Group Leader

Jan Korbel 

Jan is Head of Data Science and a Group Leader and Senior Scientist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) Heidelberg, Germany. His main research interests is in determinants and consequences of germline and somatic genetic variation, and the relationship thereof with human disease. A particular focus of the Korbel group is on genomic structural variation.

After receiving his PhD in 2005 from Humboldt University of Berlin, he performed his postdoctoral research at Yale University, New Haven, USA. Jan Korbel is an editorial board member for the journal Cell. Additionally, he is on the editorial board of Genome Research, as well as on the Advisory Editorial Board of Molecular Systems Biology. He has been awarded both a Starting Grant as well as a Consolidator Grant by the European Research Council (ERC). Since 2016, he is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). He is also a member of the German National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina (2015). Jan Korbel was recently received the 2018 Pezcoller Foundation–EACR Cancer Researcher Award.

current members

Ahmad Al Alwash, Predoctoral Fellow

After obtaining his M.Sc. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Heidelberg University, Ahmad joined the Korbel group with a Darwin-Trust fellowship. His research interest is applying spatial transcriptomics on primary cancerous tissues to characterize the tumor microenvironment and its underlying genomic heterogeneity.


Marco Raffaele Cosenza, Postdoctoral Fellow

Marco is a postdoctoral fellow working at the intersection between cancer cell biology and genomics. His current research focuses on the characterization of chromosomal instability mechanisms by bridging smart imaging and single-cell omics. Marco did his PhD at the University of Heidelberg and Helmholtz International Graduate School, working at the German Cancer Research Center.


Lucca Derks, Intern

Lucca is studying Cancer, Stem Cells & Developmental Biology at Utrecht University (The Netherlands). In January 2020, Lucca joined the group to complete her final master internship. She will work with Marco on identifying and analysing tumour samples harbouring signs of chromosomal instability.



Busra Erarslan Uysal, Postdoctoral Fellow (bridging)

Busra is performed her doctoral thesis within the MMPU at the Molecular Pediatric Oncology Group of Prof. Andreas Kulozik and Jan Korbel, performing now her research at EMBL and the Heidelberg University Hospital.



Karen Grimes, Predoctoral Fellow

Before joining the Korbel group as a PhD student in February 2017, Karen did her BSc (Hons) in Genetics at the University College in Dublin.




Nina Habermann, Project and Communications Officer

Nina is holding a PhD in cancer prevention from the University of Jena . She joined the Korbel group in 2015 after a postdoc at the Division of Preventive Oncology of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). Now she is supporting Jan Korbel and the group as a project officer.



Patrick Hasenfeld, Research Technician

Before joining the Korbel group Patrick has been working at the National Center of Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg in the group robotics/new technologies on robotics and single-cell sequencing. He has a degree as a biotechnician and a certificate as an assistant for bioinformatics and will now support the Strand-seq research in the Korbel group.


Wolfram Höps, Predoctoral Fellow

Holding a bachelor in Integrated Life Sciences, Wolfram did his Master in Computational Neuroscience at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Berlin and his Master Thesis with Alex Bateman’s group at EMBL-EBI. Being comfortable in the fields of biology – mathematics – informatics, he will strengthen the computational power in the group.


Alex Ing, Postdoctoral Fellow

Hyobin Jeong, Postdoctoral Fellow

Hyobin joined Korbel group in December 2017 as a postdoc in computational biology and is working now in the Strand-seq team. Her research interest is the cell-type dependent impact of human genomic structural variation on the gene regulation and disease. She studied Systems biology approaches of Alzheimer’s disease and cancer for her Ph.D. project in POSTECH, Korea. Hyobin is a fellow of the Humboldt foundation.


Tobias Rausch, Bioinformatician

Tobias joined EMBL in 2009 and he is a shared Bioinformatician with the EMBL Genomics Core Facility. He is working on structural variant calling algorithms (Delly), quality control methods for next-generation sequencing data sets (Alfred), and pipelines to analyze large-scale biological experiments that involve next-generation sequencing.



