Innate immune sensing in cancer and transplantation|Prof. Dr. Hendrik Poeck

The work in my laboratory is centered on identifying molecular mechanisms of cancer therapy resistance and success as well as regenerative responses during immunotherapeutic treatments including allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT), cellular therapies (chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells or Macrophages), immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) and certain chemotherapies. Specifically, we aim to understand how pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) of the innate immune system can promote or inhibit these responses and to what extent this is impacted by environmental (e.g. microbiome) and cell-derived factors (e.g. extracellular vesicles). By gaining a deeper understanding of the modulation of anti-tumor and regenerative responses, my goal is to develop new combinatorial strategies to improve existing cancer immunotherapies 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), cytokine release syndrome (CRS) or ICB–mediated autoinflammation).

About the Principal Investigator

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 around 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 Tumor Immunology at the University Hospital Regensburg.

Key Awards

  • Since 2020 Scientific Committee Member for Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapies of the American Society of Hematology (ASH): Selection of potential topics and speakers for the ASH annual meeting, identify future Members of the Committee and ASH Honorific Awards
  • 2018 Admission into the EMBO Young Investigator Programme (supports the best young researchers in the life sciences in Europe and beyond).
  • 2017 Mechthild-Harf Research grant by 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
  • 2009 Vincenz-Czerny Research Award by the German society for Hematology and Oncology (DGHO)
  • 2006 Kulturpreis Bayern 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. Poeck H, Wintges A, Dahl S, Bassermann F, Haas T, Heidegger S.. Tumor cell-intrinsic RIG-I signaling governs synergistic effects of immunogenic cancer therapies and checkpoint inhibitors. Eur J Immunol., 2021, in press, DOI: 10.1002/eji.202049158
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. Fischer JC*, Otten V*, Drees C, Schmickl M, Heidegger S, Beyaert G, van Loo G, Li XC, Peschel C, Schmidt-Supprian M, Haas T, Spoerl S*, Poeck H*. NF-κB regulator A20 modulates thymic regulatory T cell development; J Immunol. 2017 Oct 1;199(7):2356-2365.
  7. 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).
  8. Fischer JC, Wintges A, Haas T, Poeck H. Assessment of mucosal integrity by quantifying neutrophil granulocyte influx in murine models of acute intestinal injury; Cell Immunol. 2017 Apr 11. pii: S0008-8749(17)30050-3
  9. 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
  10. 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.
  11. 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
  12. 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.
  13. 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

*These authors contributed equally

Research Funding of ongoing projects

  • DFG (Collaborative Research Center (CRC 1371 (2019-2023, PI, P05 “Role of innate immune signals and microbiota on intestinal epithelial regeneration in graft-versus host disease”);
  • DFG (Collaborative Research Center (CRC 1335 (2018-2022, PI, P14 “Mechanisms of immune evasion caused by aberrant innate nucleic acid receptor signaling in tumor cells and their tumor microenvironment);
  • DFG (Collaborative Research Center (CRC TRR 221 (2020-2022, Associated member, PI “Targeting cGAS-STING in allo-HSCT”)
  • DKMS “PROTECTOR” (2018-2021, PI)
  • Melanoma Research Alliance (2019-2022, PI, “Microbial metabolites in immunotherapy of malignant melanoma”, joint Project with PD Dr. Simon Heidegger),
  • EMBO Young Investigator Program (2018-2023, PI, “Role of cytosolic nucleic acid receptors in cancer immunotherapy”; travel-, meeting-, lab retreat-, sequencing, leadership and PhD course support)
  • Else Kröner-Research College Regensburg – Interdisciplinary Translational Immuno-Oncology (2020-2023; PI, “Role of innate immune signaling in epithelial regeneration”)
  • Bavarian State Ministry of Science and Art for the promotion of Corona research projects (PI, “Microbiome and COVID-19”, 2020-2021)


Prof. Dr. Hendrik Poeck
Universitätsklinikum Regensburg
Klinik und Poliklinik für Innere Medizin III (Hämatologie und Onkologie)
Franz-Josef-Strauß-Allee 11
93053 Regensburg
Phone: +49 941 944-5542 (Office)
Fax: +49 941 944-5543
E-Mail: Hendrik.Poeck(at)