NCT has implemented the NCT Precision Oncology Program (NCT POP) as a center-wide master strategy that, together with NCT’s dedicated Clinical Cancer Research Programs, coordinates all translational activities and focuses resources towards individualized cancer medicine, including patient-oriented strategies in genomics, proteomics, immunology, radiooncology, prevention, and early clinical development.

Within more than 50 scientific projects, which have expanded rapidly towards prospective studies, the NCT Precision Oncology Program (NCT POP) and the Heidelberg Center for Personalized Oncology (DKFZ-HIPO) provide high-resolution genetic information on large patient cohorts, which is managed in a central data repository, allowing for comprehensive cross-entity analyses. Important examples include systematic epigenetic profiling, detailed quantitative immunomics, and characterization of the tumor-initiating cell compartment in various cancers. Additional layers of characterization focus on determining the functional properties of specific cancer genotypes – using both genetic and pharmacologic perturbations – and systematic proteomic studies of primary human cancer specimen.

Examination of samples

By combining forces between genomics, systems biology and translation, the two personalized oncology initiatives on campus, the Heidelberg Center for Personalized Oncology and NCT POP, integrate the best research groups in functional genomics, systems biology and translational oncology under a unified organizational structure.

The technology platform for high-throughput sequencing, data analysis and imaging features all required technology for pursuing the center’s ambitious goals. In particular, it integrates the next generation sequencing platform for the analysis of whole genomes, methylomes and transcriptomes with a bioinformatics platform that hosts Germany’s largest data facility in the life sciences together with a very strong genome data analysis group that oversees the entire data analysis in all three German ICGC projects.

Within HIPO2 NCT POP directly links the activities within HIPO to clinical programs and allows the rapid transfer of scientific knowledge into clinical applications working on molecular target identification and drug screening in primary cancer tissues to discover predictive and prognostic markers and clinically develop new cancer targets.