Team RSC: RNA Splicing in Cancer

Our team is seeking to identify key molecular mechanisms that generate mRNA splicing abnormalities in cancer. Splicing of mRNA is a crucial process in eukaryotic gene expression regulation. In addition to canonical splicing, which leads to the inclusion of constitutive exons into the mature mRNA, the transcriptome is subject to alternative splicing. More than 90% of eukaryotic mRNAs undergo alternative splicing, giving rise to multiple protein-coding isoforms from a single precursor mRNA. Alternative splicing is therefore a major determinant for proteome diversity and organism complexity.

Emerging data indicate that aberrant alternative splicing plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of several molecular subtypes of cancer. Such splicing abnormalities can lead to constitutive activity of oncogenes, reduced expression of tumor suppressors, or drug resistance.

By employing transcriptomic and gene-editing technologies combined with mechanistic cellular biology, we explore the interplay of cis- and trans-regulatory splicing elements in cancer. Our goal is to understand how these elements shape the complex pathophysiology of tumor cells, and to identify tumor-specific vulnerabilities for targeted cancer therapy.


  • Dr. Christina Esdar
    Associate Director TIP Oncology at Merck, Darmstadt, Germany (Industry mentor)
  • Prof. Dr. Andreas Kulozik
    Head of the Department of Pediatric Oncology, Hematology, Immunology and Pulmonology at Children’s Hospital, University of Heidelberg, Germany (Academic mentor)
The research of this team is kindly sponsored by Merck.
The research of this team is kindly sponsored by Merck.

Our Team Members

Dr. Jan Mauer

Group Leader

Previous work
  • 2015-2017: Postdoc in RNA biology and epitranscriptomics with Prof. Samie R. Jaffrey at the Department of Pharmacology, Weill Cornell Medicine of Cornell University, New York, USA
  • 2009-2014: Postdoc in mouse models of metabolic and inflammatory diseases with Prof. Jens C. Brüning, at the Institute for Genetics, University of Cologne, Germany and at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in Cologne, Germany
  • 2004-2009: PhD in Genetics with Prof. Jens C. Brüning at the Institute for Genetics, University of Cologne, Germany

Dr. Alexandra Duarte

Postdoctoral Researcher

Previous work
  • 2013-2018: Research assistant with Dr. Sven Rottenberg and Prof. Jos Jonkers at the Division of Molecular Pathology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 2012-2013: Postdoc with Dr. Rudiger Woscholski at the Department of Chemistry, Imperial College London, UK
  • 2008-2012: PhD with Dr. David Mann at the Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, UK

Dr. Lina Marcela Paez

Postdoctoral Researcher

Previous work
  • 2015-2018: Postdoc with Dr. Nuno Morais at the Laboratory of Disease Transcriptomics, Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 2014-2015: Postdoc with Dr. Raquel Oliveira at the Laboratory of Chromosome Dynamics, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia, Portugal
  • 2010-2014: PhD with Dr. Katsuhiko Shirahige at the Laboratory of Genome Structure and Function, Tokyo Tech/University of Tokyo, Japan

Arne Knudsen

PhD Student

Previous work
  • 2015-2018: Master of Science in Molecular Biotechnology, University of Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2016: Internship, Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, Seattle, USA
  • 2011-2015: Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biotechnology, Ruprecht-Karls-University, Heidelberg, Germany

Marit Krötschel

Research Associate

Previous work
  • 2016-2018: Research Associate, Immunosuppressive Microenvironment of Tumors, BioMed X, Germany
  • 2005–2015: Research Assistant, Max Planck Institute of Immunology and Epigenetics, Freiburg, Germany
  • 2011–2013: Master in Health Sciences, University of Education, Freiburg, Germany
  • 2008–2011: Bachelor in Health Sciences, University of Education, Freiburg, Germany

Nicola Biondi

Research Assistant

Previous work
  • 2016-2017: Master of Science in Molecular Biotechnology, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
  • 2014: Internship, Bioline Reagents, London, United Kingdom
  • 2012-2016: Bachelor of Science in Biosciences and Biotechnology, University of Camerino, Italy

Adina Bleil

Bachelor's Thesis Student

Previous work
  • Since 2015: Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology at Mannheim University of Applied Sciences, Germany
  • 2017: Internship at Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia

Öykü Ece Tosun


Previous work
  • Since 2018: Master of Science’s Fellow in Molecular Biosciences- Major in Cancer Biology at University of Heidelberg and German Cancer Research Center, Germany
  • 2013-2018: Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology and Genetics at Middle East Technical University, Turkey
  • 2017: Internship in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at University of Toronto, Canada
  • 2016: Internship in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University, USA