Clarissa's scientific work in one sentence
My main research interest is the investigation of epigenetic alterations associated with breast and prostate cancer; an additional focus is on the “Metabolic Syndrome” and the possibility to prevent or modulate epigenetic deregulation by dietary intervention.
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PhD: 1993, Pharmaceutical Biology (summa cum laude), Ludwigs-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany
Current Position: Group leader, Division Cancer Epigenomics at German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg
What are - in your opinion - your best publications?
C Gerhäuser, W Mar, SK Lee, N Suh, Y Luo, J Kosmeder, L Luyengi, HH Fong, AD Kinghorn, RM Moriarty, R Mehta, A Constantinou, RC Moon, JM Pezzuto, Rotenoids mediate potent cancer chemopreventive activity through transcriptional regulation of ornithine decarboxylase. Nat Med. 1995; 1(3): 260-266. (special to me since it was the first publication from my post-doc research)
E Heiss, C Herhaus, K Klimo, H Bartsch, C Gerhäuser, Nuclear factor κB is a molecular target for sulforaphane-mediated anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Journal of Biological Chemistry 2001; 276 (34): 32008-32015. (my most cited publication)
Gerhauser C, Favero F, Risch T, Simon R, Feuerbach L, Assenov Y, Heckmann D, Sidiropoulos N, Waszak SM, Hübschmann D, Urbanucci A, Girma EG, Kuryshev V, Klimczak LJ, Saini N, Stütz AM, Weichenhan D, Böttcher LM, Toth R, Hendriksen JD, Koop C, Lutsik P, Matzk S, Warnatz HJ, Amstislavskiy V, Feuerstein C, Raeder B, Bogatyrova O, Schmitz EM, Hube-Magg C, Kluth M, Huland H, Graefen M, Lawerenz C, Henry GH, Yamaguchi TN, Malewska A, Meiners J, Schilling D, Reisinger E, Eils R, Schlesner M, Strand DW, Bristow RG, Boutros PC, von Kalle C, Gordenin D, Sültmann H, Brors B, Sauter G, Plass C, Yaspo ML, Korbel JO, Schlomm T, Weischenfeldt J. Molecular Evolution of Early-Onset Prostate Cancer Identifies Molecular Risk Markers and Clinical Trajectories. Cancer Cell 2018; 34(6): 996-1011.
What are your most important prizes?
EARC Young Cancer Researcher Award Highly Commended 2003
Phoenix Pharmacy Scientific Research Price for “Pharmaceutical Biology” (with Prof. H. Becker, Saarbrücken) 2003
5 questions about research - past, present, future
1. What are your primary tasks and responsibilities in your actual position?
Supervision of master and PhD students, bioinformatic analyses, writing of grant applications and publications, project management.
2. What is it that gives you pleasure and/or satisfaction the most?
I enjoy the challenges of being a scientist, keeping track of the literature and thinking about/discussing how novel findings influence our research questions. Satisfaction comes with breakthroughs and solution of problems.
3. Which research question(s) affects you at the moment? What is its social significance?
Which mechanisms trigger early epigenetic alternations in prostate cancer? How can we identify women with endocrine resistance to anti-hormonal treatment, using epigenetic markers? Both questions are related to better monitoring and personalized treatment of cancer patients.
What is the function of DNA hydroxymethylation accumulation during adipocyte differentiation?
Understanding epigenetic mechanisms and their alterations in obesity and Metabolic syndrome might in the long run contribute to better management of this pandemic diseases.
4. Which publication influenced you the most?
Since I have shifted my research focus several times during my career so far, different publications were most influential during each period. Lately and in relation to AMPro, the publicataion of Rauch et al. from the Mandrup group at the University of Southern Denmark was very important for us: Osteogenesis depends on commissioning of a network of stem cell transcription factors that act as repressors of adipogenesis. Nat Genet. 2019 Apr;51(4):716-727. doi: 10.1038/s41588-019-0359-1.
5. What do you like most about AMPro? What are your particular plans within the collaboration?
AMPro unites groups from various research areas and different institutions. Research questions are often not specific to one research field, and meetings within the AMPro consortium offer an excellent opportunity to discuss and to get feedback in an interdisciplinary environment. Data acquisition in our AMPro project is still ongoing. Once we have finished the initial data analysis, I look forward to discuss our findings within the consortium.
5 questions beyond research
1. What are your experiences with reconciliation of family or private and working life?
During my career, I found it advantageous to live close to work, to avoid long commuting hours. Consequently, I am fortunate to separate private and working life, and I’d rather stay longer at work than to work from home.
2. What is the experience during your PhD you will remember all your life?
One of the aims of my PhD was to identify the antiviral principle of the “tree of life” (Thuja occidentalis), a component of Esberitox(R), a herbal immune-stimulating medicine for common cold diseases. I had isolated several compounds and acquired spectra to solve their structure. I will never forget the moment when I finally managed to identify the well-known antiviral compound podophyllotoxin as a so far unknown constituent of Thuja occidentalis explaining its antiviral activity.
3. Which book and/or movie has lately affected you the most?
I haven’t been to the movies for ages, and I have a big pile of books to read on my nightstand.
4. What are your hobbies?
Traveling and hiking. I also like to go to classical concerts and to the opera (lately to an excellent Manon Lescaut in Frankfurt).
5. What is your favorite color, season and/or football (or other sports) club?
My favorite season is spring, my favorite soccer club is Bayern München.