Our research focuses on improving the outcomes of children with cancer

Developmental neurobiology and pediatric neurooncology

Prof. 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 (DNA and RNA sequencing, global methylation analyses/850K arrays, Western blot, FACS analyses, etc.), histology including immunohistochemistry and FISH,  assays of cell biology including primary cell cultures, proliferation assays, viral transductions, as well as bioinformatics (machine learning, t-SNE, PCA, UMAP).

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. After rejection of calls from the Universities of Würzburg and Lausanne,  Ulrich Schüller was appointed Professor for molecular pediatric Neurooncology at the University Medical Center Hamburg, Germany in 2016. 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. Here, he oversees the diagnostics of pediatric brain tumors and molecular neuropathology. He serves as the reference neuropathologist for the SIOP Ependymoma II study for the treatment of children with ependymomas and runs the UKE core facility for global methylation analyses.

German Cancer Aid

Else Kröner-Fresenius-Foundation

Fritz Thyssen Foundation

Werner Otto Stiftung

Wilhelm Sander-Foundation

Gert and Susanna Mayer Foundation

Gesellschaft für KinderKrebsForschung

German Research Foundation

Merk D, Ohli J, Merk N, Thatikonda V, Morrissy S, Schoof M, Schmid S, Harrison L, Filser S, Ahlfeld J, Erkek S, Raithatha K, Andreska T, Weißhaar M, Launspach M, Neumann J, Shakarami M, Plenker D, Marra M, Li Y, Mungall A, Moore R, Ma Y, Jones S, Lutz B, Ertl-Wagner B, Rossi A, Wagener R, Siebert R, Jung A, Eberhart C, Lach B, Sendtner M, Pfister S, Taylor M, Chavez L, Kool M, Schüller U. Opposing effects of CREBBP mutations govern the phenotype of Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome and adult SHH medulloblastoma. Dev Cell, 2018. 44, 709–724.

Neumann J, Wefers A, Lambo S., Bianchi E, Bockstaller M, Dorostkar M, Meister V, Schindler P, Korshunov A, von Hoff K, Nowak J, Warmuth-Metz M, Schneider M, Müller-Renner I, Merk D, Shakarami M, Sharma T, Chavez L, Glass R, Chan J, Taketo M, Neumann P, Kool M, Schüller U. A mouse model for Embryonal Tumors with Multilayered Rosettes (ETMRs) predicts tumor responsiveness to Sonic hedgehog inhibitors. Nat Med. 2017; 23(10):1191-1202

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.

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.

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 

Prof. Ulrich Schüller

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schüller

Research Group Leader Pediatric Neurooncology
Phone: +49 (0) 40 / 42605-1240

Ann-Kristin Afflerbach

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


Sina Al-Kershi

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


Nicole Bernhardt

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


Dr. Michael Bockmayr

Clinician Scientist
Phone: +49 (0) 40 / 42605-1260


Alicia Eckhardt

M.Sc. Physics, PhD student
Phone: +49 (0)40 / 42605-1260


Emma-Maria Efremova

Bioinformatician / PhD student
Phone: +49(0)40 / 42605-1260

Max Ehlert

Physician, PhD student
Phone: +49(0)40 / 42605-1245


Gefion Dorothea Epplen

Physician, PhD student
Phone: +49(0)40 / 42605-1245


Carolin Göbel

M.Sc. Biotechnology, PhD student
Phone: +49(0)40 / 42605-1235


Swenja Gödicke

Physician, PhD student
Phone: +49(0)40 / 42605-1245


Lea Frieda Holst

Physician, PhD student
Phone: +49(0)40 / 42605-1245


Jacqueline Kolanski

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


Meik Körner

Physician, PhD student
Phone: +49 (0) 40 / 42605-1260

Dr. Catena Kresbach

Clinician Scientist
Phone: +49(0)40 / 42605-1245

Carolin Loose

Physician, PhD student
Phone: +49(0)40 / 42605-1245


Dr. Judith Niesen

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


Lara Pohl

Physician, PhD student
Phone: +49 (0) 40 / 42605-1260


Sepehr Safaie

Physician, PhD student
Phone: +49 (0) 40 / 42605-1260


Dr. Melanie Schoof

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


Vanessa Thaden

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