AG Prof. Dr. Dr. Hermann

Stem Cells & Cancer Max Eder Research Group

Cancer stem cells (CSCs), also known as tumor-initiating cells, are a distinct subset of cells within a tumor that share features with stem cells. We have demonstrated previously that these cells play an outstanding role in the malignant progression, chemoresistance, metastasis, and relapse of solid tumors.
In the Stem Cells & Cancer Group, we study CSCs in gastrointestinal tumors, primarily in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The lab has a strong focus on basic research, using genetically engineered mouse models of pancreatic cancer as well as primary human patient tissues and cells. Furthermore we put strong emphasis on translating basic research results into a clinical setting, looking into screening and early detection methods for pancreatic neoplasias.

We are specifically interested in:

  • the identification and characterization of new biomarkers for the detection of CSCs
  •  the identification and regulation of proteins and signaling pathways that govern key CSC phenotypes, such as stemness, epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), metastasis, and chemoresistance.
  • a deeper understanding of CSC-specific features to develop new targeted therapies against pancreatic cancer
  •  mechanisms of metastasis and therapy resistance


Principle Investigator

  • Profilbild von Prof. Dr. Dr. med. Patrick C. Hermann

    Prof. Dr. Dr. med. Patrick C. Hermann

    Oberarzt, Facharzt für Innere Medizin und Gastroenterologie, medikamentöse Tumortherapie


Tabea Dittrich

Stefanie Hauff, M.Sc.


Technical Staff

Andrea Wißmann, BTA


Anton Lahusen

Selina Mader

Eva Rodriguez-Aznar

Kanishka Tiwary

Arijan Valar

Karolin Walter


2018 – 2020: „Targeting Plasticity in Pancreatic Ductal AdenoCarcinoma (PiPaC)”, German Cancer Aid

2017 - 2021: SFB 1279 "Exploiting the Human Peptidome for Novel Antimicrobial and Anticancer Agents", German Research Council DFG

2015 – 2020: “Circulating tumor cells in EMT and metastasis” Max Eder Fellowship, German Cancer Aid

2017 – 2020: “Heterogeneity in solid tumors (HEIST), German Research Council DFG

2014 – 2017: “Tumorigenesis and stem cells” Hector Foundation

2014 – 2016: “Bausteinprogramm” Ulm University


2021          Abstract Award of the German Society of Gastroenterology (to K. Walter)

2020          Poster Award of the German Pancreas Club (to K. Tiwary)

2019          Poster Award of the Southwest German Society for Gastroenterology

2014          Poster Award of the Southwest German Society for Gastroenterology

2012          Hector Research Award Oncology

2011          Special Mention for Best Young Investigator Papers – Stem Cells

2008          Adolf Kußmaul Award of the Southwest German Society for Gastroenterology

Key Publications

Click here for complete publication list.

  • Arnold F, Mahaddalkar PU, Bergmann W, Gout J, Illing A, Roger E, Tharahalli U, Kraus JM, Russell R, Daiss N., Perkhofer L, Hohwieler M, Heller S, Azoitei N, Frappart PO, Katz SF, Lechel A, Seufferlein T, Kestler HA, Rudolph KL, Hermann PC *, Kleger A *. Functional genomic screening during somatic cell reprogramming identifies Dkk3 as a roadblock of organ regeneration. (* shared last authorship). Adv Sci (Weinh). 2021 May 13;8(14):2100626.

  • Breunig M, Merkle J, Wagner M, Melzer MK, Barth TFE, Engleitner T, Krumm J, Wiedenmann S, Cohrs C, Perkhofer L, Jain G, Krüger J, Hermann PC, Schmid M, Madácsy T, Griger J, Müller M, Wessely O, Robey P, Heller S, Dantes Z, Reichert M, Günes C, Bolenz C4, Kuhn F, Maléth J, Speier S, Liebau S, Sipos B, Küster B, Seufferlein T, Rad R, Meier M, Hohwieler M, Kleger A. Modelling Plasticity and Dysplasia of Pancreatic Ductal Organoids Derived from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells. Cell Stem Cell. Cell Stem Cell. 2021 Jun 3;28(6):1105-1124.e19.

