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ERC Starting Grant for Stefan Gröschel

No. 58 | 14/12/2015 | by Koh

The European Research Council (ERC) awards “Starting Grants” to support excellent young scientists who are starting an independent science career. Stefan Gröschel, a medical researcher from the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg, has now received the prestigious grant in the present round of proposals. Gröschel investigates the abnormally high activity of an important cancer-promoting gene. The ultimate goal of his research is to find new agents to restrain the underlying genetic and epigenetic mechanisms.

Stefan Gröschel

The oncogene EVI1 is a driver in a number of cancers including, in particular, acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and ovarian cancer as well as many cases of cancer of the breast, gut and lungs. The gene product of EVI1 has a variety of tasks in the cell: It influences the activity of other genes and is involved in a number of ways in the packaging of the hereditary material. Stefan Gröschel is therefore searching for possibilities to restrain EVI1’s dangerous impact on cellular transformation.

In prior studies, Gröschel had discovered in a rare type of AML that due to rearrangements in the DNA of the leukemia cells, a genetic enhancer is placed very close to EVI1. As a result, activation and transcription of the oncogene are abnormally high. Gröschel suspects that similar enhancer mechanisms are also at work in other EVI1-dependent tumors. He now plans to identify these mechanisms in thorough genome analyses. His ultimate goal is to use new, epigenetically active drugs to reduce EVI1’s activity to a level that no longer promotes cancer.

Stefan Gröschel, born in 1979, studied medicine at the University of Heidelberg. From 2005 to 2006, he pursued research for his doctoral thesis at Emory University in Atlanta, USA. In 2007, he joined the faculty at Ulm University Hospital as a scientist and assistant physician at the Medical Department III (Hartmut Döhner). From 2011 to 2014, he pursued research as a post-doc at the Erasmus Medical Center at Rotterdam University. Since August 2014, Gröschel has been working at the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg in the Department of Translational Oncology (Christof von Kalle). Dr. Gröschel, father of two children, has already received several awards and distinctions including the 2014 Lady Tata Memorial Trust International Award for Research in Leukaemia and the 2015 Leukemia Clinical Research from the German Society of Hematology and Oncology (DGHO).

The ERC Starting Independent Researcher Grants are awarded by the European Research Council (ERC) and are designed to support excellent young researchers at an early stage of their career when they are starting their own independent research team or program in a European country. Starting Grants comprise EUR 1.5 million for a period of five years. The prestigious research grant is awarded in a highly competitive process in which only one in ten proposals is accepted.

A picture of Stefan Gröschel is available at:


With more than 3,000 employees, the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) is Germany’s largest biomedical research institute. DKFZ scientists identify cancer risk factors, investigate how cancer progresses and develop new cancer prevention strategies. They are also developing new methods to diagnose tumors more precisely and treat cancer patients more successfully. The DKFZ's Cancer Information Service (KID) provides patients, interested citizens and experts with individual answers to questions relating to cancer.

To transfer promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improve the prognosis of cancer patients, the DKFZ cooperates with excellent research institutions and university hospitals throughout Germany:

  • National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT, 6 sites)
  • German Cancer Consortium (DKTK, 8 sites)
  • Hopp Children's Cancer Center (KiTZ) Heidelberg
  • Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON Mainz) - A Helmholtz Institute of the DKFZ
  • DKFZ-Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim
  • National Cancer Prevention Center (jointly with German Cancer Aid)
The DKFZ is 90 percent financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.


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