Immune Signals and Cancer

Jürgen Ruland

Jürgen Ruland studied medicine in Giessen and Pittsburgh, graduated in pharmacology and completed postgraduate training in laboratory medicine. After clinical activities at TUM and the University of Freiburg, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute at the University of Toronto, and at the Amgen Research Institute with Tak Mak. In 2003 he became head of the independent junior research group German Cancer Aid at TUM. He served as a professor and director of the newly founded Institute of Molecular Immunology at TUM from 2010 to 2012 and then became Chairman of the Department of Clinical Chemistry.

Jürgen Ruland is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, board bember of the International Max Planck Research School for Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences, and he is actively engaged in the German Cancer Aid committee for promoting young clinicians and scientists.


Research Focus

The research conducted in Jürgen Ruland’s laboratory concentrates on signaling processes in the immune system, both under normal conditions and when deregulated in disease, particularly in cancer. By characterizing genetic alterations found in human lymphomas, which are frequently immune cell malignancies, he identified the molecular mechanisms by which antigen receptors activate the transcription factor NF-ƘB. This work explained how deregulation of these processes drives oncogenic growth. Within these pathways, the group further discovered that the enzymatic activity of a protein called Malt1 is critical for lymphoma cell survival. This initiated the pharmaceutical development of Malt1 inhibitors for lymphoma treatment. In addition, Ruland’s laboratory contributed key findings to our understanding of the innate immune system. The group was able to isolate several molecular switches that integrate immune signals from pattern recognition receptors after microbial pathogen sensing.
These findings led to fundamental insights into mammalian defense and to the discovery of human immune defects that cause high susceptibility to infection. The group continues to investigate the pathophysiology of immune signaling pathways in host protection, inflammation and cancer by engineering and analyzing relevant disease models to further contribute to strategies for immune manipulation and the establishment of new biomarkers.

Personal Profile

Key Awards

  • Member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (2016)
  • Member of the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (2015)
  • Advanced Investigator Award from the European Research Council (2013)
  • Paul Martini Prize from the Paul Martini Foundation (2010)
  • William Warner Award for Cancer Research from the William Warner Foundation (2010)
  • Science Award (Wissenschaftspreis) from the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Internistische Onkologie (2007)
  • Artur-Pappenheim Award from the Deutsche Gesselschaft für Hämatologie und Onkologie (2006)

Selected Publications

  • Roth S, Rottach A, Lotz-Havla AS, Laux V, Muschaweckh A, Gersting SW, Muntau AC, Hopfner KP, Jin L, Vanness K, Petrini JH, Drexler I, Leonhardt H and Ruland J, Rad50-CARD9 interactions link cytosolic DNA sensing to IL-1beta production, Nat Immunol 15:538–545 (2014).
  • Poeck H, Bscheider M, Gross O, Finger K, Hannesschläger K, Schlee M, Rebsamen M, Rothenfusser S, Akira S, Endres S, Peschel C, Hartmann G, Hornung V, Ruland J, Recognition of RNA virus by RIG-I results in activation of CARD9 and infl ammasome signaling for interleukin 1 beta production, Nat Immunol 11:63–69 (2010).
  • 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 infl ammasome for anti-fungal host defence, Nature 459:433–436 (2009).
  • Gross O, Gewies A, Finger K, Schäfer M, Sparwasser T, Peschel C, Förster I, Ruland J, Card9 controls a non-TLR signalling pathway for innate anti-fungal immunity, Nature 442:651–656 (2006).
  • Ruland J, Duncan GS, Elia A, del Barco Barrantes I, Nguyen L, Plyte S, Millar DG, Bouchard D, Wakeham A, Ohashi PS, Mak TW, Bcl10 is a positive regulator of antigen receptor-induced activation of NF-kappaB and neural tube closure, Cell 104:33–42 (2001).