Jens Marquardt receives Lichtenberg Professorship for molecular hepatocarcinogenesis

Volkswagen Foundation provides EUR 1.3 million funding for liver cancer research


Dr. Jens Marquardt of the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is the recipient of a Lichtenberg Professorship. He is one of a total of three outstanding researchers who were awarded with this honor from the Volkswagen Foundation in the 2014 selection. The Lichtenberg Professorship for molecular hepatocarcinogenesis at the Department of Internal Medicine I of the Mainz University Medical Center is endowed with about EUR 1.3 million funding and will be initially supported over a period of five years. In his research, Marquardt focuses on the multistage process of liver cancer development. Detailed insights into the genesis and progression of liver cancer could be the key for the development of new treatment strategies.

Primary liver cancers rank among the most common cancers worldwide and are the second most frequent cause of cancer-related deaths. Liver cancers are characterized by pronounced molecular and phenotypic heterogeneity which hampers the progress in development of new therapeutic strategies.

Dr. Jens Marquardt's research project includes a comprehensive program for dissecting the multistage process of hepatocarcinogenesis. His core research aims are to define key molecular factors responsible for the development of liver cancer, to characterize the importance of the hepatic micro-environment for tumor initiation, and to dissect the epigenetic mechanisms involved in this process. Another major objective is the evaluation of novel and individualized treatment strategies for hepatocellular cancers. For this purpose, Marquardt aims at defining and characterizing the complete spectrum of genetic alterations present in individual tumors to subsequently demonstrate the utility of modern precision medicine for complementing existing therapies and, ultimately, improving the patient outcome.

"I congratulate Dr. Jens Marquardt on being awarded a Lichtenberg Professorship," declared Professor Ulrich Förstermann, Chief Scientific Officer of the Mainz University Medical Center. "The fact that the molecular profile of tumors can be individually differentiated will more frequently play a central role in decisions on treatment. For this reason, I consider this research project to be pointing the way towards the future of individualized cancer medicine."

The scientific surrounding at the Mainz University Medical Center, in particular at the Department of Internal Medicine I, headed by its director Professor Peter R. Galle, can be considered ideal for the planned project: "The clinical and scientific environment is outstanding and an ideal basis for the implementation of the planned experiments," explained Marquardt. "The research infrastructure and expertise for hepatocellular carcinomas is very good. The planned projects will significantly benefit from the close collaboration with the Department of General, Abdominal, and Transplantation Surgery headed by Professor Hauke Lang."

Jens Marquardt, born in 1978 in New York, started his medical career in 1999 at Heidelberg University. After graduating and completing his doctoral thesis at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Marquardt worked at the Department for Gastroenterology and Hepatology of the University Hospital Cologne until 2008. He subsequently performed his post-doctoral fellowship at the Center for Cancer Research of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, from 2008 to 2010. Since 2011, he has continued his work at the Department of Internal Medicine I of the Mainz University Medical Center. He is author of several publications in high profile medical journals. Most recently, he was awarded with the Rising Star Award of the United European Gastroenterology Foundation (UEG) in 2014 in recognition of his contribution to the field of hepatic cancer stem cells.