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Palliative Care


Our palliative care unit currently has 8 beds. Goal of palliative medicine is to improve the quality of life of patients and their families facing problems associated with life-threatening diseases, including relief from suffering, treatment of pain and other distressing symptoms, and psychological and spiritual care.

A highly dedicated palliative care team has been established comprising various professional groups, such as psychosocial and pastoral services, psychooncologists, physiotherapists, nutrition specialists as well as music and art therapists.

The palliative care unit cooperates with the Hospice Agathe Streicher in Ulm.

News and Press Releases 2015



Publication analysis by the media group Thomson Reuters
Three from Ulm among the most influential researchers in the world
Three of the world's most influential scientists in their field do research at Ulm University. This result stems from the North American media company Thomson Reuters’ publication analysis "The world's most influential scientific minds of 2014". The recently released ranking used the citation databases "Web of Science" and "incites", in which researchers were determined who have been cited the most (top 1% in the year of publication) by their peers in professional articles from 2002 to 2012. Among these approximately 3,200 pioneers from 21 subjects, two physicians are from Ulm: Professors Hartmut Döhner and Heiko Braak. Add to that the physics professor Fedor Jelezko.

In the currently published table one can also find scientists who were most often cited in the years 2012 and 2013. Submit articles ("hot papers") are considered to be highly relevant.
"This publications analysis confirms that Ulm University is an attractive location for leading world-class researchers," says Prof. Axel Groß, Ulm University’s Vice President for Research and Information Technology.

Heiko Braak, senior professor at the Department of Neurology / Center for Clinical Research at Ulm’s University Hospital, is one of the most cited researchers in neuroscience and behavioral sciences. Braak deals with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson. The physician has developed an international classification scheme in which the course of Alzheimer's disease can be sorted in stages based on typical brain changes.
Research focus of Professor Hartmut Döhner, Medical Director of the Department of Internal Medicine III, coordinator of the "Comprehensive Cancer Center Ulm" and University Vice President for Medicine, are the most common blood cancer diseases in adults, acute myeloid and chronic lymphocytic leukemias. He has discovered genetic alterations that can provide information on disease progression and therapeutic responses. Based on these findings, new molecular-targeted therapies can be developed. International guidelines used for the treatment of blood cancer are based on Döhner’s cancer research. According to Thomson Reuters’ publication analysis Döhner is one of the most cited scientists in clinical medicine.

A physicist from Ulm is also listed by Thomson Reuters: Professor Fedor Jelezkos’ focus are color centers in diamond, where contaminations can be stored and controlled. This is by no means abstract fundamental research, but important for all technologies based on quantum coherence – for example high-performance sensors, imaging and novel quantum computers. At the end of 2012 Jelezko was awarded an ERC Synergy Grant in the amount of 10.3 million euros, along with his colleagues Professors Martin Plenio and Tanja Weil (group BioQ).

Overall, 159 German scientists are in the rankings, including 21 in Baden-Württemberg. Eight of them do research at the University of Heidelberg. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the University of Hohenheim steer, like Ulm University, three scientists.

For more information on the ranking: Jan-Christian Möller (Office of Quality Management, Reporting and Revision): Tel: 0731-50-25106,


Original article in German by Annika Bingmann


Prof. Heiko Braak: According to Thomson Reuters publication analysis, Prof. Heiko Braak was named one of the most influential neuroscientists. (Photo: Leopoldina)
Prof. Hartmut Döhner, one of the most cited leukemia researchers in the world. (Photo: Grandel / University Hospital)
Physics Prof. Fedor Jelezko is a very successful researcher of artificial diamonds. (Photo: Eberhardt / University of Ulm)

News and Press Releases 2014



Researcher, teacher and patient advocate

Prof. Hermann Heimpel dies at the age of 84 years


Professor Hermann Heimpel decisively shaped the University Hospital of Ulm - in research, teaching and administration. On October 7th, the former Medical Director of the Department of Internal Medicine III (1969-1996) and former Vice-Rector of Ulm University died at the age of 84 years. "We learned with great sadness of the death of Professor Heimpel. As a doctor, a highly respected researcher and an academic teacher, he was closely connected to the University Medical Center well beyond retirement. "He was not only greatly appreciated among his colleagues for his scientific reputation and human qualities," says University President Professor Karl Joachim Ebeling. Just last May the internationally renowned hematologist and oncologist was honored by the Prime Minister of the State of Baden Württemberg Winfried Kretschmann with the State Order of Merit – in particular for his contribution for improved care for cancer patients in Baden-Württemberg, for establishing the Ulm Cancer Center and the State Advisory Council for Oncology.

"Professor Heimpel was an extraordinary personality. He shaped hematology and oncology in Germany in the past decades like hardly anybody else. He was not only an exceptional doctor, curious scientist, dedicated teacher and academic visionary, but he was an especially wonderful person. He was all this until his last days for all who knew him, for the employees of our hospital, for his former and present students. We will all miss him very much," says Professor Hartmut Döhner, Medical Director of the Department of Internal Medicine III and successor of Hermann Heimpel.

