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The Department of Thoracic Surgery, MedUni Vienna is at the forefront of small cell lung cancer research

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(Vienna, 25 March 2024) The Translational Thoracic Oncology Lab (head: Balazs Döme; deputy head: Karin Schelch) at the Department of Thoracic Surgery at the Medical University of Vienna has successfully secured a prestigious grant from the EU's HORIZON-Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions program. The BIOSMALL project is a staff exchange program supporting international and interdisciplinary mobility for scientists in the field of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) research. The consortium of researchers from Austria, Sweden, Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands has been awarded € 897.000 funding to continue their internationally recognized works on the molecular subclassification of SCLC. Balazs Döme is the consortium coordinator.

The Translational Thoracic Research Laboratory (headed by Balazs Hegedüs) of the Department of Thoracic Surgery of the University Medicine Essen - Ruhrlandklinik is an integral part of the BIOSMALL project led by the MedUni Wien. Hegedüs (a former Assistant Professor of the MedUni Wien) has strong working collaborations with Clemens Aigner (Head of the Department of Thoracic Surgery, MedUni Vienna) and Balazs Döme at the MedUni Vienna, Comprehensive Cancer Center Vienna. A very recent example for these collaborative works is the finding that first-line chemotherapy induces a wide genomic heterogeneity in the originally homogenous SCLC tumors. In this study, which is published in the journal Nature in March (doi:, several research groups joined forces to analyze a large SCLC patient cohort at diagnosis and following therapy in order to understand the mechanisms underlying the transition from the initial sensitivity to rapid relapse in SCLC. The researchers identified molecular alterations that emerge during the relapse of the tumor. Their findings might pave the way to more efficient therapies against this devastating disease.

Cutting-edge small cell lung cancer research

Another pioneering international SCLC research project led by scientists Zsolt Megyesfalvi, Karin Schelch and Balazs Döme from the Dept. of Thoracic Surgery, MedUni Vienna involves a joint rapid autopsy research program of the National Koranyi Institute of Pulmonology (Hungary), the Lund University (Sweden), the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (USA) and the MedUni Vienna to explore intra- and inter tumor heterogeneity and clonal dynamics of SCLC (

Based on their significant contribution to cutting-edge SCLC research, scientists from the Department of Thoracic Surgery, MedUni Vienna have been invited to provide updates on SCLC biology, diagnosis and therapy. These reviews have recently been published in the prestigious journals Molecular Cancer ( and CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians (

MedUni Vienna coordinates young researchers

MedUni Vienna’s global contribution to SCLC research is further emphasized by its role as the EU coordinator of the International Association of Small Cell Lung Cancer Young Investigators (IASCLC YI) group. The IASCLC YI group, which is co-chaired by Dr. Zsolt Megyesfalvi from the Dept. of Thoracic Surgery at MedUni Vienna, has an overarching goal of improving the recruitment and retention of talented individuals for academic careers in SCLC research and of fostering inter-institutional mentorship of trainees. Additionally, the group aims to encourage collaboration among young scientists to substantially accelerate progress in the fight against this deadly disease.

Publikation: Nature
Evolutionary trajectories of small cell lung cancer under therapy

George, J., Maas, L., Abedpour, N. et al. Evolutionary trajectories of small cell lung cancer under therapy. Nature (2024).