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Prof. Juerg Schwaller


Prof. Juerg Schwaller
Department of Biomedicine
University Hospital Basel
Hebelstrasse 20
CH-4031 Basel/Switzerland

Phone +41 61 265 35 04/35 17
Fax +41 61 265 23 50
Juerg Schwaller is research group leader at that Department of Biomedicine of the University Hospital Basel. He holds a research professorship sponsored by the Gertrude von Meissner Foundation. The work of the “Childhood leukemia research group” aims to better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying induction and maintenance of acute leukemia a malignant disease that is characterized by accumulation of white blood cells that are blocked in differentiation with aberrant self-renewal capacity. Acute leukemia is the consequence of several functionally cooperating genetic lesions involving regulators of cellular differentiation and signaling mediators like protein kinases controlling proliferation and cell survival. There is strong evidence that similar to normal hematopoiesis, acute leukemia is hierarchically organized and driven by leukemic stem cells that are able to initiate the disease in a secondary host. Self-renewing leukemic stem cells have been proposed to be the “Achilles heel” for successful therapies, as these cells seem to be able to escape effective chemotherapy in their sanctuary niche within the bone marrow. Using a genetic approach, we have recently functionally identified PIM serine/threonine kinases as potential therapeutic targets for acute leukemia. We have characterized several small molecule PIM kinase inhibitors with in vitro anti-leukemic activity. In addition, we found that PIM1 plays an essential role for homing and migration of normal and malignant hematopoietic stem cells by interfering with the CXCL12/CXCR4 chemokine signal transduction axis. To identify and validate new therapeutic principles we are in to process to establish conditional leukemia models that allow searching for molecular and cellular targets of distinct oncogenes during induction, maintenance and potential reversibility of the disease.
Our group has close collaborations with scientists working in Basel (Antoine Peters. FMI) and groups abroad.

More information about our work can be found here: and

Recent publications related to stem cells:

  • Liu T, Jankovic D, Brault L, Ehret S, Baty F, Stavropoulou V, Rossi V, Biondi A. and Schwaller J. (2010). Functional characterization of high levels of meningioma 1 as collaborating oncogene in acute leukemia. Leukemia 24:601-612.
  • Brault L, Menter T, Obermann EC, Knapp S, Thommen S, Schwaller J. and Tzankov A. (2012). PIM kinases are progression markers and emerging therapeutic targets in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Br J Cancer 107:491-500.
  • Méreau H, De Rijck J, Cermáková K, Kutz A, Juge S, Demeulemeester J, Gijsbers R, Christ F, Debyser Z, Schwaller J. (2013). Impairing MLL-fusion gene-mediated transformation by dissecting critical interactions with the lens epithelium-derived growth factor (LEDGF/p75). Leukemia 27:1245-53.
  • Méreau H, Schwaller J. (2013). Trithorax and polycomb cooperation in MLL fusion acute leukemia. Haematologica 98:825-7.
  • Brault L, Rovó A, Decker S, Dierks C, Tzankov A, Schwaller J. (2014). CXCR4-SERINE339 regulates cellular adhesion, retention and mobilization, and is a marker for poor prognosis in acute myeloid leukemia. Leukemia 28:566-76.
  • Sánchez-Aguilera A, Arranz L, Martín-Pérez D, García-García A, Stavropoulou V, Kubovcakova L, Isern J, Martín-Salamanca S, Langa X, Skoda RC, Schwaller J, Méndez-Ferrer S. (2014). Estrogen signaling selectively induces apoptosis of hematopoietic progenitors and myeloid neoplasms without harming steady-state hematopoiesis. Cell Stem Cell 15:791-804.
  • Thanasopoulou A, Tzankov A, Schwaller J. (2014). Potent co-operation between the NUP98-NSD1 fusion and the FLT3-ITD mutation in acute myeloid leukemia induction. Haematologica 99:1465-71.
  • Stavropoulou V, Kaspar S, Brault L, Sanders MA, Juge S, Morettini S, Tzankov A, Iacovino M, Lau IJ, Milne TA, Royo H, Kyba M, Valk PJ, Peters AH, Schwaller J. (2016). MLL-AF9 Expression in Hematopoietic Stem Cells Drives a Highly Invasive AML Expressing EMT-Related Genes Linked to Poor Outcome. Cancer Cell 30:43-58.


  • Brault L, Gasser C, Bracher F, Huber K, Knapp S. and Schwaller J. (2010). PIM serine/threonine kinases in the pathogenesis and therapy of hematologic malignancies and solid cancers. Haematologica 95:1004-1015.
  • Peters AH. and Schwaller J. (2011). Epigenetic mechanisms in acute myeloid leukemia. Prog Drug Res. 67:197-219.
  • Skoda RC. and Schwaller J. (2011). HiJAKing the methylosome in myeloproliferative disorders. Cancer Cell 19:161-3.
  • Schwaller J. (2012). Modeling ETV6-JAK2-induced leukemia: insights from the zebrafish. Haematologica 97:1783-5.