Berndardo Rodriguez Martin, Postdoctoral Fellow

Berni is a postdoctoral fellow interested into the relationship between structural variation (SV) mosaicism and disease, what includes the development of computational tools to identify and characterize SV from single-cell sequencing data. Berni did his PhD at the Centre for Research in Molecular Medicine and Chronic Diseases (CiMUS), Spain, where he investigated the impact of retrotransposons in the cancer genome as a member of the PCAWG consortium.


Ashley Sanders, Research Scientist

Ashley joined the Korbel group as a postdoctoral fellow in October 2016 and focussing her research on single-cell sequencing. She did her PhD at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Ashley is a fellow of the Humboldt foundation.



Shimin Shuai, Postdoctoral Fellow

Shimin joined the Korbel group in January 2020 as a computational postdoctoral fellow working on spatial transcriptomics of cancer. He holds a PhD from the University of Toronto in Canada and a bachelor’s degree from Zhejiang University in China. His doctoral thesis was titled “Pan-Cancer Analysis of Non-Coding Driver Mutations”.


Mike Smith, Bioinformatician

Mike’s previous work at the CRUK Cambridge Institute focused on understanding the properties of the raw data produced by microarrays and next-generation sequencing. Identifying and interpreting instances where errors can occur in with these technologies is an important step in ensuring correct biological conclusions can be drawn from an experiment. Mike is a shared Bioinformatician between the Korbel group, the Huber group, and the Zeller team and is involved in a number of software projects, primarily rooted in the R programming language.

Maja Starostecka, Predoctoral Fellow

Maja studied Molecular Biosciences with a major in Cancer Biology at Heidelberg University and DKFZ. She is doing her PhD with the Korbel group and will have a focus on Strand-seq.



Catherine Stober Brasseur, Research Technician

Catherine is supporting the wet lab as a Research Technician.



Fruzsina Molnar-Gabor, Visiting Scientist

Fruzsina is a legal scientist with ample expertise in investigating the challenges of different regulatory approaches to new technologies at the regional and international level. She previously participated in several initiatives considering genetics and translational research impacting self-regulatory approaches in life sciences, and has significantly contributed to the development of codes of conduct on whole human genome analysis in Germany and at the international level. Her current research considers data protection in Europe and around the world, data sharing against the backdrop of intellectual property rights, and the legal analysis of cloud computing in life science research. Fruzsina is based at the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Joachim Kunz, Visiting Scienist

Joachim is a physician scientist who is, besides his main job as a senior physician treating children with cancer, coordinating the research on T-lymphoblastic leukemia that is done by the “Molecular Pediatric Oncology” group (Molecular Medicine Partnership Unit).

Past members

Caelan Bell, Master Student (2019-2020)

Ianthe van Belzen, Master Student (2018 – 2019)

Tania Christiansen, Trainee (2019)

Theocharis Efthymiopoulos, Predoctoral Fellow (2015 – 2019)

Sergei Iakhnin, IT & Computational Biology Expert (2014 – 2019) – now: Chief Operating Officer at SOPHiA GENETICS

Jia Le Lim, Trainee (2018)

Gabriel Mello Da Cunha Longo, Trainee (2017 – 2018)

Sarah Mapelli, Visiting Predoctoral Fellow (2018)

Sascha Meiers, Predoctoral Fellow (2014-2018)

Esa Pitkaenen, Postdoctoral Fellow (EIPOD) (2017 – 2019) – now: FIMM-EMBL Group Leader, Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM). Adjunct professor (Docent) at the University of Helsinki.

Benjamin Raeder, Research Technician and Laboratory Officer in Charge (2011-2019) – now:  Lab & Operations Manager at BioMedX Heidelberg

Megan Alexandra Carolyn van Vliet, Master Student (2018)

Sebastian Waszak, Postdoctoral Fellow (2014 – 2019) – now: Group Leader at Centre for Molecular Medicine Norway (NCMM), Nordic EMBL Partnership, University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital