Immune Regulation in Cancer and Stem Cell Transplantation

Hendrik Poeck

Hendrik Poeck studied Medicine at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and finished his doctoral thesis (2006, grade: “summa cum laude”) on the “the influence of plasmacytoid dendritic cells and immunostimulatory DNA on primary human B cells” in the former research group of Prof. Gunther Hartmann in the Division of Clinical Pharmacology (head: Prof. Dr. Stefan Endres). He then worked as a postdoc in the research groups of Prof. Hartmann (now University Hospital Bonn) and Prof. Jürgen Ruland (Klinikum Rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München (TUM)) which centered on molecular mechanisms of antitumor responses and inflammation. In 2012, he successfully completed his postdoctoral thesis (habilitation). In 2013, and as a scholar of the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation, he worked as a visiting scientist in the laboratory of Prof. Marcel van den Brink at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York (USA). There, he focused on the role of innate immunity and the microbiome during graft-vs. host disease (GVHD) and graft-vs. tumor (GVT) responses following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT). In 2015, he moved back to TUM and - supported by a research grant of the European Hematology Association (EHA)- started his own research group, which focuses on molecular mechanisms of cancer therapy resistance and success as well as regenerative responses in the intestinal epithelium during immunotherapeutic treatment approaches. In 2017, he completed his clinical specialization in Internal Medicine, Hematology and Oncology at TUM and since 2018 works as senior physician in adult stem cell transplantation and immunotherapy. In February 2020, he became appointed as Associate Professor of Stem Cell Transplantation and Tumorimmunology at the University Hospital Regensburg.

Research Focus

The work in my laboratory is centered on identifying molecular mechanisms of cancer therapy resistance and success as well as regenerative responses in the intestinal epithelium during immunotherapeutic treatments including immune checkpoint blockade (ICB), certain chemotherapies, allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) and novel cellular therapies (chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T or NK cells). Specifically, we aim to understand how innate immune sensors can promote or inhibit these responses and to what extent this is impacted by environmental (e.g. microbiome) and tumor-derived factors (e.g. extracellular vesicles). By gaining a deeper understanding of the modulation of antitumor and regenerative responses, we hope to develop new combinatorial strategies to improve existing cancer immunotherapies including ICB and allo-HSCT to address the unsolved clinical problem of great inter-individual response variability while ameliorating unwanted immune-mediated inflammatory tissue damage (such as graft-versus host disease (GVHD) following allo-HSCT or ICB mediated autoinflammation).

Key Awards

  • 2019 - Elected ASH Scientific Committee Member for Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapies
  • 2018 - Admission into the EMBO Young Investigator Programme (supports some of the best young researchers in the life sciences in Europe and beyond).
  • 2017 - DKMS Mechthild-Harf Research grant DKMS
  • 2016 - European Hematology Association (EHA) Research Grant
  • 2013 - Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers (Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation)
  • 2010 - Walther-Schulz research award 2010
  • 2009 - Vincenz-Czerny research award 2009 by the German society for Hematology and Oncology
  • 2006 - Kulturpreis Bayern 2006 by Bavarian State Ministry of Sciences, Research and the Arts and E.ON Bayern AG (for the best doctoral thesis of the LMU)
  • 2004 - Harvard-Scholarship by the LMU-HMI-Alliance
  • 2003/2005 - Scholarship for gifted students of the Bayer Science and education Foundation
  • 2003 - Carl-Duisberg Scholarship

