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Stefanie Avril, MD

Assistant Professor of Pathology, CWRU


Dr. Stefanie Avril (Sassen) started her career in academic pathology in 2004 at the Department of Pathology, Technical University Munich, Germany. Her research is focused on breast cancer and gynecologic oncology, with a specific interest in prediction of treatment response and the tumor immune microenvironment.


Dr. Avril received her medical degree from the Technical University Munich, Germany following training at the University of Caen, France, Cornell Medical School, New York, Harvard Medical School, Boston, and University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland. Her scientific career includes several studies on prediction of treatment response in ovarian and breast cancer using FDG-PET molecular imaging. Subsequent studies assessed histopathological parameters of treatment response and recurrence risk in ovarian cancers and borderline tumors. During a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Cambridge, UK, she investigated changes in miRNA expression during breast development and their correlation with breast cancer. Subsequent studies assessed the intratumoral heterogeneity of miRNA and protein expression in breast and ovarian cancer and its implications for assessment of prognostic and predictive biomarkers. More recently, Dr. Avril started to investigate the CXCR3-chemokine system, its association with tumor infiltrating lymphocytes and prognostic value in breast and ovarian cancer. Her current research funded by the NIH CTSC KL2 clinical research scholarship aims to investigate novel immunotherapeutic approaches to improve treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer (collaboration with Drs. Alex Huang, Ruth Keri).



2004              MD, School of Medicine Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany

2006              Doctor of Medicine ‘Dr. med.’

                      School of Medicine Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany

2004-13         Residency in Anatomic Pathology, Research Track

                      Department of Pathology, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany

2006-08         Research Fellow, Cambridge Research Institute and Department of Oncology, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

2014              German Board of Pathology – Anatomic Pathology

1-4/2014        Attending in Pathology, Department of Pathology, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany

2015              Habilitation, ‘Dr. med. habil.’ (Status of academic lecturer and full faculty member)

                      School of Medicine Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany

5/2014-          Assistant Professor of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University,

                      University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio



1. N. Avril, S. Sassen, B. Schmalfeldt, J. Naehrig, S. Rutke, W.A. Weber, M. Werner, H. Graeff, M. Schwaiger, and W. Kuhn, Prediction of Response to Chemotherapy by Sequential F-18 Fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography in Patients with Advanced Stage Ovarian Cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2005, 23:7445-53. PMID: 16157939

2. S. Sassen, F. Fend, and N. Avril, Histopathologic and Metabolic Criteria for Assessment of Treatment Response in Breast Cancer. Review, PET Clinics of North America, 2006, 1.

3. C. Schreiber, S. Sassen, M. Kostolny, J. Hörer, J. Cleuziou, K. Holper, F. Fend, A. Eicken, and R. Lange, Early graft failure of small-sized porcine-valve conduits in reconstruction of the right ventricular outflow tract. Annals of Thoracic Surgery, 2006, 82:179-85. PMID: 16798210

4. J. Cleuziou, N. Mayr, C. Schreiber, J. Hörer, S. Sassen, H. Kaemmerer, R. Lange, Giant aortic aneurysm 18 years after repair of double-outlet right ventricle with pulmonary stenosis. Annals of Thoracic Surgery, 2006, 82:e31-2. PMID: 17062204

5. S. Sassen, B. Schmalfeldt, N. Avril, W. Kuhn, H. Höfler, F. Fend, and J. Nährig, Histopathological assessment of tumor regression following neoadjuvant chemotherapy in advanced stage ovarian cancer. Human Pathology, 2007, 38:926-34. PMID: 17397905

6. K. Blechschmidt, S. Sassen, B. Schmalfeldt, T. Schuster, H. Höfler, K.-F. Becker, The E-cadherin repressor Snail is associated with lower overall survival of ovarian cancer patients. British Journal of Cancer, 2007, 98:489-95. PMID: 18026186

7. S. Sassen, E.A. Miska, C. Caldas, MicroRNA: Implications for Cancer. Review, Virchows Archive, 2008, 452:1-10. PMID: 18040713

8. J. Schwarz-Dose, M. Untch, R.Tiling, S. Sassen, S. Mahner, S. Kahlert, N.Harbeck, A. Lebeau, W. Brenner, M. Schwaiger, F. Jaenicke, N. Avril, Monitoring primary systemic therapy of large and locally advanced breast cancer by using sequential FDG-PET imaging. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2009, 27:535-541. PMID: 19075273

9. N. Avril, S. Sassen, R. Roylance, Response to Therapy in Breast Cancer. Review, Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 2009, 50:1-9. PMID: 19380410

10. S. Avril-Sassen, L.D. Goldstein, J. Stingl, C. Blenkiron, J. Le Quesne, I. Spiteri, K. Karagavriilidou, C.J. Watson, S. Tavaré, E.A. Miska, C. Caldas, Characterisation of microRNA expression in post-natal mouse mammary gland development. BMC Genomics, 2009, 10:548. PMID: 19930549

11. J. Dose-Schwarz, R. Tiling, S. Avril-Sassen, S. Mahner, A. Lebeau, C. Weber, M. Schwaiger, F. Jaenicke, M. Untch, N. Avril, Assessment of residual tumor by FDG-PET, conventional imaging and clinical examination following primary chemotherapy of large and locally advanced breast cancer. British Journal of Cancer, 2010, 102:35-41. PMID: 19920815