  • Walter K, Rodriguez-Aznar E, Frappart PO, Ventura Ferreira MS, Tiwary K, Meessen S, Daiss N, Schulte LA, Arnold F, Usachov V, Seufferlein T, Kleger A, Günes C, Beier FJ, Sainz B Jr, Hermann PC. Telomerase and Pluripotency Factors Jointly Regulate Stemness in Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cells. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Jun 23;13(13):3145.

  • Valle S, Alcalá S, Martin-Hijano L, Cabezas-Sainz P, Navarro D, Ramos Muñoz E, Yuste L, Tiwary K, Walter K, Ruiz-Cañas L, Alonso-Nocelo M, Rubiolo JA, González-Arnay E, Garcia-Bermejo L, Hermann PC, Sánchez L, Sancho P, Fernández-Moreno MA, Sainz B Jr. Exploiting Oxidative Phosphorylation to Promote the Stem and Immunoevasive Properties of Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cells.Nat Commun. 2020 Oct 16;11(1):5265. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-18954-z.

  • Ettrich TJ, Perkhofer L, Decker T, Hofheinz RD, Heinemann V, Hoffmann T, Hebart HF, Herrmann T, Hannig CV, Büchner-Steudel P, Güthle M, Hermann PC, Berger AW, Seufferlein T. Nintedanib plus mFOLFOX6 as second-line treatment of metastatic, chemorefractory colorectal cancer: the randomized, placebo-controlled, phase II TRICC-C study (AIO-KRK-0111). Int J Cancer. 2020 Sep 15.

  • Gout J, Perkhofer L, Morawe M, Arnold F, Ihle M, Biber S, Lange S, Roger E, Kraus JM, Stifter K, Hahn S, Zamperone A, Engleitner T, Müller M, Rodriguez-Aznar E, Sainz B Jr, Hermann PC, Hessmann E, Müller S, Azoitei N, Schirmbeck R, Lechel A, Liebau S, Wagner M, Simeone D, Kestler HA, Seufferlein T, Wiesmüller L, Rad R, Frappart PO, Kleger A. Synergistic targeting and resistance to PARP inhibition in DNA damage repair-deficient pancreatic cancer. Gut. 2020 Sep 1.

  • Alcala S, Sancho P, Martinelli P, Navarro D, Perdero C, Martin-Hijano L, Valle S, Earl J, Rodriguez-Serrano M, Ruiz Cañas L, Rojas K, Carrato A, Garcia-Bermejo L, Fernández-Moreno MA, Hermann PC, Sainz B Jr. ISG15 and ISGylation is required for pancreatic cancer stem cell mitophagy and metabolic plasticity. Nat Commun. 2020 May 29;11(1):2682.

  • Frappart PO *, Walter K *, Gout J, Beutel AK, Morawe M, Arnold F, Breunig M, Barth TF, Marienfeld R, Schulte L, Ettrich T, Hackert T, Svinarenko M, Rösler R, Wiese S, Wiese H, Perkhofer L, Müller M, Lechel A, Sainz B Jr., Hermann PC, Seufferlein T *, Kleger A *. Pancreatic cancer-derived organoids – a disease modeling tool to predict drug response. United European Gastroenterol J, 2020 Feb 19:2050640620905183. (* shared 1st & last authorship)

  • D'Errico G, Alonso-Nocelo M, Vallespinos M, Hermann PC, Alcalá S, García CP, Martin-Hijano L, Valle S, Earl J, Cassiano C, Lombardia L, Feliu J, Monti MC, Seufferlein T, García-Bermejo L, Martinelli P, Carrato A, Sainz B Jr. Tumor-associated macrophage-secreted 14-3-3ζ signals via AXL to promote pancreatic cancer chemoresistance. Oncogene. 2019 Jul;38(27):5469-5485

  • Walter K*, Tiwary K*, Trajkovic-Arsic M, Hidalgo-Sastre A, Schulte LA, Seufferlein T, Sainz B Jr., Siveke JT, Rodriguez-Aznar E, Hermann PC. MEK inhibition targets cancer stem cells and impedes migration of pancreatic cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Stem Cells Int. 2019 Jun 2;2019:8475389
  • Hermann PC, Sainz B Jr. Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cells: A State or an Entity? Semin Cancer Biol. 2018 Dec;53:223-231.