Professor Hermann Heimpel studied medicine in Göttingen, Heidelberg, Innsbruck and Freiburg. He completed his internal medicine training in Freiburg under Professor Ludwig Heilmeyer, later founding rector of Ulm University. In 1969, Prof. Heimpel followed Prof. Heilmeyer to the young Ulm University, where he became the first Professor and Medical Director of the Department of Internal Medicine III. As a scientist Heimpel devoted himself to blood diseases such as leukemia and rare forms of anemia - panmyelopathy and aplastic anemia. Together with Dr. Klaus Schwarz of the Institute for Transfusion Medicine and Immunogenetics, he discovered, for example, one of the genes that is altered in congenital dyserythropoietic anemia (CDA). In addition, Heimpel contributed to better diagnosis and treatment of agranulocytosis, characterized by failure states of hematopoiesis, as well as certain leukemias. Further noteworthy: together with Professors Theodor Fliedner and Enno Kleihauer he established bone marrow transplantation in Ulm.  

The deceased was a member of national and international bodies such as President of the German Society of Hematology (1990-1996) and editor of the medical journal "Blut", to name a few. In short, the performance of his department paved the way for the DFG research group experimental and clinical leukemia research and the Collaborative Research Centers "cell system physiology" (112) and "lympho-hematopoiesis" (322).

Apart from research, patient orientation was particularly important to Professor Heimpel. At the age of 80, he became the patient ombudsman at the University Hospital and always had an open ear for the worries and concerns of the patient, whom he represented vis-à-vis doctors and the hospital administration. This ethical competence was something that the hematologist, who aided in setting up the Medical Faculty in Ulm as well as founder and chairman of the Teaching Commission in medicine, taught his students. He held, for example, a lecture entitled "clinic for pre-clinicians" with patient presentations and was a model for his handlings with seriously ill patients. Hermann Heimpel, who was Dean of Medicine from 1970 to 1982, held lectures for aspiring doctors until an advanced age.

His commitment to the University's self-government was also remarkable: From 1983 to 1985 Hermann Heimpel was Dean of the Medical Faculty and a member of the Senate, which brought the Ulm City of Science on its way. As Vice-Rector (1989-1991) he participated in the design of the University's expansion. In this context, Heimpel was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit in 1997 - one of his many awards.

Professor Hermann Heimpel, who originally wanted to become a country doctor, was, until recently, seen in the hospital almost daily. The University Hospital of Ulm grieves for a physician, scientist and patient friend, of which there is no equal.




Master guitarist Joscho Stephan offers patients great enthusiasm

Gypsy Swing for terminally ill cancer patients in the Department of Internal Medicine III

50 patients and staff of the Department of Internal Medicine III of the University Hospital of Ulm experienced a very special evening on Tuesday evening, May 27th 2014: The renowned guitarist Joscho Stephan and his trio gave a concert at the hospital. Normally, the visionary of modern gypsy swing performs at major German and European festivals, but last night he was there for people who cannot go to concerts because of their disease.

 Regaining strength for therapy

With his rousing music that combines gypsy swing with Latin, classical and pop, Joscho Stephan guaranteed a healthy distraction from the daily hospital routine accompanied by rhythm guitarist Günter Stephan and bass player Max Schaaf. The virtuoso music was just as much a treat as the caring nature of the musicians. "Entertainment and joy are very important for regaining strength for therapy and  for healing," says Prof. Dr. Hartmut Döhner, Medical Director of the Department of Internal Medicine III, where patients with diseases of the hematopoietic system, cancer and infectious diseases are treated. Physician Dr. Florian Kuchenbauer and other employees of the Department of Internal Medicine III regularly organize events for patients such as this one featuring famous artists. Most recent guests were Rola el Halabi and Max Raabe.

Joscho Stephan

The guitarist Stephan Joscho released his first album in 1999 with the prestigious label Acoustic Music Records. Meanwhile, the native of Mönchengladbach has released his sixth CD and performs at popular festivals in Germany and Europe. In the U.S., he has had concerts, among others, in the music capital of Nashville and New York’s cult jazz club Birdland.

Original article in German by Petra Schulze



High European award for cancer research from Ulm

Prof. Hartmut Döhner

Prof. Dr. Hartmut Döhner receives today in Milan, one of Europe's highest awards in cancer research. The European Hematology Association (EHA) awards the Ulm scientist and Medical Director of the Department of Internal Medicine III the EHA – José Carreras Award for his internationally groundbreaking research. Focus of the scientific work of the laureate are the two most common leukemias in adults, acute myeloid (AML) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
At the beginning of every innovative therapy is research

"I am very excited about this award, which is another great incentive for our scientific work in Ulm. At the beginning of every innovative therapy is research. We want to closely link basic research, clinical research and the development of treatment standards in order to help people", says laureate Professor Döhner.
The internationally renowned cancer researcher, who is also Vice President for Medicine, Gender and Diversity at Ulm University has, among others, identified genetic changes in leukemia. With their help, predictions about the course of the disease and the success of various therapies can be created for each patient. The research results of the Ulm hematologists are also incorporated in the international guidelines used for leukemia therapy. Professor Döhner is speaker of the Ulm Collaborative Research Centre "Experimental models and clinical translation in leukemia." funded by the German Research Foundation. He also heads one of the world's leading cooperative groups for AML, the German-Austrian AML Study Group. As speaker of the Comprehensive Cancer Center Ulm (CCCU) he works daily on the innovative cross-disciplinary care for cancer patients. Since 1999 as Medical Director of the Department of Internal Medicine III, he has been caring for patients with diseases of the hematopoietic and lymphatic system, cancer, infectious and rheumatic diseases.