12. S. Hipp, D. Berg, B. Ergin, T. Schuster, A. Hapfelmeier, A. Walch, S. Avril, B. Schmalfeldt, H. Höfler, K.F. Becker, Interaction of Snail and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase results in shorter overall survival of ovarian cancer patients. Virchows Archiv, 2010, 457:705-13. PMID: 20957493

13. E. Nowosinska, S. Avril, I. Murray, T. Szyszko, N. Avril, FDG-PET/CT as a molecular biomarker in ovarian cancer. Review, Cancer Biomarkers, 2010, 8:167-75. PMID: 22045351

14. H. Bronger, S. Kraeft, U. Schwarz-Boeger, C. Cerny, A. Stöckel, S. Avril, M. Kiechle, M. Schmitt, Modulation of CXCR3 ligand secretion by prostaglandin E2 and cyclooxygenase inhibitors in human breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research, 2012, 14:R30 [Epub ahead of print], PMID: 22333315

15. M. Raychaudhuri, T. Schuster, T. Buchner, K. Malinowsky, H. Bronger, U. Schwarz-Boeger, H. Höfler, S. Avril, Intratumoral heterogeneity of miRNA expression in breast cancer. The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, 2012, 14(4). PMID: 22704963

16. K. Malinowsky, M. Raychaudhuri, T. Buchner, S. Thulke, C. Wolff, H. Höfler, K.-F. Becker, S. Avril, Common protein biomarkers assessed by reverse phase protein arrays show considerable intratumoral heterogeneity in breast cancer tissues. PLoS One, 2012, 7(7): e40285. PMID: 22792263

17. S. Avril, E. Hahn, K. Specht, S. Hauptmann, C. Höss, M. Kiechle, H. Höfler, B. Schmalfeldt, Histopathologic features of ovarian borderline tumors are not predictive of clinical outcome. Gynecologic Oncology, 2012, 127:516-24. PMID: 23000388

18. M. Shehata, A. Teschendorff, G. Sharp, N. Novcic, A. Russell, S. Avril, M. Prater, P. Eirew, C. Caldas, C.J. Watson, J. Stingl, Phenotypic and functional characterization of the luminal cell hierarchy of the mammary gland. Breast Cancer Res. 2012, 14(5):R134 [Epub ahead of print], PMID: 23088371

19. G. Mittermeyer, K. Malinowsky, C. Beese, H. Höfler, B. Schmalfeldt, K.-F. Becker, S. Avril, Variation in cell signaling protein expression may introduce sampling bias in primary epithelial ovarian cancer, PlosOne, 2013, 8(10):e77825. PMID: 24204986

20. E. Gross, C. Meul, S. Raab, C. Propping, S. Avril, M. Aubele, A. Gkazepis, T. Schuster, N. Grebenchtchikov, M. Schmitt, M. Kiechle, J. Meijer, R. Vijzelaar, A. Meindl, A.B.P. van Kuilenburg, Somatic copy number changes in DPYD are associated with lower risk of recurrence in triple negative breast cancers, British Journal of Cancer, 2013, 109(9):2347-55. PMID: 24104963.

21. S. Avril, miRNA expression in breast development and breast cancer. Review, Pathologe, 2013, 34 Suppl 2:195-200. PMID:24196612.

22. S. Sizemore, G. Sizemore, C. Booth, C. Thompson, P. Silverman, G. Bebek, F. Abdul-Karim, S. Avril, R. Keri, Hypomethylation of the MMP7 Promoter and Increased Expression of MMP7 Distinguishes the Basal-like Breast Cancer Subtype from Other Triple Negative Tumors, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 2014, 146(1):25-40. PMID: 24847890

23. S. Hauptmann, A. du Bois, I. Meinhold-Herlein, J. Pfisterer, S. Avril, Histological grading of epithelial ovarian cancer: Review and Recommendation. Review, Pathologe, 2014, 35(5):497-503. PMID: 25069848

24. Dorand RD, Nthale J, Myers JT, Barkauskas DS, Avril S, Chirieleison SM, Pareek TK, Abbott DW, Stearns DS, Letterio JJ, Huang AY^, Petrosiute AY^ Cdk5 disruption attenuates tumor PD-L1 expression and promotes anti-tumor immunity. Science 2016. 353(6297): 399-403. doi:10.1126/science.aae0477. (^co-senior authors)

Funding History:

2017-2018    Case Comprehensive Cancer Center Cancer Genomics Research Pilot Award, "Identifying the genomic and immunophenotypic underpinnings of racial disparities in endometrial cancers' (PI; $50,000)

2017-2018    Case Comprehensive Cancer Center Hematopoiesis & Immune Cancer Biology Pilot Award, "Enhancing anti-PD-L1 checkpoing blockade efficacy against PD-L1 negative tumors (Co-I; $20,000)

2015-2019    NIH CTSC KL2 clinical research scholarship award (role: scholar; PI Davis)

2014-2017    German Research Foundation (Co-PI; $ 290,000 S. Avril; $ 350,000 J. Dorn)
**This project is based in Munich, Germany, and led by J. Dorn after my departure

2014-2016    German Research Foundation (Co-I; $ 240,000)

2014-2016     Wilhelm-Sander Foundation, Germany (Co-PI; $ 150,000 S. Avril; $ 200,000 H. Bronger)
**This project is based in Munich, Germany, and led by H. Bronger after my departure

2014              Walter Schulz Foundation, Germany (PI, $ 30,000)

2013-2014     Technische Universität München, Board for clinical research (Co-I; $ 65,000)

2010-2013     German Research Foundation (PI; $ 280,000)

2006-2008     Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, German Research Foundation (PI)

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