The Major "Cancer Biology", which is part of the Master Program "Molecular Biosciences" of the Faculty of Biosciences, University of Heidelberg, has been designed to cover all relevant aspects of cancer research. It offers an outstanding environment for Master thesis research and, at a later stage, also for doctoral thesis research. It provides splendid interdisciplinary training and research opportunities in basic, translational, and clinical cancer research. The fields which are covered include molecular and cellular tumor biology, biophysics and medical physics, structural and functional genomics and proteomics, systems biology, tumor immunology, tumor virology, tumor epidemiology, toxicology, and translational oncology.

Many DKFZ laboratories are incorporated into our innovative Major "Cancer Biology" Program. This allows the students to experience cutting edge science and to interact with internationally leading scientists at a very early stage of their career.

General Organization

The regular study program comprises 4 semesters

Schedule and Calendar

LSF: Teachings, studies and research - Information system of the University of Heidelberg

All updates, more details, also from other majors of this Master program, may also be obtained from the LSF online directory of the University.
Choose the link "Course Overview" on the right, this will bring you to the "Vorlesungsverzeichnis", choose semester of interest, scroll down to "Fakultät für Biowissenschaften" - "Biologie" - "Master Molecular Biosciences" - "Cancer Biology"

Special Note:

Major Cancer Biology is affected by the Corona pandemic:

  • Lecture series are offered online via various video conference streaming tools
  • Practical training is partially replaced by theoretical parts and demonstration of experiments
  • In all practical courses the safety and hygiene concept of DKFZ has to be strictly followed, approval of Heidelberg University must be obtained
  • Participants of affected courses will be informed in specific detail in case of further restrictions

Semester 1: 'Frontiers in Biosciences' (Winter Term 2020/2021)

"Crash Course"

  • Theoretical and Practical Training in Basic Laboratory Methods and Techniques  - mainly for incoming students with little practical experience in standard molecular biological methods
  • Participants are identified and assigned to the course during the Welcome Events
  • Dates: sorry, but the "Crash Course" cannot be offered in 2020 due to restrictive distancing rules in DKFZ labs

Lecture Series and Tutorials on Molecular Biosciences

mandatory for all Master students of all majors, centrally organized by the Faculty of Biosciences

  • 1. Lecture period (Frontiers I):
    4. November - 8. December 2020 (date of written exam: 18. December 2020; retake: 24. March 2021)
  • 2. Lecture period (Frontiers II):
    11. January - 12. March 2021
    Week 1: Core Competencies: Statistics, Science communication, Scientific publishing, Ethics in science (mandatory attendance)
    Weeks 2-9: all 7 Majors of the program organize 2-week modules ("Minors") of lectures and tutorials (choice of two topics, preferably different from their own Major, is mandatory for all students)

Lectures and tutorials take place from 08:15 - 9:45 am

3-week Practical Courses with Student Seminars

Detailed Descriptions of Practical Courses

two out of seven are mandatory for each student, one before (module Frontiers I) and one after (module Frontiers II) the Christmas break

(course content may be subject to change to be in line with DKFZ safety rules)

  • HP-F1: Molecular, Genetic, Cellular and Bioinformatic Approaches in Cancer Research; 2.-20. November 2020 (capacity: 8 students)
  • HP-F2: Bioinformatics, Applied Tumor Immunity, and Stress Response in Stem Cells; 5.-11. and 16.-20. November and 14.-18. December 2020 (capacity: 8 students)
  • HP-F3: Epigenetics & Epitranscriptomics, Crystallography, and Transplantation Models to Study Brain Cancer and Stem Cell Biology; 23. November - 11. December 2020 (capacity: 8 students)


  • HP-F4: Biomedical Imaging and Radiation Oncology; 11.-29. January 2021 (capacity: 8 students)
  • HP-F5: Advanced Methods in Cell Biology; 1.-19. February 2021 (capacity: 8 students [4 Major Cancer Biology + 4 Major MCB])
  • HP-F6: 'Oncolytic Viruses' and 'Gene Therapy'; 22. February - 12. March 2021 (capacity: 6 students)
  • HP-F7: Transcriptional and Translational Control of Cell Fate; 8.-26. February 2021 (capacity: 6 students)

Semester 2: 'Focus Bioscience' (Summer Term 2021 - in progress)

Module 1: Molecular Mechanisms of Cancer

Lecture Series and Tutorials on "Molecular Principles of Cancer Development"

Lecture period: 13. April - 21. May 2021

Lectures and tutorials take place from 8:15 - 9:45 (Zoom live-streaming).

The lecture series recapitulates various chapters of the book "The Biology of Cancer" by Robert Weinberg.

Date of written examination: Monday, 7. June 2021, 11:00-13:00

3-week Practical Courses with Student Seminars

Detailed Descriptions of Practical Courses

one course is mandatory for each student

  • HP-F8: Components and Mechanisms of Signal Transduction; 12.-30. April 2021 (capacity: 7 students + 1 from Major MCB)
  • HP-F9: Cancer Genomics, Proteomics and Murine Tumor Models; 15 days in the period 12. April - 21. May 2021 (capacity: 8 students)
  • HP-F10: Epigenomics and Cancer; 19. April - 7. May 2021 (capacity: 8 students)

Module 2: Tumor Immunology, Virology and Cancer

Lecture Series and Tutorials on "Immunology and Virology"

Lecture period:
14. June - 2. July 2021 (Tumor Immunology lectures)
5.-30. July 2021 (Tumor Virology lectures)
Lectures and tutorials take place from 08:00 - 09:30/9:45 (video conference live-streaming)

Date of written examination: Tuesday, 3. August 2021, 11:30-13:30

3-week Practical Courses with Student Seminars

Detailed Descriptions of Practical Courses

one course is mandatory for each student

  • HP-F11: Tumor Heterogeneity and Proteomics; 14. June - 2. July 2021 (capacity: 8 students)
  • HP-F12: Immunological Methods; 5.-23. July 2021 (capacity: 8 students)
  • HP-F13: Molecular and Immunological Methods in Tumor Virology; 5.-23. July 2021 (capacity: 8 students)

Semester 3: 'Biolab' and 'Working in Bioscience'

Overview and Descriptions of "Biolab" and "Working in Bioscience" Internship offers (selection)

Each student undertakes two lab internships - regular minimum duration: 6 weeks (expendable for up to 6 months) - that consist of a small scientific project, either in the laboratory of a Major Faculty member (Module 'Biolab'; for choice of supervisor see "Faculty" list in the navigation bar on the left), or in the context of another Major, within a foreign research program, or in a company with oncological research (Module 'Working in Bioscience').

Both projects can be done within the Major, only one of them can be done externally.

External projects require the approval of the Coordinator.

Semester 4: 'Master Thesis and Oral Defense'

The Module 'Masters Thesis Work' lasts six months and is done in the laboratory of one of the teachers in the Cancer Biology program. You undertake a laboratory research project relevant to the Major, write a thesis, and defend it in an oral presentation.

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