowship, since 2015.

Clinical host: Dr. Ann-Kristin Müller, Center for Infectious Diseases, Parasitology Unit, University Hospital Heidelberg

EMBL host: Dr. Jeroen Krijgsveld, Genome Biology

Disease studied: Malaria

Malaria, a parasite infection of red blood cells, kills roughly 2000 people per day, most of whom are children in Africa. In experimental immunization trials, intravenous administration of whole attenuated malaria parasites successfully protected humans against wild-type malaria infection. Even though this concept is unfeasible for direct translation towards routine vaccination, it still serves as a model to investigate protective immune responses against malaria.   

By applying advanced mass spectrometric analysis, Johannes wants to identify critical targets of protective immunity induced by whole-parasite immunization at the very early and clinically silent malaria liver stage.  The successful identification of these targets may provide the basis for future development of highly protective subunit malaria vaccines.


CDF awardee 2014:

CDF awardee 2014:

Sascha Dietrich, MD

Sascha is physician undergoing specialty training for Hematology and Oncology in the Department of Hematology, Oncology and Rheumatology at the University Medical Center for Internal Medicine, Heidelberg.


2007 MD thesis, University of Jena.
Residency in Internal Medicine and Hematology at Heidelberg University Hospital, since 2006.
Emergency medicine board certification, since 2011.
HRCMM Career Development Fellowship, since 2014.

Clinical hosts: Anthony D. Ho, Department of Internal Medicine V: Opens external link in new windowHematology, Oncology and Rheumatology, Heidelberg University Hospital
Thorsten Zenz, Department of Translational Oncology, Opens external link in new windowSection Lymphoma Research, National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg

EMBL host: Opens external link in new windowWolfgang Huber, Genome Biology

Disease studied: Hematologic cancers, lympho- proliferative diseases (LPD)

Most cancer patients are treated with chemotherapy irrespective of diverse biology, but the discovery of key pathogenetic mutations has already transformed the treatment of specific cancer types. Successful examples of hematologic cancers include BCR-ABL inhibition of chronic myeloid leukaemia and as recently published by us, BRAF inhibition in hairy cell leukaemia.
We are aiming to understand the functional role of critical signalling pathways in lympho- proliferative diseases (LPD) and to determine the biological basis for differential response to genotype specific treatment. Pathway sensitivity and resistance of primary human tumour cells will be systematically mapped ex vivo using large and diverse compound libraries (up to 2500 compounds) across leukaemia s and lymphoma subtypes (refractory CLL, T-PLL, B-PLL, MCL, LPL, FL) to functionally group patients according to drug sensitivities. Paired with detailed molecular characterization of all tumour samples, and available clinical follow-up of the same patients, this novel and innovative approach provides unique opportunities to identify key pathways that determine sensitivity to specific drugs and drug combinations with the immediate potential for clinical translation.


CDF awardees 2013:

CDF awardees 2013:

Joachim Kunz, MD

Joachim is an attending physician for Pediatric Hematology and Oncology in the Department of Pediatric Oncology, Hematology, Immunology and Pulmonology at the Hospital for Children and Adolescents of Heidelberg University.


2002 MD thesis, approbation/license to practice medicine, University of Tübingen.
Medical specialist in pediatric hematology and oncology, University Medical Center for Children and Adolescents, Heidelberg, since 2009.
Attending physician in pediatric hematology and oncology, University Medical Center for Children and Adolescents, Heidelberg, since 2013.
HRCMM Career Development Fellowship since 2013.

Clinical host: Andreas E. Kulozik, Department of Pediatric Oncology, Hematology, Immunology and Pulmonology
University Medical Center for Children and Adolescents, Heidelberg

EMBL host: Jan Korbel, Genome Biology

Disease studied: T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) in children

Leukemia is the most common malignancy in childhood. T-ALL accounts for approximately 15% of all ALL in children and adolescents. Whereas the primary T-ALL can be cured in more than 80% of patients with current treatment protocols, relapsed T-ALL is almost invariably fatal: during the time between first diagnosis and relapse, T-ALL evolves into a resistant disease by acquiring new mutations induced by chemotherapy and by selection of subclones. Using whole exome sequencing, Joachim hopes to find mechanisms of treatment resistance and understand the evolution of T-ALL during a patient’s course of disease.


