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Division of Theoretical Systems Biology

Prof. Dr. Thomas Höfer

Tracking of individual tumor cells in the fluorescence microscope.

The Division of Theoretical Systems Biology pursues multidisciplinary research to understand how biological function emerges from interacting components - molecules within a cell and cells within an organism. Our work is essentially collaborative and characterized by a tight interplay between experimentation, data analysis and mathematical modeling. We dissect the molecular switches that regulate the proliferation and differentiation of T lymphocytes and thus orchestrate adaptive immune responses. The second focus of the division is on growth-factor signaling and cell-cycle control. We study the interplay of these processes in human tumor models to understand how therapy resistance arises from synergistic oncogene action. From both strands of work common principles at the systems level are emerging. Our work aims at identifying the functional behavior of molecular networks in the cell and at quantifying the control exerted by individual components to inform novel therapeutic approaches.

A key challenge of quantitative biology is to understand the interplay between molecular modules - such as those controlling the induction and maintenance of expression of master transcription factors for cell fate - and genome-wide programs that mediate coordinated cell function.


Prof. Dr. Thomas Höfer
Theoretical Systems Biology (B086)
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
Im Neuenheimer Feld 580
69120 Heidelberg
Tel: +49 6221 42-1980

Selected Publications

  • Li C, Cesbron F, Oehler M, Brunner M, Höfer T (2018) Frequency modulation of transcriptional bursting enables sensitive and rapid gene regulation. Cell Systems, 6, 409-423.
  • Ryl T, Kuchen EE, Bell E, Shao C, Floréz A, Moenke G, Gogolin S, Friedrich M, Lamprecht F, Westermann F, Höfer T (2017) Cell-cycle position of single MYC-driven cancer cells dictates their susceptibility to a chemotherapeutic drug. Cell Systems 5, 237-250.
  • Pei W, Feyerabend TB, Rössler J, Wang X, Postrach D, Busch K, Klapproth K, Rode I, Dietlein N, Quedenau C, Chen W, Sauer S, Wolf S, Höfer T, Rodewald HR (2017) Endogenous barcoding reveals hematopoietic stem cell fates realized in vivo. Nature 548, 456-460
  • Busch K, Klapproth K, Barile M, Flossdorf M, Holland-Letz M, Schlenner SM, Reth M, Höfer T, Rodewald HR (2015) Fundamental properties of unperturbed hematopoiesis from stem cells in vivo. Nature 518, 542-546.
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