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Seed Funding

In order to develop and expand innovative ideas, HI-TRON Mainz has so far issued two calls for funding. The "Kick-Start Seed Funding" was published in 2021, followed by the "Seed Funding" call in 2023.

Both calls aim to facilitate the rapid transfer of scientific findings into clinical applications and to exploit synergies between scientists based in Mainz and Heidelberg. The HI-TRON Mainz (Kick-Start) Seed Funding Program therefore provides seed funding for cross-institutional projects with a clear translational focus and a pathway to implementation in patient care. HI-TRON Mainz also supports bringing together basic and clinically active scientists for joint translational (Kick-Start) Seed Funding applications. The proposed projects are highly innovative, align with the focus of HI-TRON and its platforms, and focus on diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of cancer immunotherapy in the areas of "biomarker development" and “identification and validation of novel therapeutic targets.”

Seed Funding 2023

Project 1: Targeting antigens shared by tumor and stromal cells with natural MHC-independent T-cell receptors (Corresponding PI: Thomas Wölfel)

Prof. Dr. Thomas Wölfel (UMC)
Dr. Catherine Wölfel (UMC)
Dr. Hakim Echchannaoui (UMC)
Prof. Dr. Rienk Offringa (DKFZ)
Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Matthias Gaida (UMC/TRON)
Dr. Michael Volkmar (DKFZ/HI-TRON)

Project 2: Project FIT: Increasing the fitness of CAR/TCR-T cells by co-expressing a novel chimeric switch receptor (Corresponding PI: Hakim Echchannaoui)

Dr. phil. nat. Hakim Echchannaoui (UMC/DKTK)
Prof. Dr. Niels Halama (DKFZ)
Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Matthias Gaida (UMC/TRON)
Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Matthias Theobald (UMC/DKTK)
Dr. med. Kevin Legscha (UMC)
Edite Antunes (UMC)

Project 3: Exploring the landscape of ligandomes and corresponding T cell receptor repertoires in patients with cancer of unknown primary (CUP) (Corresponding PI: Niels Halama)

Prof. Dr. Niels Halama (DKFZ/HI-TRON)
Prof. Dr. Stefan Tenzer (UMC/DKFZ/HI-TRON)
Dr. Michael Volkmar (DKFZ/HI-TRON)
Dr. med. Alwin Krämer (UKHD/DKFZ)

Project 4: Detection of targetable immunogenic brain tumor epitopes in tissue and peripheral compartments (Corresponding PI: Isabel Poschke)

Dr. Isabel Poschke (DKFZ)
Prof. Dr. Stefan Tenzer (UMC/DKFZ/HI-TRON)
Dr. Michael Volkmar (DKFZ/HI-TRON)
Dr. David Gomez-Zepeda (DKFZ/HI-TRON)

Kick Start Seed Funding 2021

Project 1: To enhance anti-tumor immune responses by inhibiting a pair of immune checkpoints 
(Corresponding PI: Guoliang Cui)

Dr. Guiliang Cui (DKFZ/HI-TRON)
Dr. Sebastian Kreiter (TRON)
Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Gaida, Matthias (UMC)
Dr. Nadja Salomon (TRON)
Dr. Tina Büchling (TRON)

Project 2: FIDELIO Detection and validation of gene Fusion-Induced neoepitopes and cognate T-cell receptors in DEdifferentiated LIposarcOma 
(Corresponding PI: Stefan Fröhling)

Prof. Dr. Stefan Fröhling (DKFZ)
Sebastian Uhrig (DKFZ/NCT)
Prof. Dr. Dirk Jäger (DKFZ)
Dr. Priya Chadusama (DKFZ) 
PD Dr. Dr. Angelika Riemer (DKFZ)
Dr. Mogjiborahman Salek (DKFZ) 
Dr. David Weber (TRON) 
Dr. Isabel Poschke (DKFZ) 
Dr. Theresa Bunse (DKFZ) 
Dr. Michael Volkmar (DKFZ/HI-TRON) 
Dr. Tina Büchling (TRON)

