The tumour microenvironment constitutes a dynamic heterogeneous cell compartment that provides an important niche for the embedded cancer (stem) cells. Using patient-derived liquid biopsies, we are developing ex vivo 3D models to 1) faithfully resemble in vivo tumour biology, 2) study cancer (stem) cells in a comprehensive tumour microenvironment and 3) establish precision medicine approaches.
Bio: Prof Chris Heeschen obtained his MD in 1997 at the Free University of Berlin (Germany). During his clinical training in Internal Medicine at the University of Hamburg and the University of Frankfurt (1996 – 2004), he undertook a PhD project in basic mechanisms of angiogenesis and vasculogenic stem cells at the Falk Cardiovascular Research Centre at Stanford University (USA). Prof Heeschen subsequently became Head of the Department Experimental at Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich (Germany), and has since held several leadership positions including founding member of the Clinical Research Programme in the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (2008) and lead of the new Centre for Stem Cells in Cancer & Ageing at Barts Cancer Institute in London (2013). In January of this year, he joined UNSW Sydney to establish his translational research program, with a particular focus on pancreatic cancer, at the Lowy Cancer Research Institute (Randwick Campus) and the Ingham Institute (Liverpool Campus). Prof Heeschen’s work has significantly advanced our understanding of the basic processes of stem cell function and trafficking. His success is evidenced by over 150 articles in high-impact scientific journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, Nature Medicine, The Lancet, Cancer Cell, and Cell Stem Cell, numerous international awards and an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant for pancreatic cancer research.