  • Berger AW, Schwerdel D, Costa IG, Hackert T, Strobel O, Lam S, Barth TF, Schröppel B, Meining A, Büchler MW, Zenke M, Hermann PC, SeufferleinT *, Kleger A *.Detection of Hot-Spot Mutations in Circulating Cell-Free DNA From Patients With Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasms of the Pancreas. Gastroenterology. 2016 Aug;151(2):267-70.
  • Sainz B Jr, Alcala S, Garcia E, Sanchez-Ripoll Y, Azevedo MM, Cioffi M, Tatari M, Miranda-Lorenzo I, Hidalgo M, Gomez-Lopez G, Cañamero M, Erkan M, Kleeff J, García-Silva S, Sancho P, Hermann PC, Heeschen C. Microenvironmental hCAP-18/LL-37 promotes pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma by activating its cancer stem cell compartment. Gut. 2015 Dec;64(12):1921-35.
  • Hermann PC, Sancho P, Canamero M, Martinelli P, Madriles F, Michl P, Gress T, de Pascual R, Gandia L, Guerra MC, Barbacid M, Wagner M, Vieira C, Aicher A, Real FX, Sainz BJ, Heeschen C. Nicotine Promotes Initiation and Progression of KRAS-induced Pancreatic Cancer via Gata6-dependent Dedifferentiation of Acinar Cells in Mice. Gastroenterology. 2014 Nov;147(5):1119-33.e4.
  • Hermann PC, Heeschen C. Metastatic cancer stem cells – Quo vadis? Clin Chem. 2013 Aug;59(8):1268-9.
  • Lonardo E, Hermann PC, Mueller MT, Huber S, Balic A, Miranda I, Zagorac S, Alcala S, Rodriguez I, Ramirez JC, Torres R, Garcia E, Hidalgo M, Cebrian DA, Heuchel R, Löhr M, Berger F, Bartenstein P, Aicher A, Heeschen C. Nodal/Activin Signaling Drives Self-Renewal and Tumorigenicity of Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cells and Provides a Target for Combined Drug Therapy. Cell Stem Cell2011 Nov 4; 9(5): 433-446. 
  • Gallmeier E *, Hermann PC *, Mueller MT, Machado JG, Ziesch A, De Toni EN, Palagyi A, Eisen C, Ellwart JW, Rivera J, Rubio-Viqueira B, Hidalgo M, Bunz F, Göke B, Heeschen C. Inhibition of ataxia telangiectasia- and Rad3-related function abrogates the in vitro and in vivo tumorigenicity of human colon cancer cells through depletion of the CD133(+) tumor-initiating cell fraction. Stem Cells. 2011 Mar;29(3):418-29. (* shared authorship)
  • Hermann PC, Bhaskar S, Cioffi M, Heeschen C. Cancer stem cells in solid tumors. Semin Cancer Biol. 2010 Apr;20(2):77-84.
  • Mueller MT, Hermann PC, Huber SL, Leicht SF, Wittauer J, Mustafa M, Bartenstein P, Berger F, Ellwart JW, D’Haese JG, Schoenberg MH, Jauch KW, Hidalgo M, Heeschen C. Combined targeted treatment to eliminate tumorigenic cancer stem cells in human pancreatic cancer.  Gastroenterology. 2009 Sep; 137(3): 1102-13.
  • Hermann PC, Huber SL, Herrler T, Aicher A, Ellwart JW, Guba M, Bruns CJ, Heeschen C. Distinct populations of cancer stem cells determine tumor growth and metastatic activity in human pancreatic cancer.  Cell Stem Cell.  2007 Sep 13; 1(3): 313-23. 


Job offers

We currently offer positions for Master Students, a call for PhD students will be opened soon. 

If you are interested in joining our group, please contact the PI directly under .