Sustainable and promising research performance

The research results of the award winner born in Bad Kreuznach appear regularly in renowned scientific journals. Professor Döhner, who has done research in Heidelberg and Minnesota (USA), has already been honored with high-level international awards, including the Anita and Cuno Wieland Prize and the William Warner Prize. Professor Döhner is also a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences.
The EHA - José Carreras Award has been awarded since 1999 for sustainable and future-oriented research achievements in the field of hematology. The prize is one of the highest international awards of this field and is not endowed. The award is connected to a lecture during the Opening Ceremony of the European Hematology Congress. The congress takes place in Milan June 12th – 15th.

Original article in German by Petra Schulze



New Vice President for Medicine and Diversity at the University of Ulm

Prof. Hartmut Döhner takes on the chairmanship as Debatin-successor

Professor Hartmut Döhner, Medical Director of the Department of Internal Medicine III, will be the new Vice President for Medicine and Diversity at Ulm University. The internist follows Professor Klaus-Michael Debatin, who has filled this office since 2010. Debatin is the Medical Director of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine in addition to being the Chief Medical Director of the University Hospital since October 2013. These are the two roles he will focus on in the future. "I am grateful to Professor Debatin for his successful tenure as Vice President and am very happy to continue the excellent cooperation with him as director of the Hospital," says University President Professor Karl Joachim Ebeling.
The new Vice President Hartmut Döhner has been unanimously elected for three years by the Senate and now confirmed by the University Council. "For the successful development of Ulm University, particularly in medicine and the life sciences, it is extremely important that we have gained with Prof. Döhner a proven professional representative in both research and patient care", says Ebeling . He looks forward to the cooperation.

Internationally renowned cancer researcher

Hartmut Döhner is an internationally renowned cancer researcher. The focus of his scientific work is acute myeloid and chronic lymphocytic leukemias (AML/CLL) - the most common blood cancers in adults. The physician has identified genetic changes in leukemia, through which disease progression and therapeutic success can be assessed. A risk profile can be created and chosen for each patient, thus determining which treatment is most expedient. International guidelines used for the treatment of leukemia are based on Hartmut Döhner’s scientific knowledge. With the aim of identifying new therapeutic approaches, the native of Bad Kreuznach explores causes of acute myeloid leukemia and directs the German - Austrian AML Study Group (AMLSG) - one of the world's leading mergers in this area.

At his home university, the cancer researcher is Director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center Ulm (CCCU) as well as Coordinating Principal Investigator of the Collaborative Research Center 1074 "Experimental Models and Clinical Translation in leukemia."

Professor Döhner studied medicine in Regensburg, Freiburg and Montpellier, France. His training as a specialist in internal medicine as well as hematology and medical oncology took place at the University Hospital Heidelberg. In the late 1980s Döhner, with a grant from the German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe), explored the genetics of cancer at the University of Minnesota (USA). He has been the head of the Department of Internal Medicine III at the University Hospital Ulm (focus on hematology, oncology , palliative care , rheumatology and infectious diseases) since 1999.

Scientific excellence and versatile research focus

Awards such as the Anita and Cuno Wieland Prize, the William Warner Prize and frequently-cited articles in peer-reviewed journals prove Döhner’s academic excellence. In addition to these, he holds memberships in national and international committees and professional societies. Since 2012, Hartmut Döhner is also a full member of the Berlin- Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. He has clear ideas for his tenure as Vice President: "In order to maintain and further expand on national and international competitiveness, a clear scientific    profile in medicine and the life sciences is necessary. This I see in Ulm, especially in the fields of hematology and oncology, trauma research , aging and neurodegeneration. In order to strengthen the structure of the site, we will work together to advance the establishment of an extra-universitary medical research institute. “

Original article in German by: Petra Schulze

News & Press Releases 2013

Prof. Dr. S. Stilgenbauer and Prof. Dr. H. Döhner; University Hospital Ulm


New hope beyond chemotherapy

Specific treatment approaches for patients with leukemia and lymphoma

A team of doctors at the University Hospital of Ulm has contributed to the development of a novel treatment for the most common form of leukemia (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) as well as a particular form of lymphoma (mantle cell lymphoma). They were involved in a clinical study in which the effect of a new drug, Ibrutinib, was tested which, unlike conventional chemotherapy, seeks out and attaches itself to certain biological properties of cancer cells. It showed, among other things, that patients, for whom chemotherapy was not effective, could be treated successfully with Ibrutinib. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia and mantle cell lymphoma are until today life-threatening diseases that are not curable in adults, but at best controllable.

 New chances for successful therapy

"For patients for whom chemotherapy is no longer effective or whose leukemia cells exhibit particularly unfavorable genetic changes, such as the so -called 17p13 deletion, the new drug may offer chances for a successful therapy," explains Prof. Dr. Stephan Stilgenbauer, Managing Chief Physician at the department of Internal Medicine III at Ulm University Hospital. In 68 percent of these leukemia patients, the progression of the disease could be stopped. In patients with normal genetic conditions that were previously treated with chemotherapy, the disease gradually discontinued in 71 percent of leukemia patients and 68 percent of lymphoma patients. In total, nearly 200 patients were enrolled at eight sites in the study. The overall results were published in the renowned journal New England Journal of Medicine (DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1215637 and DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa130622) and recently presented at conferences.

 Earlier access to innovative therapies

The University Hospital, with its special expertise and infrastructure, provides patients with serious illnesses the opportunity to get early access to innovative therapies in well -monitored clinical trials. The effect of new many new, already previously tested research-driven pharmaceutical drugs, are further scientifically investigated in these clinical trials. Ibrutinib is an inhibitor which has an effect on a protein (Bruton's tyrosine kinase, BTK), which is responsible and crucial for the development and progression of leukemia and lymphoma. "The peculiarity is therefore the fact that the drug specifically targets particular biological characteristics of the leukemia or lymphoma cells," explains Prof. Dr. Hartmut Döhner, Medical Director of the Department of Internal Medicine III and speaker of the Integrative Tumor Center of the University Hospital and Medical Faculty (CCCU).  “This means that this treatment targets specific cancer cells while, unlike in chemotherapy, healthy cancer cells are spared,” said Döhner.

