The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) is Germany’s largest biomedical research institute. Over 3,300 staff members from 84 foreign countries, including more than 1,360 scientists, 344 doctoral students and 400 postdoctoral scientists are dedicated to performing and driving cutting edge research for a life without cancer. The characterization of cancer pathomechanisms and epidemiological identification of cancer risk factors are of vital importance for novel and personalized approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Organized in more than 100 different divisions and research groups, our scientists have made decisive progress in the discovery of fundamental causes and special features of cancers, the creation of new, diagnostic and therapeutic strategies through to innovative clinical trials with recent additions in health economy. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association, 19 national research centers that contribute to solving the grand challenges facing science, society, and the economy through top-level research. It is publicly funded, with ninety percent of its funding coming from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the remaining ten percent from the State of Baden-Württemberg.
The DKFZ core site is located on the vibrant Neuenheim Campus in Heidelberg, and closely interacts with renowned clinical and research institutions, such as nearby University Hospitals (Heidelberg, Mannheim), Heidelberg University, the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). The combination of excellent university hospitals with high-profile research at the DKFZ is an important contribution to improving the chances of being cured of cancer.
During the past years the DKFZ has continuously worked to strengthen its translational research activities. The DKFZ – together with the University Hospitals in Heidelberg and Dresden – established the National Centers for Tumor Diseases (NCT), the leading Comprehensive Cancer Centers in Germany. To further strengthen pediatric oncology, the DKFZ together with Heidelberg University Hospital has founded the Hopp Childrens’ Tumor Center (KiTZ) at the NCT in Heidelberg.
Another important activity of the DFKZ in the area of translational research is the German Cancer Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK). More than 20 academic research institutes and university hospitals at seven partner locations cooperate with the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the consortium’s core center.
Heidelberg – a “City of Science” – is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Germany with a very international community: An estimated 56,000 of Heidelberg’s 160,000 inhabitants have an international background – many of whom are scientists, students and their families.
Research Topics and Scientific Collaborations
The DKFZ is an international leader in a number of research areas including stem cell research, bioinformatics and systems biology, cancer genomics, neurooncology, pediatric oncology, cancer prevention, tumor immunology, virology, and radiooncology.
Research at the DKFZ is organized into six research programs:
Research at the DKFZ is highly collaborative across research programs, exemplified by the topic of data science.
Several scientists at the DKFZ have received the most prestigious academic awards, including Prof. Harald zur Hausen, awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2008 for his pioneering work on Human Papilloma Viruses (HPV) , Prof. Stefan Hell, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research on super-resolution imaging, Prof. Ralf Bartenschlager, who was a recipient of the 2016 Lasker~DeBakey Award in recognition of his ground-breaking research on Hepatitis C Virus, and Prof. Hans-Reimer Rodewald who received the 2019 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize for his work on how various types of immune cells develop from stem cells and together form a functioning immune system. In 2020 Neurobiologist Hannah Monyer received the Lautenschläger Research Prize.
In Heidelberg, the DKFZ partners with Heidelberg University in the German Excellence Initiative, with the DKFZ-ZMBH Alliance and the CellNetworks Cluster of Excellence being notable joint activities. Additional national strategic partnerships include the National Center for Radiation Research in Oncology (HIRO in Heidelberg and OncoRay in Dresden), the Heidelberg Ion-Beam Therapy Center (HIT) and HI-STEM (Heidelberg Institute for Stem Cell Technology and Experimental Medicine, a joint venture with the Dietmar Hopp Foundation). The DKFZ-Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Centre Mannheim and the Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology Mainz – A Helmholtz Institute of the DKFZ - are further important partnerships.
Training Programs and Career Development
Talent management and career development are central parts of DKFZ’s mission to maintain scientific excellence. The DKFZ places strong emphasis on the international recruitment and comprehensive training of excellent scientists, specifically welcoming diverse and international backgrounds, The center has developed programs to support the reconsilation of family and careers at all levels.
Dedicated programs prepare young scientists and clinicians for their next career step:
· DKFZ Junior Researchgroups-Program
Outreach and Innovation Management
As part of its societal outreach activities, the DKFZ runs the Cancer Information Service (KID), a free telephone and web-based counselling service for cancer patients throughout Germany, which provides patients, their families and also medical staff with evidence-based comprehensive information. The WHO collaborating center on Tobacco control advises the government and is a public advocate for cancer prevention.
The DKFZ builds on strong Innovation Management to foster the development of innovative preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic products for maximum societal benefit. Its supports technology transfer through licensing and support of spin-off companies. Recent examples include iOmx, Apogenix and mtm. The DKFZ also has strong collaborations with industry partners; Together with Bayer Healthcare, the center has a long-standing strategic cooperation to support joint projects, including a joint laboratory on immunotherapy located at the DKFZ. Other industry partners include Bosch, SAP and Siemens.