Prof. Dr. med. Thorsten Zenz
Phone: +49 6221 565931




Molecular Therapy in Haematology and Oncology


The main focus of our group is to 1) advance our understanding of molecular and genetic lesions in the pathogenesis of lymphoma subtypes and 2) use this understanding to exploit it therapeutically.
Over the last years, we have contributed to the understanding how genetic lesions contribute to lymphomagenesis. One particular focus of the group has been to define the role of the p53 pathway and particular mutant p53 in lymphoma. In addition to the assessment of molecular and clinical consequences of these genetic lesions, we focus on the identification of alternative drivers of disease traits.
To develop rational and biology-based ways for patient benefit from advances in molecular understanding and targeted drug treatment, we pursue an innovative strategy based on the comprehensive mapping and understanding of individual cancers’ vulnerability to compounds, pathway inhibitors and drugs as well as genome-wide silencing triggers (RNAi, CRISPR).



  • Thorsten Zenz, MD
  • Sascha Dietrich, MD (Group leader, BMBF/MMPU group)
  • Jennifer Hüllein, PhD Student
  • Alexander Jethwa, PhD Student
  • Vladislav Kim, student
  • Marina Lukas, MD student
  • Leopold Sellner, MD
  • Kwang Seok Lee, PhD Student
  • Mikołaj Słabicki, PhD
  • Kasia Tomska, MD student
  • Lena Wagner, Technician
  • Tatjana Walther, Technician

Key publications

  1. Oakes CC, Seifert M, Assenov Y, Gu L, Przekopowitz M, Ruppert AS, Wang Q, Imbusch CD, Serva A, Koser SD, Brocks D, Lipka DB, Bogatyrova O, Weichenhan D, Brors B, Rassenti L, Kipps TJ, Mertens D, Zapatka M, Lichter P, Döhner H, Küppers R, Zenz T, Stilgenbauer S, Byrd JC, Plass C. DNA methylation dynamics during B cell maturation underlie a continuum of disease phenotypes in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Nat Genet. 2016 Mar;48(3):253-64. doi: 10.1038/ng.3488.

  2. Dietrich S, Hüllein J, Lee SC, Hutter B, Gonzalez D, Jayne S, Dyer MJ, Oleś M, Else M, Liu X, Słabicki M, Wu B, Troussard X, Dürig J, Andrulis M, Dearden C, von Kalle C, Granzow M, Jauch A, Fröhling S, Huber W, Meggendorfer M, Haferlach T, Ho AD, Richter D, Brors B, Glimm H, Matutes E, Abdel Wahab O, Zenz T. Recurrent CDKN1B (p27) mutations in hairy cell leukemia. Blood. 2015 Aug 20;126(8):1005-8.

  3. Oakes CC, Claus R, Gu L, Assenov Y, Hüllein J, Zucknick M, Bieg M, Brocks D, Bogatyrova O, Schmidt CR, Rassenti L, Kipps TJ, Mertens D, Lichter P, Döhner H, Stilgenbauer S, Byrd JC, Zenz T, Plass C. Evolution of DNA methylation is linked to genetic aberrations in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Cancer Discov. 2014 Mar;4(3):348-61. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-13-0349.

  4. Dietrich S, Glimm H, Andrulis M, von Kalle C, Ho AD, Zenz T. BRAF inhibition in refractory hairy-cell leukemia. N Engl J Med. 2012 May 24;366(21):2038-40.

  5. Zenz T, Mertens D, Küppers R, Döhner H, Stilgenbauer S. From pathogenesis to treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Nat Rev Cancer. 2010 Jan;10(1):37-50.