In further work the doctors of the Department of Internal Medicine III managed to decipher why, in a small group of patients, the disease can not be permanently controlled by this medication. "The decoding of these resistance mechanisms is an important starting point to develop new treatments opportunities," says Professor Stilgenbauer with certainty.

Original in German article by: Petra Schultze

Prof. K. Döhner, Prof. H. Döhner, Prof. R. Schlenk; University Hospital Ulm


Cure for Specific Form of Leukemia Possible

Ulm scientists publish results of their clinical trial in renowned journal, The New England Journal of Medicine.

A team of medical doctors at the University Hospital of Ulm has developed a new therapy for a particular type of acute leukemia, the so-called acute promyelocytic leukemia. The special feature of this treatment is that it works without the use of conventional chemotherapy. Two compounds dismantle  a pathogenic protein generated by a generic rearrangement which leads to the transformation of the bone marrow cells and thereby the specific leukemia. 98 percent of patients can be cured without the use of chemotherapy.

Clinical studies essential for the development of new therapies

The clinical trial was conducted jointly by three study groups, the Italian GIMEMA group, the Study Alliance Leukemia (SAL) and the German-Austrian Acute Myeloid Leukemia Study Group (AMLSG). "We have found that the combination of two active compounds, a vitamin A derivative (all-trans retinoic acid, ATRA) and the arsenic compound arsenic trioxide, significantly  improves the cure rate of the disease compared to conventional therapy," explains Prof. Dr. Hartmut Döhner, Medical Director of the Department of Internal Medicine III of Ulm University Hospital and head of AMLSG, one of the world’s  largest and most important study groups for the research and treatment of acute myeloid leukemia. So far, the promyelocytic leukemia is usually treated with a combination of chemotherapy and the administration of the vitamin A derivative ATRA.

"The study is an example of how important it is to conduct controlled clinical trials in the treatment of leukemia and cancer. Without this randomized study in which patients were randomly assigned to one of two treatment arms, we would not have achieved this result, "says Prof. Dr. Richard Schlenk, chief physician and head of the AMLSG Clinical Trial Office.


Two compounds allow renewed normal maturation of bone marrow cell

Leukemias are diseases of the hematopoietic and lymphatic system, also popularly known as "blood cancer". In acute promyelocytic leukemia we are dealing with a subtype of acute leukemia, which accounts for about 5 – 7% of acute myeloid leukemia and is life threatening. A special feature of this type of leukemia is that it is associated with a certain acquired genetic alteration: chromosomal segments are exchanged between chromosomes 15 and 17. Experts call this translocation. The exchange leads to a fusion of two genes (PML and RARA). This creates a new, abnormal protein, which is directly responsible for the transformation of bone marrow cells.

Both the vitamin A derivative ATRA and arsenic trioxide lead to the degradation of this protein, and allow for a renewed normal maturation of bone marrow cells. The vitamin A derivative ATRA, which stems from traditional Chinese medicine, was already introduced in the early 90s in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia.


Targeted rapid diagnosis crucial

To successfully use the new therapy, it is extremely important that the diagnosis is made within the first hours and treatment is initiated immediately. Acute promyelocytic leukemia may be associated with severe, life-threatening bleeding complications. "We can confirm the tentative diagnosis by demonstrating the typical fusion of the two genes (PML and RARA) at a molecular genetic level. This is done in our laboratory within 24 hours, 7 days a week, "explains Prof. Konstanze Döhner, chief physician and head of the Laboratory for Molecular Genetic Diagnosis of the Department of Internal Medicine III, which is both a reference laboratory for genetic diagnosis within the AMLSG as well as other studies carried out worldwide.

The results of the study were presented today in one of the most prestigious medical journals, the New England Journal of Medicine, published online (DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1300874).

Original article in German
by: Petra Schulze

The photo shows from left to right: Prof. Dr. Konstanze Döhner, chief physician and head of the Laboratory for Molecular Genetic Diagnosis of the Department of Internal Medicine III, Prof. Dr. Hartmut Döhner, Medical Director of the Ulm University Hospital of Internal Medicine III and head of the German-Austrian Acute Myeloid Leukemia Study Group (AMLSG), Prof. Dr. Richard Schlenk, Senior Physician and Head of the Study Centre of the Department of Internal Medicine III, Ulm University Hospital, and the AMLSG.



The fight back to life

Professional female boxer Rola El-Halabi gives patients courage

"I never give up!" writes Rola El-Halabi in her autobiography "Stehaufmädchen. How I fought myself back to the boxing world championship after my stepfather’s assassination attempt." On the evening of Wednesday, May 29th, the professional boxer from Ulm spoke with doctors and patients at the Department of Internal Medicine III, University Hospital of Ulm, about ways to handle blows and find new courage.
"Rola El-Halabi, like many of our patients, suffered a serious personal fate. She never gave up and managed, with much willpower, a way back to life.  People like her show that it is worth fighting, even in seemingly hopeless moments," said Prof. Dr. Hartmut Döhner, Medical Director of the Department of Internal Medicine III, in the evening’s opening introduction. In 2011 El-Halabi was shot by her stepfather and former manager immediately before the world title fight against the Bosnian Irma Adler. After several operations, she fought back, step by step, into life as a boxer.