Project 3: Regulation of immune evasion in the tumor microenvironment by coagulation signaling 
(Corresponding PI: Claudine Graf)

Dr. Claudine Graf (UMC)
Prof. Dr. Stefan Fröhling (NCT) 
Dr. Simon Kreutzfeld (NCT) 
Prof. Dr. Thomas Kindler (UMC/UCT) 
Dr. Daniel Wagner (UMC) 
Prof. Dr. Wilfried Roth (UMC)

Project 4: B-cells as a target in immunotherapy of NASH/BASH and liver cancer 
(Corresponding PI: Mathias Heikenwälder)

Prof. Dr. Mathias Heikenwälder (DKFZ) 
Prof. Dr. Ari Waisman (UMC) 
Dr. Axel Szabowski (DKFZ)

Project 5: Investigating the interaction of B- and T-cell mediated immune responses to pancreatic cancer toward an immunotherapy approach 
(Corresponding PI: Jörg D. Hoheisel)

Dr. Jörg Hoheisel (DKFZ) 
Dr. Mustafa Diken (TRON) 
Dr. Sonja Witzel (TRON) 
Henning Boekhoff (DKFZ) 
Lisa Greiner (DKFZ) 
Dr. Tina Büchling (TRON)

Project 6: TCR-sequencing of human CD8+ T cells specific for H. pylori antigens presented by tumor cells 
(Corresponding PI: Martin Löwer)

Dr. Martin Löwer (TRON) 
Dr. Michael Volkmar (DKFZ/HI-TRON) 
Dr. Fulvia Vascotto (TRON) 
Dr. Barbara Schrörs (TRON) 
Prof. Dr. Peter Grimminger (UMC) 
Dr. Özlem Akilli-Oeztuerk (TRON) 
Dr. Tina Büchling (TRON)

Project 7: Membrane proteins and lipids as targets for immunotherapy in pediatric cancer patients 
(Corresponding PI: Jörg Faber)

Prof. Dr. Jörg Faber (UMC)
PD Dr. Claudia Paret (UMC) 
Prof. Dr. Wilfried Roth (UMC) 
Dr. Larissa Seidmann (UMC) 
PD Dr Russo (UMC) 
Dr. Wingerter (UMC) 
Dr. El Malki (UMC) 
Dr. Özlem Akilli-Öztürk (TRON) 
PD Dr. Roger Sandhoff (DKFZ) 
Dr. Tina Büchling (TRON)

Project 8: Generating Neoepitopes by ADAR1-mediated RNA base-editing: A New Tool for Immunotherapy 
(Corresponding PI: Riccardo Pecori)

Dr. Riccardo Pecori (DKFZ) 
Prof. Dr. Stefan Tenzer (DKFZ/HI-TRON/UMC)
Annette Arnold (DKFZ) 
Beatrice Casati (DKFZ) 
Dr. Tina Büchling (TRON)

Project 9: Effects of a new signaling pathway in cancer cells on T cell mediated therapeutic outcome upon checkpoint inhibitor treatment 
(Corresponding PI: Fulvia Vascotto)

Dr. Fulvia Vascotto (TRON)
Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Gaida, Matthias (UMC)
Dr. Darius Tschaharganeh (DKFZ)
Steven Zenner (TRON)
Dr. Tina Büchling (TRON)

Project 10: Utilization of the HLA-independent anti-tumor T-cell repertoire for cancer immunotherapy 
(Corresponding PI: Thomas Wölfel)

Prof. Dr. Thomas Wölfel (UMC/FZI/DKTK)
Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Gaida, Matthias (UMC/TRON)
Dr. Hakim Echchannaoui (UMC) 
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sven Danckwardt (UMC) 
Daniela Eberts (UMC) 
Prof. Dr. Matthias Theobald (UMC/FZI/DKTK) 
Dr. Udo Hartwig (UMC) 
Dr. Tina Büchling (TRON)