​The bone marrow of a healthy adult produces more than new blood cells every day to replace those lost by wear and tear. Half of these become red blood corpuscles responsible for transporting oxygen around the body, while the others are white cells with a range of immune functions. Because the most common white cells have a life span of just hours to days, while the red corpuscles remain in the bloodstream for around 3 months, normal blood has around 1000x more red than white cells.

This changes in leukemia (Greek “white blood”), in which a disturbance in the balance of cell production in the marrow leads to an abnormal accumulation of white cells. In order to devise new and better treatments, we need to understand how normal blood cell production (hematopoiesis) is controlled and how these controls become overridden in leukemia and related diseases.

More than half a century of research in this area has revealed the ground plan of hematopoiesis, with a single type of multi-potential hematopoietic stem cell giving rise to 8 major blood cell types. The stem cells themselves spend most of their time in a secluded niche in the bone marrow, dividing only rarely to produce daughter cells that move out of the niche and undergo multiple rounds of division. As these cell divide, they gradually take on the characteristics of a particular cell type in a process termed differentiation.

Cell division and differentiation are influenced by signals in the form of growth factors and hormones delivered by the blood stream or by local bone marrow “stromal” cells. Each signal is recognized by a specific receptor on or in the hematopoietic cell. Binding of the signal to the receptor triggers a response known as signal transduction that can affect survival, migration, proliferation and differentiation by changing the pattern of gene expression. Mutations in the genes involved disrupt the normal control and can lead to diseases such as leukemia.

Research Focus

The ultimate aim of all our research is to provide new knowledge and new tools that improve the lives of patients. This means translating the results of laboratory research into clinical applications in a process that makes full use of the close collaboration between our clinical and laboratory scientists. Our research projects are focused on key aspects of cell regulation most relevant to improved diagnostics and the development of novel therapies

  • Non-coding RNAs / Epigenetics
  • Metabolism
  • Inflammation
  • Niche

In addition to our work on myeloid leukemias, the appointment of Professor Uwe Platzbecker to the directorship in 2018 brings a fresh impulse with his internationally renowned expertise and achievements in the field of myelodysplasia, a condition in which the balance of white cell production is disturbed by changes in bone marrow niche.

The myelodysplasias are now recognized to involve dysregulated interaction between developing blood cells and the stromal cells that support them. Both cell types accumulate changes in a spiral of events leading ultimately to imbalanced blood cell production and an associated risk of developing leukemia. Studies of MDS therefore provide a new window onto cell interactions that are relevant to normal hematopoiesis, to MDS itself and to leukemia. We look forward to a high degree of synergy between these research areas.​

Biomaterial collection

The José Carreras Research Laboratory operates, organizes and administrates the hematological biomaterial collection at the University Hospital Leipzig, a quality-controlled collection of biomaterial samples from patients enrolled on clinical trials and registries, who consented to biomaterial storage for translational hematological research. Each translational research study is based on an individual approval by the responsible independent ethics committee. 

In our laboratory, the patient samples are processed under sterile conditions. Prepared biomaterials such as serum, plasma, cryopreserved mononuclear cells, RNA and DNA are long-term stored in designated and temperature-monitored storage spaces. 

This biomaterial collection establishes a centralized resource from which material can be used for local and interregional translational research projects and clinical analyses according to the consent given by patients and the regulations of each clinical trial protocol. 

Based on the stored biomaterials, we aim to further elucidate the mode of action of promising new therapeutic agents that have the potential to intervene with inflammatory processes, which are involved in hematological disease development and progression. Moreover, revealing possible predictors of response will help to support the development of more personalized therapeutic options. ​


Phone:  0314 - 97 11574

Liebigstr. 20 (Haus 4) und 22 (Haus 7), Johannisallee 32A (Haus 9)
04103 Leipzig
0341 - 97 13050
Ambulanz (Haus 9):
0341 - 97 13081
0341 - 97 13059