Molecular Pathology

Gerda Egger leads the program line focusing on the development of molecular biomarkers for minimal-invasive diagnostics and on the establishment of preclinical test systems.

We aim to develop predictive and prognostic biomarkers for advanced stage prostate and colorectal cancer allowing for a dynamic measure of therapy response and monitoring in patients.

In a first step we will define molecular targets that are suitable for molecular PET/SPECT imaging and for testing in liquid biopsies of patients. Such targets will include therapy relevant mutations, gene expression patterns and epigenetic alterations.

Additionally, we will develop and characterise preclinical models based on organoid cultures and PDX mouse models of hormone refractory PCa and metastatic CRC (Fig.1). These models will be used

  • for preclinical evaluation of established markers,
  • to investigate important questions related to tumor biology (e.g tumor heterogeneity, influence of the tumor microenvironment), and
  • for drug screens to identify novel therapeutic targets and/ or predictive markers.
a. Organoid-like cultures of colon and prostate carcinoma cells isolated from primary tumor tissues (images kindly provided by Helmut Dolznig)
b. Liquid biopsies can be analyzed by artificial intelligence to detect altered DNA fragments in the blood indicating a cancer in the patient. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Hruban, Johns Hopkins University

Head of program line

Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Gerda Egger

Deputy Director, Head of Molecular Pathology

Funded Project: The biological role of PSMA for prostate cancer


FWF Austrian Science Fund Grant N° P 32771 – Stand Alone Projects

Principle Investigators

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Gerda Egger
Raheleh Sheibani-Tezerji, PhD

The project focuses on the biological function of prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA). PSMA is an interesting diagnostic and therapeutic target for prostate cancer, which has been correlated with tumor grade and prognosis.

The integrative approach of this project aims to create a multidimensional picture of prostate cancer using machine/deep learning methods in combination with genome-wide proteomic and epigenomic profiling of patient specimen. It is expected that the project will provide novel insights into prostate cancer biology with high translational impact for patient management and development of novel therapeutic options in the future.

Interactions of patient derived organoid cultures of colorectal cancers and their immune microenvironment


FFG Industrienahe Dissertationen, FFG Nr: 879481

Principle Investigators

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Gerda Egger, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Michael Bergmann

Patient derived organoids (PDO) of human cancers can predict tumor-specific responses to chemo- and radiotherapy, yet fail to model immunological responses. Since the field of cancer therapy is progressively developing towards targeted immunotherapies, in vitro models of immunological responses to cancers are of high importance. We therefore aim to establish co-cultures of PDO and cellular components of the immune system in order to model the interaction of colorectal cancer with its immune microenvironment. We will investigate immunological components of the effectiveness of various chemo- and radiotherapy treatments and probe these as candidates for sensitization of organoids that do not respond to immune-checkpoint-inhibitor treatment. This project will enable accurate in vitro modeling of cancer-immune interactions in precision medicine and basic research.