The activating STAT5B N642H mutation is a common abnormality in pediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and confers a higher risk of relapse.
Bandapalli OR, Schuessele S, Kunz JB, Rausch T, Stütz AM, Tal N, Geron I, Gershman N, Izraeli S, Eilers J, Vaezipour N, Kirschner-Schwabe R, Hof J, von Stackelberg A, Schrappe M, Stanulla M, Zimmermann M, Koehler R, Avigad S, Handgretinger R, Frismantas V, Bourquin JP, Bornhauser B, Korbel JO, Muckenthaler MU, Kulozik AE.
Haematologica. 2014 Oct;99(10):e188-92. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2014.104992. Epub 2014 Jun 27.

Pädiatrie 4. Auflage
Kunz J, Kulozik A
Kap 178 Erythrozyten,2014,  S 1429-56 Hrsg: Hoffmann, Lentze, Spranger, Zepp: Springer ISBN 978-3-642-41865-5



Lorenz Lehmann, MD

Lorenz is a physician for Cardiology in the Department of Cardiology, Angiology and Pulmonology, at the University Medical Center for Internal Medicine, Heidelberg.


2006 MD thesis, University of Heidelberg.
Physician undertaking specialty training at the Department of Cardiology, Angiology and Pulmonology, University Hospital Heidelberg, since 2007.
Research fellow in experimental cardiology, Johannes Backs lab, University of Heidelberg, since 2007.
HRCMM Career Development Fellowship since 2013.

Clinical host: Opens external link in new windowHugo A. Katus, Department of Cardiology, Angiology and Pulmonology, University Hospital Heidelberg

EMBL host: Eileen Furlong, Genome Biology

Disease studied: Heart failure

Research focus: Heart failure is one of the main causes of death in the western world. Previously, histone deacetylase 4 (HDAC4) was identified as a cardioprotective factor. Understanding the molecular basis of its posttranslational modifications enabled the development of potential therapeutic tools for the treatment of heart diseases. For instance, the N-terminal part of HDAC4 inhibits specific transcription factors such as MEF2, which is one of the key regulators for pathological cardiac remodeling which leads ultimately to heart failure.

During the HRCMM project Lorenz aims to comprehensively identify MEF2 and HDAC4 regulated genes via ChIP-seq experiments. Subsequently, he will study their contribution to the transition from a healthy to a diseased heart. It is the overall goal to gain a deep understanding of the epigenetic modifications driven by HDAC4 and to identify epigenetic drug targets for cardioprotection.


Essential role of sympathetic endothelin A receptors for adverse cardiac remodeling.
Lehmann LH, Rostosky JS, Buss SJ, Kreusser MM, Krebs J, Mier W, Enseleit F, Spiger K, Hardt SE, Wieland T, Haass M, Lüscher TF, Schneider MD, Parlato R, Gröne HJ, Haberkorn U, Yanagisawa M, Katus HA, Backs J. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Sep 2. pii: 201409026. [Epub ahead of print]

CaM Kinase II mediates maladaptive post-infarct remodeling and pro-inflammatory chemoattractant signaling but not acute myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury.
Weinreuter M, Kreusser MM, Beckendorf J, Schreiter FC, Leuschner F, Lehmann LH, Hofmann KP, Rostosky JS, Diemert N, Xu C, Volz HC, Jungmann A, Nickel A, Sticht C, Gretz N, Maack C, Schneider MD, Gröne HJ, Müller OJ, Katus HA, Backs J. EMBO Mol Med. 2014 Sep 5. pii: e201403848. doi: 10.15252/emmm.201403848. [Epub ahead of print]

