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Division of Preventive Oncology

Prof. Dr. Hermann Brenner (in ch.)

The Division, which was established in 2009 and led by Prof. Cornelia Ulrich until 2014, initially focused on tertiary prevention of colorectal cancer. Another major focus of research successfully established is tertiary prevention by promotion of physical activity among cancer patients. The work group Physical Activity and Cancer, headed by Prof. Karen Steindorf, has initiated multiple randomized controlled trials in this field, some of which are already successfully completed, while others are ongoing. In 2016, Prof. Karen Steindorf was appointed as head of a newly established Division of Physical Activity, Prevention and Cancer.
After Prof. Ulrich left DKFZ in 2014, Prof. Hermann Brenner, head of the DKFZ Division of Clinical Epidemiology and Aging Research, started serving as temporary head of the Division upon request. Under his leadership, a highly ambitious research agenda focusing on novel avenues of cancer screening and early detection has been launched. Furthermore, a workgroup led by Dr. Mahdi Fallah on risk adapted prevention has been set up. It focuses on targeted prevention in the high risk group of first degree relatives of cancer patients.

The research program in the secondary prevention of cancer, focusing on enhanced screening strategies and on the detection and evaluation of novel biomarkers or biomarker signatures for early detection of cancer, will be intensified. A unique data- and liquid biobank for cancer early detection will be built up in the context of the GEKKO study (Gebt dem Krebs keine Chance: Onkocheck). Apart from intensive collaboration with multiple university clinics, parts of the program will be accomplished in close collaboration with private practices engaged in screening activities, such as gastroenterology practices that offer screening colonoscopy. This will greatly contribute to the outreach of NCT activities in the community and outpatient sector. The Division will furthermore play a key role in promoting cancer prevention research within the German Cancer Consortium, where multiple large scale epidemiological and intervention studies have been successfully initiated in collaboration with other leading cancer sites in Germany.


Prof. Dr. Hermann Brenner (in ch.)
Preventive Oncology (C120)
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
Im Neuenheimer Feld 581
69120 Heidelberg
Tel: +49 6221 42 1300


Selected Publications

  • Raut J.R. et al (2021). A microRNA panel compared to environmental and polygenic scores for colorectal cancer risk prediction. Nat Commun. 12(1), 4811.
  • Tian Y. et al. (2019). Familial colorectal cancer risk in half siblings and siblings: nationwide cohort study. BMJ 364:l803.
  • Gies A. et al. (2018) Direct Comparison of Diagnostic Performance of 9 Quantitative Fecal Immunochemical Tests for Colorectal Cancer Screening. Gastroenterology 154(1):93-104.
  • Brenner H. et al. (2014). Colorectal cancer. Lancet, 383(9927), 1490-1502.
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