Our research focuses on improving the outcomes of children with cancer

Developmental neurobiology and pediatric neurooncology

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schüller

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schüller

»Pediatric brain tumors mainly result from pathological alterations during brain development. We therefore must understand the development of the central nervous system in order to identify origin, growth and therapeutic opportunities of the tumors.«

After leukemia, brain tumors still account for the second most frequent cancer in childhood, and certain tumor types still go along with a particularly bad prognosis. The lab is interested in cellular origins, pathogenesis, and therapy options of medulloblastoma, atypical teratoid/rhaboid tumors (AT/RT), embryonal tumors with multilayered rosettes (ETMR), and pediatric glioma. Our own work and publications from other labs have revealed that pathological regulations of evolutionary highly conserved signaling pathways significantly contribute to the development of pediatric brain tumors. The signaling pathways, which the lab mainly focusses on, are the Sonic hedgehog (Shh) and the Wnt signaling pathway. The fundamental understanding of the function of theses pathways during normal brain development shall serve as a basis for the understanding of tumorigenesis.

We work with human tumor material, cell culture systems and transgenic mouse models, which we generate according to the molecular biology of the tumors. Methods that we apply include classical methods of molecular biology (gene expression analyses, array technologies, luciferase assays, PCR techniques, Western blot, FACS analyses, etc.) as well as histology including immunohistochemistry and assays of cell biology including primary cell cultures, proliferation assays, siRNA, viral transductions, etc.

In close collaboration with the German study center for pediatric brain tumors (HIT) at the clinics for pediatric hematology and oncology of the University Medical Center Hamburg (Prof. Stefan Rutkowski), we try to interpret our results in the light of clinical parameters and to quickly translate most promising results into clinics.

After Medical school in Freiburg, Bonn, and Munich, Ulrich Schüller wrote his theses at the University of Bonn. He started his residency at the Institute of Neuropathology in Bonn and left Germany 2005-2006 to do a postdoc at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, USA, which was supported by the Germany Cancer Aid. From the beginning, he focused his research on the development of the central nervous system and the formation of pediatric brain tumors. 2007 he returned to Germany and obtained his board certification as a neuropathologist in 2009.

Simultaneously, he started his own lab at the Center for Neuropathology at the University of Munich (LMU), again mainly supported by the German Cancer Aid. 2016, Ulrich Schüller was appointed Professor for molecular pediatric Neurooncology at the University Medical Center Hamburg, Germany. Besides his research, which is based at the Research Institute Children’s Cancer Center Hamburg, he is also functioning as an attending physician at the Institute of Neuropathology.

German Cancer Aid

Else Kröner-Fresenius-Foundation

Fritz Thyssen Foundation

Wilhelm Sander-Foundation

Ohli J, Neumann J, Grammel D, Schüller U. Localization of SHH medulloblastoma in mice depends on the age at its initiation. Acta Neuropathol. 2015; 130(2): 307-9.

Moreno N, Schmidt C, Ahlfeld J, Pöschl J, Dittmar S, Pfister S, Kool M, Kerl K, Schüller U. Loss of Smarc proteins impairs cerebellar development. J Neurosci. 2014; 34(40): 13486 -13491.

Ahlfeld J, Favaro R, Pagella P, Kretzschmar H, Nicolis S, Schüller U. Sox2 requirement in Sonic-hedgehog-associated medulloblastoma. Cancer Res. 2013; 73(12): 3796–807.

Grammel D, Warmuth-Metz M, von Bueren A O, Kool M, Pietsch T, Kretzschmar HA, Rowitch DH, Rutkowski S, Pfister SM, Schüller U. Sonic hedgehog-associated medulloblastoma arising from the cochlear nuclei of the brainstem. Acta Neuropathol. 2012; 123(4):601-14.

Priller M, Pöschl J, Abrão L, von Bueren A, Cho Y, Rutkowski S, Kretzschmar H, Schüller U. Expression of FoxM1 is required for the proliferation of medulloblastoma cells and indicates worse survival of patients. Clin Cancer Res. 2011; 17: 6791-6801.

Schüller U, Heine V, Mao J, Kho AT, Dillon AK, Han YG, Huillard E, Sun T, Ligon AH, Qian Y, Ma Q, Alvarez-Buylla A, McMahon A, Rowitch DH, Ligon KL. Acquisition of granule neuron precursor identity is a critical determinant of progenitor cell competence to form Hedgehog-induced medulloblastoma. Cancer Cell. 2008; 14: 123-134.


Complete List of Publications: Pubmed 

Margarethe Gregersen

Biological Technical Assistant
Phone: +49(0)40 / 42605-1220


Malte Hellwig

M.Sc. Pharmaceutical Research, PhD student
Phone: +49 (0) 40 / 42605-1220




Dörthe Holdhof

M.Sc. Medical Life Sciences, PhD student
Phone:+49(0) 40 / 42605 - 1245



Till Holsten

Clinician Scientist
Phone: +49(0)40 / 42605-1216

Dr. Judith Niesen

Dipl. Biologist, postdoctoral fellow
Phone: +49 (0) 40 - 42605-1214



Melanie Schoof

M.Sc. Molecular Biotechnology, PhD student
Phone: +49 (0) 40 / 42605-1245