Sub-project Genetics /Cancer Research

Aims and tasks

Cancer shows a remarkably high prevalence in western countries and hence represents a large burden to their respective health care systems. Like cardio-vascular and metabolic conditions cancer belongs to the complex genetic diseases, which are caused by the interaction of predisposing gene variants with environmental factors. All these illnesses display differences between the two sexes, which can apply to prevalence, the course and severity of the disease and the age of onset. Differential cancer development in men and women is not only influenced by factors related to the gender role for instance health maintaining behaviour, but also by genetic determinants. The sub-project „Gender-sensitive Concepts in Experimental Genetics and Cancer Research“ has the objective to raise awareness in the scientific community for the categories sex and gender as critical variables in experimental genetics/cancer research which should be considered as a rule.

First of all we identified the organisations, which strongly influence the research process in the field and perform a questionnaire-based baseline survey of gender competence. According to the results guidelines will be generated, which shall refer to the consideration of gender aspects in research projects. Furthermore existing knowledge will be reanalyzed with regard to gender aspects. In a central educational project with the title „Molecular Basis of Gender- Biased Thyroid Carcinoma Development as a Prerequisite For Gender-Adapted Prevention Strategies“ the genetics of the highly elevated thyroid cancer risk in female individuals is investigated. This is an exemplary project for working on gender aspects of the biology of genetically complex diseases in which junior scientists are supposed to take an active part in the context of qualification projects.

A summary of the project can be found here (PDF, in German).