School of Biomedical Sciences

Staff Profiles

Professor Olaf Heidenreich

Professor of Molecular Haematology



Chromosomal changes frequently yield fusion genes, which are exclusively expressed in tumours. They constitute promising targets for new therapeutic approaches, if these oncogenes were essential for tumour maintenance. Our current interest focuses on translocations associated with acute leukaemia: the translocation t(4;11), which is associated with a therapy-resistant infant leukaemia, and the translocation t(8;21), which is one of the most frequently found chromosomal changes in acute myeloid leukaemia. Using RNA interference, we could demonstrate that the corresponding fusion proteins are essential for leukaemic persistence. Current projects include target gene analyses, and the development of in vivo siRNA delivery approaches.

Roles and Responsibilities

Institute GM Chair
Insitute Deputy Safety Officer


Habilitation (postdoctoral lecture qualification), Eberhard Karls University Tuebingen, Germany, 2002

Dr. rer. nat., Georg August University Goettingen, Germany, 1993

Diploma in Biology, Georg August University Goettingen, Germany, 1990

Previous Positions

Since March 2007 Senior Lecturer for Paediatric Molecular Oncology at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University, UK

Lecturer in the Dept. of Molecular Biology at the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, Germany,1997-2007

Research assistant in the Dept. of Molecular Biology at Medical School Hannover, Germany, 1996-1997

Postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, San Diego, California, 1993-1995

Graduate student at the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine in Göttingen, Germany 1990-1993

Diploma student at the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine in Göttingen, Germany, 1989-1990


Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gentherapie
European Haematology Association
Gesellschaft für Biochemie und Molekularbiologie
Gesellschaft für Genetik




Research Interests

Oncogenic fusion genes

Current Work

Role of AML1/MTG8 (RUNX1/RUNX1T1) in leukaemic persistence
Role of MLL/AF4 (MLL/MLLT2) in leukaemic persistence
Systemic delivery of antileukaemic siRNAs

Esteem Indicators

Reviewer for the Leukaemia Research Fund, Children with Leukaemia, Cancer Research UK, Yorkshire Cancer Research.
Reviewer for Blood, Journal of Drug Targeting, Angewandte Chemie, Journal of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, Oligonucleotides, Cancer Letters, Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets, Oncogene, Cancer Investigation.


Primitive Progenitor/Stem Cells in Philadelphia Chromosome-positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia; Leukaemia Research Fund; £140,299, 01 Dec 2008 - 30 Nov 2010

The Role of RUNX1/RUNX1T1 in Therapy Induced Leukaemia (PhD studentship); JGW Patterson Foundation; £88,381; 01 Oct 2008 - 30 Sep 2011

The role of MLL/AF4 in Leukaemic Maintenance; Leukaemia Research Fund; £212,884; 01 Sep 2008 - 31 Aug 2011

AML1/MTG8 - an addictive oncogone? Kay Kendall Leukaemia Fund; £112,028; 01 Jul 2008 - 30 Jun 2010

NECCR PhD Studentship; North of England Childrens Cancer Research Fund; £32,242.33; 01 Mar 2007 - 30 Sep 2010


Eckstein F, Pieken W, Benseler F, Olsen DB, Williams DM, Heidenreich O: Modified ribozymes. 91916858; 23.09.1991

Heidenreich O, Vornlocher H-P, Kreutzer R, Limmer S: Method for inhibiting the expression of a target gene resulting from a chromosome aberration. EP 200300608; 22.01.2003

Heidenreich O, Hadwiger P, Vornlocher H-P: RNAi modulation of MLL-AF4 and uses thereof. US Serial No. 60/635,936; 6.12.2005