The main research focus of the molecular neurooncology group at the Department of Neuropathology is placed on the identification and functional characterization of genes that are aberrant in primary brain tumors, in particular gliomas, pediatric medulloblastomas and meningeal tumors. Using molecular genetic techniques, we investigate primary human brain tumor tissues, in vitro cultivated cell lines and experimental tumors in transgenic mouse models to identify tumor suppressor genes and proto-oncogenes that are deregulated in these tumors. A particular focus is also placed on the role of epigenetic DNA changes, such as aberrant DNA methylation, as well as microRNA aberrations in brain tumor initiation and progression. Furthermore, our group is very active in translational brain tumor research aiming at the identification and validation of molecular biomarkers as novel tools for an individualized prediction of patient outcome and response to therapy.
Our group participates in the Brain Tumor Network funded by the German Federal Ministry for Research for Education and Research (BMBF) within the German National Genome Network (NGFNplus). In addition, we serve as a reference center for molecular genetics within the German Glioma Network , which is supported by the German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe). Prof Reifenberger also coordinates a BMBF-funded network on Prognostic and Predictive Validation of Molecular Markers in Patients with Anaplastic Gliomas. Furthermore, we participate in the BMBF-funded network on the molecular diagnostics of pediatric medulloblastomas.
In addition to brain tumor research, we are pursuing research projects dealing with epigenetic DNA changes during extrinsic (UV-induced) skin aging as well as the role of aberrrant miRNA expression in brain aging and aging-associated neurodegeneration. The aging projects are carried out in the framework of the DFG-funded collaborative research center SFB 728 on extrinsic aging and the DFG research training group GK 1033/2, respectively. Prof. Reifenberger ist the speaker of the GK 1033/2 .