With the flagship towards Portland: Sebastian Marwitz raises DFG funding

Sebastian Marwitz. Photo: private

Portland instead of Borstel: Dr. Sebastian Marwitz continues his studies on the TGF-β pathway in lung cancer as Visiting Scholar at Providence Portland Medical Center in Portland/Oregon (USA). The postdoc raised funding of approx. 40.000 €  from the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG).  

Usually, Sebastian Marwitz works in the pathology of Research Center Borstel. He is postdoc in the lab of DZL Principal Investigator Prof. Dr. Torsten Goldmann and investigates the influence of the TGF-β pathway on Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. TGF-β (Transforming Growth Factor Beta) is a protein with high relevance for cancer development and therefore central topic of the basic science flagship of the DZL Disease Area Lung Cancer. Recently, Marwitz and colleagues from DZL sites ARCN and TLRC published new findings in this area in the journal Cancer Research: Accordingly, the protein BAMBI can form a pseudoreceptor which disables signal transduction through the TGF-β signaling cascade. As a consequence of this, tumor invasiveness decreases as shown by studies in cell culture and animal models. It is already known that the TGF-β pathway has impact on the immune system. Marwitz now poses the question how the pathway influences direct tumor environment and local immune response. This is especially intriguing, because tumors often hide from the immune defense. New treatment options tackle exactly this point: These so-called immune therapies are able to successfully lift the blockade of the immune system in many patients. Marwitz’s studies aim at a better understanding of the interaction between tumor and immune system in order to find new target molecules for therapy.

In order to promote his research on the influence of TGF-β on the tumor environment, Marwitz made contact with Prof. Dr. Bernard Fox from Portland/Oregon. Fox is Head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Tumor Immunology at Earle A Chiles Research Institute of the Providence Portland Medical Center. He is expert for multiplex immunohistochemistry and multi-spectral imaging. Both techniques allow for parallel analysis of a high number of proteins in tissue samples from patients.

After six months in Portland, Marwitz is impressed by the way young researchers are promoted and by the research focus on translation: „Most of the experiments are targeted towards the direct improvement of patient treatment or the improvement of diagnostics“.

DFG assigns Research Fellowships to German early career researchers who want to conduct a project at a foreign lab of their choice. Aim of the project might be learning a new technique or a research method. The experiments carried out by Sebastian Marwitz are of value for the whole DZL and might bring progress for the flagship project.


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