Translational Tumor Genetics and Immunotherapy Research Group

German version

Our goal is to contribute to better outcomes for cancer patients by focusing our research efforts in two main areas. We develop novel immunotherapeutic approaches in hematological cancers and solid tumors and we use liquid biopsies to understand the cancer genome and measure treatment response in cancer patients at high resolution.

Zur Person

Dr. Sven Borchmann studied medicine in Cologne, Germany from 2009–2015. He completed his doctorate in 2016 in the group of Prof. Elke Pogge von Strandmann (Marburg, Germany). In his doctoral thesis he focused on the development of new bispecific antibody therapies for colon cancer.

In 2015 Dr. Borchmann joined the Department of Internal Medicine I at the Cologne University Hospital under the direction of Prof. Hallek. During his clinical training, he worked as a study physician in the German Hodgkin Study Group under the direction of Prof. Andreas Engert and published several papers on clinical issues in Hodgkin lymphoma, including a translational paper on vitamin D deficiency in Hodgkin lymphoma and its effect on chemotherapy efficacy. For this research, he has been awarded the Else Kröner Fresenius Publication Prize. In 2016, Dr. Borchmann undertook part of his training at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York under the direction of Prof. Anas Younes. From 2017 to 2019, Dr. Borchmann was a Fellow of the Else Kröner Fresenius Research College Clonal Evolution in Cancer and joined the laboratory of Prof. Ullrich in Cologne, Germany as a postdoctoral researcher. During this time, he focused on the development of combination immunotherapies in various cancer mouse models, which have been difficult to treat with conventional immunotherapeutic approaches. Since 2020, Dr. Borchmann is an independent group leader and heads the working group for translational tumor genetics and immunotherapy.

Research focus areas

  • Liquid Biopsies
  • Translational Research in Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Bispecific Antibody Development
  • Drug Repurposing for Immunotherapy
  • Associations between cancers and viruses, bacteria and fungi

Our first focus is the development of new immunotherapeutic approaches for lymphomas and solid tumors such as lung cancer. We have shown that certain combinations of immunotherapies have a synergistic effect and lead to responses in tumors that otherwise do not respond to established immunotherapies. Currently, we are developing these combination approaches further, for example, by developing new bispecific antibody constructs. In other projects we are studying drug repurposing for immunotherapy. Here, we research the immunotherapeutic effects of well-understood drugs that are already approved for other indications.

Our second focus is the development of liquid biopsies for better molecular characterization and treatment monitoring in hematological cancers and solid tumors. We are particularly interested in Hodgkin lymphoma. In close cooperation with the German Hodgkin Study Group (GHSG) and the International Hodgkin Lymphoma MRD Consortium, we developed a platform that allows us to study patient-individual genetic changes at a high level of detail and to use these as individual biomarkers for the respective patient, similar to a molecular fingerprint. Furthermore, in cooperation with other research groups, we are currently evaluating our liquid biopsy platform in other cancers.


Zhiyuan Shi, PhD - PostDoc
Anne-Catherine Neumann, MD - Clinical fellow
Jan-Michel Heger, MD - Clinical fellow
Helge Dörr - Technical assistant and lab manager
Niels Köthemann - MD student
Mia Lohmann - MD student
Laman Mammadova - MD student
Sophia Sobesky - MD student
Andrea Steliou - MD student
Jomy Kuruvila - Master student
Iris Buchberger - Bachelor student

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