Anthropology and Human Genetics

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Cancer Evolution

While the evolutionary nature of cancer and hematopoietic neoplasms is well established, it is challenging to generate and analyze data to quantify the dynamics of this Darwinian process. This is a clinical problem, for example when therapy-resistant cancer cells relapse after an initially successful treatment. Hence, patients die because the tumor is able to evolve.

Hematologic neoplasms such as leukemia and lymphoma are well suited to study this process, because intact cells can be sampled and studied in detail during disease progression. To better understand and eventually influence this process, it is necessary to measure how much heritable variation exists and how fast it is generated, i.e. to measure the amount of genetic and epigenetic heterogeneity. New technologies to characterize genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity at the single cell level have made it possible to tackle this issue.

We are proud to have been part of the fantastic Collaborative Research Project – SFB 1243 - on the Genetic and Epigenetic Evolution of Hematopoietic Neoplasms. 

We continue our work on Cancer evolution with the help of the Cyliax foundation.


  • Bulk and single-cell RNA-sequencing
  • Single-cell DNA-sequencing
  • single molecule Molecular Inversion Probes (smMIPs)
  • Genetic barcoding