Never lose faith

In a reading Rola El-Halabi gave insight into her moving biography, discussed with physicians and patients about how to deal with misfortunes, and the motivation to rediscover one‘s own courage. Interest in the life story of this professional boxer was great and many of the 40 patients took the opportunity to strike up a conversation with her. "I never lost faith in life or in myself, and always fought for my goals. I would like to convey this willpower to other people," said the 28-year-old.
Dr. Florian Kuchenbauer, physician at the Department of Internal Medicine III and initiator of the event, knows that people who have experienced suffering need special support. "With the visit of Rola El-Halabi, we want to give patients hope and courage. As a physician, I can explain the medical aspects, but people like her have a very different kind of motivation which sometimes makes it easier to reach those affected," said Dr. Kuchenbauer.

The attached picture shows (from left) Jelena Kunecki and Michael Kendel, both head nurses in the Department of Internal Medicine III, Dr. Florian Kuchenbauer, physician at the Department of Internal Medicine III, Rola El-Halabi and Prof. Dr. Hartmut Döhner, Medical Director of the Department of Internal Medicine III (Photo: University Hospital Ulm)

Original article in German


Franziska Kolb Prize 2012 Awarded to Dr. Verena I. Gaidzik 

Dr. Verena I. Gaidzik, clinical fellow and researcher at the University Hospital of Internal Medicine III Ulm, was awarded the "Franziska Kolb Prize for the Promotion of Leukemia Research" at this year’s Dies Academicus. The 33-year-old received a cash prize of 8,000 euros for her article "TET2 Mutations in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML): Results From a Comprehensive Genetic and Clinical Analysis of the AML Study Group" published in the 2012 "Journal of Clinical Oncology". In her article, Gaidzik describes the frequency and clinical significance of mutations of the tet oncogene family member 2 gene (TET2) in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the most common acute blood cancer in adults.

In recent years Dr. Gaidzik has examined, in the group of Prof. Konstanze Döhner and together with other scientists, several gene mutations in AML with regards to their clinical and prognostic significance. In collaboration with colleagues, Gaidzik as first author analysed for TET2 mutations in blood and bone marrow samples from 783 younger (18-60 years of age) AML patients. Gaidzik was able to detect 66 mutations in 60 affected patients. TET2-mutated AML patients were generally older; TET2 mutations had, however, no influence on treatment response and survival of patients. Here it will be important to examine, in a future study, TET2 mutations specifically in elderly AML patients in terms of their clinical relevance. In particular, the question to be clarified is whether active epigenetic substances in this context can improve the survival of patients. In her further scientific work, the internist also studies epigenetic acting DNMT3A mutations in AML patients. DNMT3A mutations were detected in as many as one fifth of a collective of 1,770 patients. Gaidzik certifies these genetic changes as a 'possible prognostic effect on survival as a function of the molecular subgroup and type of mutation. "

"Verena Gaidzik’s results offer an important contribution to the understanding of the molecular pathogenesis and possibly for individualized therapy of AML," said Gaidzik’s presenter Professor Hartmut Döhner, head of the Department of Internal Medicine III.

Verena Gaidzik studied at the University of Ulm until 2005 and received her medical doctorate degree with Professor Peter Gierschik, head of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology. A native of Ulm, she has been a specialist for internal medicine since 2012.

The former head of the Institute of Electrochemistry, Professor Dieter Kolb (1942-2011), founded the "Franziska Kolb Foundation for Leukemia Research" in memory of his wife Franziska Kolb, who died of leukemia in 1992. The Franziska Kolb prize is awarded annually for outstanding work in the field of Leukemia Research.


Original article in German

Dies Academicus 2013 - Ulm University


News 01/2013

Leukemia Researchers Search for Biomarker Treasure
By: Kristina Rudy (original article)

Ulm participates in 5.5 million euros EU supported international research project for personalized cancer medicine

No cancer is the same; even leukemia is not the same as leukemia. The difference lies in the genetic makeup: Each cancer has its own genetic fingerprint.

Cancer physicians therefore face a daily challenge in finding the right therapy for their patients as conventional chemotherapy does not always succeed because of these genetic differences. What is missing are diagnostic and therapeutic methods tailored to each individual patient according to their specific genetic changes. Through genome decoding in 2003 and the development of new efficient methods for the study of the human genome, the dream of "personalized medicine" has come within reach. With the participation of Ulm University, an international network of researchers and leukemia biotechnology companies is currently working at making this dream come true. Over the next three years the research network will receive 5.5 million euros from the European Union. Of this amount 450,000 € will go to the Department of Internal Medicine III at the University Hospital Ulm (Medical Director: Prof. Dr. Hartmut Döhner)

Cancer physicians are confronted with two problems in particular

"So far we are faced with two problems in the treatment of leukemia patients: First, we do not know in advance whether chemotherapy will work.  Second, the diagnosis of certain biomarkers that would possibly suggest another treatment, could take too long, "says Prof. Dr. Lars Bullinger. The leukemia researcher, together with his colleague Prof. Dr. Konstanze Döhner, is responsible for the Ulm contribution to the research network that aims to eliminate precisely these issues in the context of a translational study. The goal of these types of studies is to make preclinical research findings available for practical application in the clinic.

