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ERC Consolidator Grant for Basel physician Claudia Lengerke

ERC logo in front of the Basel skyline

Prof. Dr. Claudia Lengerke is clinical professor for hematology and stem cell research at the University of Basel and a senior physician at the University Hospital Basel. For her groundbreaking project in leukemia research, the physician is now receiving a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) in the amount of approx. two million euros over five years.

15 January 2020

The ERC Consolidator Grants were awarded for the sixth time in 2019. These grants support highly qualified junior researchers who have seven to twelve years of experience after their doctorate and have a promising scientific track record. After a first round of grants in autumn 2019, in which three researchers from the University of Basel were successful, the ERC has now awarded another Consolidator Grant to a Basel scientist in a second round; this is the first individual ERC Grant for a clinical professorship at the University of Basel.

Prof. Dr. Claudia Lengerke
Prof. Dr. Claudia Lengerke

Leukemia: Mechanisms of resistance

Lengerke, head of a research group at the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel and University Hospital Basel, is investigating the importance of stem cells and stem cell-associated proteins in cancer and regeneration. An important focus is the investigation of stemness in leukemia. Recently, Lengerke and colleagues have shown that subpopulations of so-called leukemic stem cells are more resistant to chemotherapy and immune cells compared to non-stem cells. Such leukemic stem cells are also thought to selectively survive anti-leukemic therapies and cause fatal relapses in patients.

Lengerke's project is investigating novel strategies for the elimination of leukemia stem cells. It hypothesizes that these cancer stem cells need to colonize bone marrow niches in order to maintain their cellular identity. To do so, they must displace the natural inhabitants of these niches - the healthy hematopoietic stem cells. The project examines the competition between leukemic and hematopoietic stem cells and aims to develop treatments that fight leukemic stem cells more efficiently.

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