Selected Publications

  • 1.    Heidegger S*#, Wintges A *, Stritzke F, Bek S, Steiger K, Koenig PA, Göttert S, Engleitner T, Öllinger R, Nedelko T, Fischer JC, Makarov V, Winter C, Rad R, van den Brink MRM, Ruland J, Bassermann F, Chan TA, Haas T*, Poeck H*#. RIG-I activation is critical for responsiveness to checkpoint blockade. Sci Immunol., 2019 Sep 13;4(39). *These authors contributed equally; #equally corresponding author
  • 2.    Fischer JC, Bscheider M, Göttert S, Thiele Orberg E, Combs SE, Bassermann F, Heidegger S, Haas T, Poeck H. Type I interferon signaling before hematopoietic stem cell transplantation lowers donor T cell activation via reduced allogenicity of recipient cells. Sci Rep. 2019 Oct 18;9(1):14955.
  • 3.    Bek S, Stritzke F, Wintges A, Nedelko T, Böhmer D.F.R, Fischer JC, Haas T, Poeck H*# & Simon Heidegger*#. Targeting intrinsic RIG-I signaling turns melanoma cells into type I interferon-releasing cellular antitumor vaccines. (*these authors contributed equally). Oncoimmunology [2162-4011] Bek, Sarah J.:2019 S.:1 -9. *These authors contributed equally; #equally corresponding author
  • 4.    Heidegger S*#, Kreppel D*, Bscheider M, Stritzke F, Nedelko T, Wintges A, Bek S,Fischer JC, Graalman T, Kalinke U, Bassermann F, Haas T*, Poeck H*#. RIG-I activating immunostimulatory RNA boosts the efficacy of anticancer vaccines and synergizes with checkpoint blockade. EBioMedicine. 2019 Mar6. pii: S2352-3964(19)30135-5. *These authors contributed equally; #equally corresponding author
  • 5.    Fischer JC*, M Bscheider*, Gabriel Eisenkolb*, Lin CC, 
Wintges A, Otten V, Lindemans CA, Heidegger S, Rudelius M, Monette S, Porosnicu Rodriguez K, Calafiore M, Liebermann S, Liu C, Lienenklaus S, Weiss S, Kalinke U, Ruland J, Peschel C, Shono Y, Docampo M, Velardi E, Jenq R, Hanash A, Dudakov JA, Haas T, van den Brink MR *# and Poeck H*#. RIG-I/MAVS and STING signaling promote epithelial integrity during irradiation and immune-medited tissue injury; Sci Transl Med. 2017 Apr 19;9(386). *These authors contributed equally; #equally corresponding author
  • 6.    Jankovic D, Ganesan J, Bscheider M, Stickel N, Weber FC, Guarda G, Follo M, Pfeifer D, Tardivel A, Ludigs K, Bouazzaoui A, Kerl K, Fischer JC, Haas T, Schmitt-Gräff A, Manoharan A, Müller L, Finke J, Martin SF, Gorka O, Peschel C, Ruland J, Idzko M, Duyster J, Holler E, French LE, Poeck H*#, Contassot E*#, Zeiser R*#.The Nlrp3 inflammasome regulates acute graft-versus-host disease. J Exp Med. 2013 Sep 23;210(10):1899-910. *These authors contributed equally; #equally corresponding authors.
  • 7.    Dann A*, Poeck H*, Maihofer C, Endres S, Kalinke U, Knobeloch KP, Akira S, Waisman A, Hartmann G and Prinz M. Cytosolic RIG-I-like helicases act as negative regulators of sterile inflammation in the CNS. Nat Neurosci 2011 Dec 4;15(1):98-106. doi: 10.1038/nn.2964. *These authors contributed equally
  • 8.    Poeck H*, Bscheider M*, Gross O*, Roth S, Finger K, Hannesschläger N, Schlee M, Rebsamen M, Rothenfusser S, Barchet W, Akira S, Inoue S, Endres S, Peschel C, Hartmann G*, Hornung V* and Ruland J* . Recognition of RNA virus by RIG-I results in activation of CARD9 and inflammasome signaling for interleukin 1beta production. Nat Immunol. 2010 Jan;11(1):63-9. *These authors contributed equally
  • 9.    Besch R*, Poeck H*, Hohenauer T, Senft D, Häcker G, Berking C, Hornung V, Endres S, Ruzicka T, Rothenfusser S, Hartmann G. Proapoptotic signalling by RIG-I and MDA-5 results in type I interferon independent apoptosis in melanoma. J Clin Invest. 2009, Aug; 119(8):2399-411. *These authors contributed equally
  • 10.  Gross O*, Poeck H*, Bscheider M, Dostert C, Hannesschläger N, Endres S, Hartmann G, Tardivel A, Schweighoffer E, Tybulewicz V, Mocsai A, Tschopp J, Ruland J. Syk kinase signalling couples to the Nlrp3 inflammasome for anti-fungal host defence, Nature. 2009 May 21;459(7245):433-6. *These authors contributed equally
  • 11.  Poeck H*, Besch R*, Maihoefer C, Renn M, Tormo D, Morskaya S, Kirschnek S, Gaffal E, Landsberg J, Hellmuth J, Schmidt A, Anz D, Bscheider M, Schwerd T, Berking C, Bourquin C, Kalinke U, Kremmer E, Kato H, Akira S, Meyers R, Häcker G, Neuenhahn M, Busch D, Ruland J, Rothenfusser S, Prinz M, Hornung V, Endres S, Tüting T & Hartmann G. 5’-triphosphate siRNA: turning gene-silencing and RIG-I activation against melanoma. Nat Med. 2008 Nov;14 (11):1256-63. *These authors contributed equally
  • 12.  Poeck H, Wagner M, Battiany J, Rothenfusser S, Wellisch D, Hornung V, Jahrsdorfer B, Giese T, Endres S, Hartmann G. Plasmacytoid dendritic cells, antigen, and CpG-C license human B cells for plasma cell differentiation and immunoglobulin production in the absence of T-cell help. Blood 2004; 103(8):3058-64 (publication arising from MD thesis)

The Team