New tumor markers with "Next Generation Sequencing"

Using sophisticated techniques and methods for decoding the human genome, including "Next Generation Sequencing" (NGS), the genetic makeup of tumors can not only be investigated in a more modern and speedy way, but also be far more cost effective than ever, which is why the technique finds its way faster from basic research to the clinic. These studies provide scientists with more information about specific gene mutations in tumors and thus serve as tumor markers for cancer physicians. Once these are identified, they can be detected in blood or tissue and provide biological and characteristic features in reference to the individual nature of the cancer as well as its causes. In recent years researchers have discovered hundreds of such tumor markers through NGS.

Cancer therapy is a race against time

The first task of scientists is to filter out the relevant biomarkers from the large number of newly discovered ones: "You have to imagine it like this: In the past an archaeologist dug with a shovel. Today an excavator, which can dig up more material at once, is used. But with such a variety of possible treasures, the only really valuable ones must be recognized. So we ask ourselves: Which of these biomarkers are the significant gold nuggets?" illustrates Bullinger. Furthermore, rapid tests, or rather optimization of proven tests, need to be performed for these biomarkers, from which the patient benefits quickly, at best, even in the first phase of therapy. Each cancer is a race against time.

Bullinger explains: "If we are able to systematize all possible genetic changes in the genome of leukemia patients and examine patients quickly through these tumor markers, we not only have patients, in addition to chemotherapy, tailored from the beginning on, to the genetic structure of their disease, but can also immediately test which treatment works at all. In this manner we can avoid ineffective treatments. This revolutionizes leukemia therapy. "


Original article

Further Information:
In addition to the University Hospital Ulm, Department of  Internal Medicine III, the following organizations and companies participate in this research project:  Università di Bologna, Università degli Studi di Torino, Personal Genomics, Sinaptica (Italy), Masaryk University (Czech Republic), Katholieke Universtiteit Leuven (Belgium), Fundación de Investigación del Cáncer de la Universidad de Salamanca (Spain), Fasteris (Switzerland), Münchner Leukämielabor (Germany).

News & Press Releases 2012

News 12/2012

Circus World in Hospital
By: Petra Schultze (original article)

Children of the Academy of Painting show their colorful works of art in the Department of Internal Medicine III

The children from Germany, Russia and Greece have been working for a whole year on the more than 70 images, and their exhibition was officially opened yesterday. With this exhibition, the little artists from the Painting Academy of the Family Center in Neu-Ulm are committed to the patients of the Department of Internal Medicine III, many of whom are very ill with cancer. Their enchanting and colorful works of art capture the exciting atmosphere of the circus in a very special way, and bring color and joy to the hospital’s day to day routine.

Exciting circus world with tigers, giraffes and clowns

"The lightness of the children, their enthusiasm, their laughter and their boundless hope, along with the belief in the good, is transmitted in all the images and give the patient comfort," says Tatjana Hoffmann, head of the Painting Academy of the Family Center in Neu-Ulm . "We hope that patients can not only find distraction in these paintings, but also energy." Tigers and giraffes, tightrope walkers and clowns do their very best on behalf of their young creators. They provide a wonderful and varied panorama of the exciting circus world.

Images offer small getaways from everyday hospital routine

Surrounded by a musical program, the young artists´ exhibit was opened by Prof. Dr. Hartmut Döhner, Medical Director of the Department of Internal Medicine III, and Gudrun Stadelhofer, nursing manager: "We are delighted that the children exhibit their works in our clinic because our patients need, along with their medical treatment, a lively atmosphere and the opportunity for small escapes from their often stressful and burdensome daily routine."

The exhibition is open until 16 December 2013 in the Department of Internal Medicine III on the Oberer Eselsberg (Albert-Einstein-Allee 23, 89081 Ulm; building of internal medicine, Lifts C, Level 4).


Orignial Article


Prof. Dr. K.M. Debatin, Prof. Dr. H. Döhner and Prof. Dr. T. Wirth

News 05/2012

Understand and Combating Leukemia: New Collaborative Research Centre in Ulm

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Promotes Cutting-Edge Research

With a fund of around 8.8 million euros, the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG) will promote Ulmer excellence for the next four years. The aim of the interdisciplinary research teams is to contribute to the knowledge of principles, causes and treatment of leukemia, also popularly known as "blood cancer". The DFG collaborative Research Centres are the most important research groups in Germany funded by the public sector.

Biological Causes and New Treatments

"With the new Collaborative Research Centre, we take Ulm's longstanding and extensive experience in the field of leukemia research into the future," explains Prof. Hartmut Döhner, Spokesperson of the CRC and Medical Director of the Department of Internal Medicine III at Ulm University Hospital. "The uniqueness of our research group lies in the transfer of basic research into clinical research and thus in the development of new treatment options."

The Collaborative Research Centre SFB 1074 "Experimental Models and Clinical Translation in Leukemia" is therefore divided into two large sections: eight subprojects look for biological causes for the emergence of various forms of leukemia. The scientists explore, among other things, genetic basics and processes that take place in cancer formation within cells. Seven other subprojects deal with the analysis of primary leukemia specimens from patients whose results will contribute to the development of new therapeutic approaches: where and by what means can the development of cancer cells be prevented or slowed down? Together the scientists share and develop new technical facilities, including new sequencing methods for the human genome in order to analyze the extensive data. "Thanks to the Ulmer research, we can now better treat certain forms of leukemia," says Dr. Klaus-Michael Debatin, Deputy Chief Medical Director of Ulm University Hospital and Medical Vice President of the University of Ulm. "Only by extensive scientific work, such as the new Collaborative Research Centre promotes, further advances in research can be reached in order to find their way from the laboratory to the patient," says the SFB 1074 deputy speaker and Medical Director of the Department of Child and Adolescent Medicine.

