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Özlem Türeci appointed new Professor of Personalized Immunotherapy at HI-TRON Mainz

The world-renowned immunologist, cancer researcher, and entrepreneur Özlem Türeci has accepted the professorship of Personalized Immunotherapy at the Mainz University Medical Center and the Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON) Mainz, which was founded in 2019. HI-TRON is a partnership between the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and a subsidiary of the Mainz University Medical Center, TRON gGmbH, along with the Mainz University Medical Center and the University of Mainz. The aim of this collaboration is to develop effective immunotherapies and to identify new biomarkers for treatment.

Özlem Türeci © BioNTech

At HI-TRON Mainz, Prof. Özlem Türeci will be promoting the development and preclinical study of innovative immunotherapy concepts. These include precision immunotherapies such as individualized RNA vaccines and genetically modified T cells that target mutant tumor proteins known as neoantigens. "In my division at HI-TRON Mainz, we aim to use personalized approaches to help make the patient's immune system a powerful weapon against cancer," explained Özlem Türeci. "For me, ensuring that our results reach the patients quickly is one of the key goals, so we will be consistently gearing our research toward translation."

"We are proud and delighted that Özlem Türeci, an outstanding immunologist and cancer researcher, is coming to HI-TRON Mainz. Her expertise in developing innovative cancer immunotherapies is unparalleled across the globe," commented Prof. Michael Baumann, Chairman of the DKFZ. "HI-TRON Mainz and patients throughout the world will particularly benefit from her extensive experience in translating laboratory results into clinical studies."

"Özlem Türeci is an excellent scientist and we are delighted that she has agreed to join the team at the University of Mainz," remarked Prof. Georg Krausch, president of the university. "Her activities at HI-TRON will consolidate the close cooperation between the university and the Helmholtz community geared toward developing new cancer treatments."

"The Mainz University Medical Center has a very long tradition in the field of immunology, generating outstanding expertise in the area over a period of five decades through a large number of special research fields and large-scale research projects. Özlem Türeci's outstanding expertise is one of the factors that has made Mainz, as a center of science, and the Rhine-Main area in general an internationally renowned innovation hub for biotechnology," explained Prof. Ulrich Förstermann, Chief Scientific Officer and Dean of the Mainz University Medical Center.

"As a result of the new professorship and the excellent candidate recruited to fill it, researchers will no doubt make great progress in harnessing the potential of immunotherapy to the full and in adapting treatment to the individual patient. We are delighted to be teaming up with HI-TRON and Özlem Türeci to advance this pioneering area of research," emphasized Prof. Norbert Pfeiffer, Chairman of the Board and Medical Director of the Mainz University Medical Center.

Following her medical studies and initial research experience at the University of Saarland in Homburg, Özlem Türeci moved to the Mainz University Medical Center in 2000, where she qualified as a professor in 2002. She initially worked there at the Medical Clinic and Polyclinic III and was head of a working group in a special research area in the field of immunology.

Since qualifying as a professor, she has been lecturing at the Mainz University Medical Center in the field of cancer immunotherapy. On October 1, 2021, Özlem Türeci was appointed Professor of Personalized Immunotherapy at the Mainz University Medical Center in a full professorship post set up jointly by the University of Mainz, the DKFZ, and HI-TRON.

In 2001, she was involved in founding Ganymed Pharmaceuticals AG, of which she was CEO until the company was sold in 2016. Since 2011, she has been co-founder and member of the Board of the Ci3 Cluster for Individualized Immune Intervention in Mainz. Özlem Türeci acquired an international reputation in her role as Chief Medical Officer of BioNTech AG, which she co-founded in 2009.