Welcome to the Division of Molecular Pathology, a research laboratory devoted to translational research, connecting basic moledular biology with medical sciences.

The research of the Kirfel lab focuses on the control of transcriptional regulation, particularly on cofactors and chromatin modifying enzymes, with emphasis on their roles in cancer. To address these areas, we utilize state-of-the-art molecular, cellular and biochemical techniques in combination with next generation technologies such as ChIP-seq and RNA-seq.

In addition, we evaluate new strategies for molecular pathological diagnostics in order to implement the most suitable methods into routine diagnostics.


The lab is interested in several aspects of cancer research:

Poject: Histone modifying enzymes
The genetic abnormalities that drive tumorigenesis are usually coupled with epigenetic alterations, such as DNA methylation and aberrant histone modifications, which may help oncogenic drivers accelerate cancer progression, metastasis, and therapy resistance. Histone methylation has been shown to be a key player in the regulation of gene expression and genetic stability, and not surprisingly, dysregulation of this highly conserved process occurs in various cancers. The recent discovery of histone demethylases and their role in the regulation of posttranslational modifications of chromatin have greatly contributed to our understanding of epigenetics in tumorigenesis and have provided potential additional therapeutics. We are interested in understanding the functions of histone demethylases in cancer and the potential therapeutic value to target histone demethylases in cancer.

Project: Mediator complex
We are also investigating the role of Mediator complex subunits in lung cancer initiation, progression and metastasis. The Mediator complex is the central integrator of transcription an influences different signaling pathways, therefor it is not surprising that aberrant expression of activity of Mediator complex subunits are linked to activation of oncogenic signaling pathways that lead to cancer progression and metastasis. Our aim is to investigate whether dysregulation in non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) depend on aberrant activity of the Mediator complex and whether its subunits can be used as drug targets in metastatic NSCLC.

Project: Cancer diagnostics
Several cancer genome alterations are important in guiding molecularly informed therapy decision. Therefore, sensitive analytical methods are needed to ensure accurate molecular diagnosis and therapeutic patient stratification. We work on developing sensitive methods for the detection of somatic alteration in clinical cancer specimens.


Kirfel, Jutta

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Jutta Kirfel
Principal Investigator, Head of the Division
phone: 0451 3101-8751

Scientists/Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterinnen

Dr. rer. nat. Helen Pasternack
Head of Molecular Diagnostics / Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Phone: 0451 3101-8755

Kirfel, Jutta

Dr. rer. hum. biol. Pamela Lazar-Karsten
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Phone: 0451 3101-8756

Doctoral Students/Doktorandinnen + Doktoranden

Alexandra Kuczynski  
Medical Doctoral Student

Mirijam Polzer  
Medical Doctoral Student

Anna-Lena Lemster  
Doctoral Student
Phone: 0451 500-15856

Saskia Fischer  
Medical Doctoral Student


Michelle Thiermann

Maryam Rezaienia  

Guest Scientists/Gastwissenschaftlerinnen und - wissenschaftler

Currently none

Open Positions

Are you passionate about cancer research and epigenetics?

We offer a wide variety of positions in cancer research addressing applicants with a background in Molecular Life Science, Medicine and Biology.

Please send your letter of application and your CV in PDF format to