The Cardiac CaMKII Genes δ and γ Contribute Redundantly to Adverse Remodeling but Inhibit Calcineurin-Induced Myocardial Hypertrophy.
Kreusser MM, Lehmann LH, Keranov S, Hoting MO, Kohlhaas M, Reil JC, Neumann K, Schneider MD, Hill JA, Dobrev D, Maack C, Maier LS, Gröne HJ, Katus HA, Olson EN, Backs J.
Circulation. 2014 Aug 14. pii: CIRCULATIONAHA.114.006185. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:25124496

Depletion of globosides and isoglobosides fully reverts the morphologic phenotype of Fabry disease.
Porubsky S, Jennemann R, Lehmann L, Gröne HJ.
Cell Tissue Res. 2014 Jul 4. [Epub ahead of print]

Histone deacetylase signaling in cardioprotection.
Lehmann LH, Worst BC, Stanmore DA, Backs J.
Cell Mol Life Sci. 2013 Dec 6.

The role of endothelin-1 in the sympathetic nervous system in the heart.
Lehmann LH, Stanmore DA, Backs
J. Life Sci. 2014 Mar 13. pii: S0024-3205(14)00317-8. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2014.03.005. [Epub ahead of print] Review. PMID: 24632477


April 2013: Lorenz Lehmann receives Rudi Busse - Young Investigator Award for his work in experimental cardiovascular research.



Stephan Singer, MD

Stephan is a physician for Pathology in the Department of General Pathology at the Institute of Pathology Heidelberg, IPH.


2005 MD thesis, University of Heidelberg.
Physician undertaking specialty training at the Institute of Pathology, University Medical Center Heidelberg, since 2005.
2008 Postdoc Columbia University New York City, USA.
2011 Gerok fellowship SFB/TRR77.
HRCMM Career Development Fellowship since 2013.

Clinical host: Opens external link in new windowPeter Schirmacher, Institute of Pathology Heidelberg

EMBL host: Martin Beck, Structural and Computational Biology

Disease studied: Liver cancer

Research focus: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most frequent malignancies world-wide with an increasing incidence and a poor prognosis. Signalling cascades of (hepato-)carcinogenic pathways pass the nuclear envelope through the nuclear pore complex (NPC). The NPC is a multiprotein complex spanning the nuclear envelope and consists of ~30 nucleoporins (Nups). The project investigates compositional changes of the NPC occurring in the process of hepatocarcinogenesis and to what extent NPC remodelling modulates liver cancer-relevant pathways. In collaboration with the Beck lab (EMBL) Stephan will address this in vitro and in vivo by using targeted and non-targeted mass spectrometry, gene expression arrays, cell-based assays, murine HCC models, and human HCC samples. Tumour-specific alterations of the NPC may provide the basis for novel therapeutic approaches.


Overexpression of far upstream element (FUSE) binding protein (FBP)-interacting repressor (FIR) supports growth of hepatocellular carcinoma
Malz, M., Bovet, M., Samarin, J., Rabenhorst, U., Sticht, C., Bissinger, M., Roessler, S., Lorenzo Bermejo, J., Renner, M., Calvisi, D. F., Singer, S., Ganzinger, M., Weber, A., Gretz, N., Zornig, M., Schirmacher, P., and Breuhahn, K.
Hepatology 60,1241-50, 2014

Prosurvival function of the cellular apoptosis susceptibility/importin-α1 transport cycle is repressed by p53 in liver cancer.
Winkler J1, Ori A, Holzer K, Sticht C, Dauch D, Eiteneuer EM, Pinna F, Geffers R, Ehemann V, Andres-Pons A, Breuhahn K, Longerich T, Lorenzo Bermejo J, Gretz N, Zender L, Schirmacher P, Beck M, Singer S.
Hepatology. 2014 May 6. doi: 10.1002/hep.27207. [Epub ahead of print]


July 2014: Stephan Singer receives the Hella-Bühler-Award for his outstanding work in cancer research.