Cutting-edge Research Strengthens Ulm University Medicine

The CRC Program of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – DFG) aims at defining distinctive profiles at the participating universities. "The new Collaborative Research Centre gives new weight to the strong cancer research at the Medical Faculty of Ulm University," says Prof. Dr. Thomas Wirth, Dean of the Medical Faculty of Ulm University and director of the Institute of Physiological Chemistry. "This type of long-term cutting-edge research strengthens our location and is highly attractive for young, outstanding, up-and-coming scientists."

About 20 scientists work at the new Collaborative Research Centre, another 20 posts may be created for scientific personnel and 10 for technical personnel. The funding will initially cover four years, and can be extended to a total of twelve years after re-assessment. For this funding period, the DFG has approved 20 new collaborative research centres in Germany, a total of 232 currently promoting collaborative research centres in all subject areas.


Original article

Website: Collaborative Research Centre 1074 (SFB 1074)



News & Press Releases 2010

Dr. Florian Kuchenbauer receives funding through the Max-Eder-Nachwuchsgruppen Programm of the German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe).

The Max-Eder-Nachwuchsgruppenprogramm of the German Cancer Aid was founded to support physicians after their postdoctoral time, allowing them to establish an independent research group.

Dr. Kuchenbauer spent his postdoc in Dr. Keith Humphries group at the Terry Fox Laboratory in Vancouver, Canada investigating the role of non-coding RNAs in acute myeloid leukemia. During this time in Vancouver, Dr. Kuchenbauer graduated as PhD from the University of British Columbia in the Experimental Medicine Program, researching microRNAs in normal and malignant hematopoiesis. Based on the funding through the German Cancer Aid, Dr. Kuchenbauer will continue his research on non-coding RNAs and their role for the treatment of acute leukemias.

News 10/10

Claudia Scholl receives DGHO Science and Innovation Award

Claudia Scholl, M.D., is the recipient of this year’s Science and Innovation Award of the German Society of Hematology and Oncology (DGHO) sponsored by Pfizer, Inc. Dr. Scholl receives the award, which is geared towards young investigators in the field of oncogenic signal transduction and is endowed with 7,500 Euros, for the discovery of a signaling protein that may represent a new target for therapy in a broad spectrum of epithelial and hematologic malignancies. The award ceremony was held on October 2, 2010 during the DGHO Annual Meeting in Berlin.

see DGHO-Homepage

News 09/10

Prof. Dr. Jochen Greiner obtained the José Carreras Career Award 2010.

With this Award doted with 125.000 Euro the José Carreras Leukämie-Stiftung supports the investigation of new therapeutic options for patients with leukemias.

Despite intensive treatment with chemotherapy as well as hematopoietic stem cell transplantation a high percentage of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) relapse and even die due to leukemic progress. Therefore, novel approaches for leukemia and lymphoma patients are highly desirable.

Tumor cells from malignant diseases like leukemia and lymphoma can be efficiently killed by specific T cells of the immune system. Prof. Dr. Jochen Greiner explained that “T lymphocytes are able to detect tumor cells by their aberrant antigen expression profile and that tumor cells can be attacked and killed by activated specific T cells”. Antigens that induce such T cell responses are called tumor-associated or leukemia-associated antigens. Specific immunotherapeutic approaches require the identification and characterization of such appropriate antigen structures. To date, several tumor-associated antigens but also leukemia-associated antigens have been identified and several attempts try to target these antigens in clinical trials.

The focus of Prof. Dr. Jochen Greiner and his tumorimmunology group in Ulm is the definition of new targets for immunotherapy and the development of new immunotherapeutic approaches. His group identified several leukemia-associated antigens inducing strong immune responses and clinical immunotherapeutic trials have been initiated with encouraging results.

The José Carreras Career Award is given one time per year from the José Carreras Leukämie-Stiftung for excellent younger scientists working on the field of leukemia research. The aim of this award is to qualify the scientist for a leader position in the haematology community and to give a financial support to especially qualified and promising researcher in this area.




News 08/10

PD Dr. Lars Bullinger receives a Heisenberg Scholarship of the German Research Foundation (DFG).

The sponsorship of young academics is of special interest to the German Research Foundation (DFG). With the invention of a Heisenberg Programme the DFG aims to promote and maintain young outstanding and highly qualified researchers. This programme, which was named after Werner Heisenberg, who was appointed as a full professor at the age of 26 and received the Nobel Price in Physics at the age of 32, will give the awardees incentives for continuing their careers in science and research.

As a well-known young principal investigator PD Dr. Lars Bullinger received a Heisenberg scholarship of the DFG for the duration of three years. This scholarship will provide Dr. Bullinger with the necessary freedom to further pursue his scientific goals in parallel to his clinical responsibilities. Within the Heisenberg Programme Dr. Bullinger will be able to continue his research efforts on the molecular characterization of acute myeloid leukemia using genomics approaches and the scholarship will help to maintain the excellence of his competitive research activities.

News 05/10

Claudia Scholl awarded Emmy Noether Junior Research Group by the German Research Foundation

The Emmy Noether Program supports young researchers, usually over a period of five years, in achieving independence at an early stage of their scientific careers. It provides outstanding young scientists with the opportunity to rapidly qualify for a leading position by heading an independent junior research group and assuming relevant teaching duties.


Dr. Claudia Scholl spent 4.5 years as a postdoctoral research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston (USA) and returned to Germany in May 2009 to continue her research at Ulm University. The DFG-funded Emmy Noether Junior Research Group will allow Dr. Scholl to carry forward her research on the largely uncharacterized gene STK33, which was recently shown to be essential for the growth and survival of cancer cells harboring abnormalities of KRAS, one of the most commonly mutated genes in human cancer. Insights into the function of STK33 will contribute to the development of STK33 inhibitors, which could be used for targeted therapy in many different cancer types.


News & Press Releases 2009

News 02/09

PD Dr. med. Thorsten Zenz receives research award from the “Franziska Kolb-Stiftung”

Identification of causes and strategies to overcome refractory CLL

In our understanding of why some patients fail to respond to chemotherapy, current prognostic models will explain a minority of cases. The importance of studying p53 defects in CLL has been fostered by the demonstration of the fundamentally different clinical course of patients with 17p deletion. The clinical course of these patients is—unlike the clinical course in most patients with CLL—very poor. The demonstration of resistance to chemotherapy and mutation of the remaining TP53 allele explains the clinical presentation of CLL with 17p deletion. Other markers of poor prognosis have been described as unmutated VH status, high ZAP-70 expression and other genomic aberrations as 11q deletion that are associated with poorer prognosis.

In the work selected by the „Franziska Kolb-Stiftung“ the group has shown that in addition to CLL with 17p deletion, cases with TP53 mutation in the absence of 17p deletion show a very poor survival. The multivariate model suggests that TP53 mutation is an independent predictor of poor survival in CLL (Blood. 2008 Oct 15;112(8):3322-9).

The authors have confirmed these results in a prospective trial cohort showing virtually identical outcome for patients with 17p deletion and patients with TP53 mutation in the absence of 17p deletion. The results suggest that TP53 mutation testing should be implemented in the diagnostic work-up of patients with CLL.

News & Press Releases 2008

News 09/08

Michael Schmitt obtains the Hans-Jochen Illiger Memorial Award 2008 from the Wilsede-Academy

The Wilsede Academy of Oncology and Hematology gives the Hans-Jochen Illiger Memorial Award to Professor Michael Schmitt, MD honoring his excellent scientific achievements in the field of translational research. The publication from Michael Schmitt’s group entiteled “RHAMM-R3 peptide vaccination for patients with acute myeloid leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome and multiple myeloma elicits immunological and clinical responses” (Blood 2008; 111:1357-65) is in line with the like work of Professor Hans-Jochen Illiger, MD resulting in an improvement of the therapy of patients with leukemia and lymphoma.

The award is doted with € 7.500 and was given to Michael Schmitt on the occasion of the 3rd Annual Meeting of the Wilsede Academy on September 26, 2008 in Hamburg.

In summary, 26 patients were vaccinated by the RHAMM-R3 peptide vaccine in Ulm and the cooperating study center Lublin. Half of the patients showed a clinical improvement, 70% an immunological response. Further clinical trials with the RHAMM-R3 peptide vaccine will include patients with solid tumors and patients after allogeneic stem cell transplantation.

News 06/08
European Hematology Association – José Carreras Foundation Young Investigator Fellowship Awarded to Stefan Fröhling

The European Hematology Association (EHA) announced on June 13 that this year’s EHA – José Carreras Foundation Young Investigator Fellowship will be awarded to Dr. Stefan Fröhling (Department of Internal Medicine III; current affiliation, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA). Every year, the EHA – José Carreras Foundation Young Investigator Fellowship program provides seed grant funds to support promising young researchers in the field of hematology in their career development as independent investigators. Dr. Fröhling’s group will use the financial support (€ 84,000 over a period of two years) to study the role of the transcription factor CDX2 in the pathogenesis of acute myeloid leukemia using modern genomic technologies.

News 05/08
Small genetic alterations are of major relevance for the clinical outcome of patients with leukemia

Scientists from the University Ulm and the Medizinische Hochschule Hannover succeeded in identifying novel genetic alterations in patients with acute myeloid leukemia. Their findings allow an individual prognosis on patient outcome as well as treatment with specific, molecular-targeted therapies. The results of their study were published in the May 1st issue (2008) of the highly renonwed New England Journal of Medicine;358(18):1909-18

press release from 01.05.08

News 05/08
Research projects funded by the German José Carreras Leukämie-Stiftung e. V.  in 2008:

  • Analysis of complex genomic alterations for the identification of novel prognostic markers and mechanisms of resistance in advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia: detailed analyses within the prospective CLL2O study of the DCLLSG
  • Genetic and functional characterization of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with translocation t(8;21) and evaluation of the prognostic impact.

  • Analysis of Wilms’ tumor (WT1) gene mutations in adult acute myeloid leukemia patients exhibiting a normal karyotype.

News & Press Releases 2007

Focus Magazine Nr. 48 11/2007
Cancer: The list of cancer specialists

News 10/2007

Joint research activities of the German Cancer Research Center and the University Hospital Ulm
A Cooperation Unit between the two institutions entitled “Mechanisms of Leukemogenesis” was founded. Dr. Daniel Mertens leads a team of scientists that aims at elucidating the pathogenesis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, in particular its genetic basis.

Press Release

Visite, 12, No. 95, October 2007

News 07/07

German José Carreras Leukemia-Foundation grants the development of a polyvalent peptide vaccination for patients with malignant hematological diseases

News 05/07

Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) grants the „Comprehensive Infectious Disease Center“ (CIDC)



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