Short Biography

Photo of the Dr. J. Cicenas

Dr. J. Cicenas

I was born 17th of December, 1974 in Klaipeda, Lithuania. I left this tow for my studies at the age of 18. During my childhood I’d spent a lot of my time not only in Klaipeda, but also in Ravai village near Ignalina. I guess that is why I consider myself both the native of Klaipeda and Ignalina.

All my school years I had been studying at School #19 at the same class. Since the age of 7 I have always been interested in nature, and wanted to become scientist biologist. I had participated in several biology Olympiads for school kids and won 4th place in one of them. I was also attending ornithology school and was a member of several Lithuanian bird watch organizations.

In 1993 I started biology studies at Vilnius University, The Faculty of Natural Sciences, however due to some personal issues changed into Vilnius Pedagogical University after one semester. There I got my BSc in natural sciences degree in 1997 and MSc in natural sciences degree in 1999. I was performing my Master thesis research at the Institute of Biochemistry on acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In August of 1999 I started my PhD studies at the Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University in North Carolina, USA. I was working on the role of protein kinase C (PKC) in prostate cancer. However, due to some family issues, I had to come back to Europe.

After some short time spent in Munich, Germany, I continued my PhD studies at the University of Basel, where I was working in the group of Prof. Urs Eppenberger on the role of protein phosphorylation in breast cancer.

In 2004 I got a PhD in biochemistry degree and since 2005 I have been working as a postdoctoral scientist at the Universities of Bern, Basel, Lausanne and Fribourg. In 2011 I joined the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics to work as annotator - kinase expert.


1982 - 1993: Klaipeda School No. 19.

1993-1997 and 1997-1999: Faculty of Natural Sciences,Vilnius Pedagogical University (biology).

1997: BSc degree in natural sciences.

1999: MSc degree in natural sciences.

1994-1996: Private College "Lingua et Commercium" (Economics, Marketing, Informatics, German and English).

1999-2000: Dept. Anatomy and Cell Biology, East Carolina University School of Medicine.

2002-2004: University of Basel.

2004: PhD degree in biochemistry.

Bachelor's thesis: „Influence of cytokines on the proliferation and differentiation of bovine blood lymphocytes“.

Master's thesis: „Influence of protein kinases and nucleotide analogues on the differentiation and apoptosis of the HL-60 cell line“.

PhD thesis: „ErbB2 Signaling in Breast Cancer: the role of ErbB, Akt and ShcA phosphorylation“.

Work experience

1996-1997: Institute of Immunology, Lithuania (undergraduate student).

1997-1999: Institute of Biochemistry, Lithuania (laboratory assistant).

1999-2000: Dept. Anatomy and Cell Biology, East Carolina University School of Medicine, Greenville, NC, USA (PhD student).

2000-2001: GSF Research Center, Munich, Germany (PhD student).

2002-2004: Molekulare Tumorbiologie, Department Forshung, Kantonspital Basel and Stiftung Tumorbank Basel (PhD student).

2005-2007: Division of Clinical Immunology, Departement of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, University of Bern (postdoc).

2008: Evolutionary Biology, Zoological Institute, University of Basel (postdoc).

2009-2010: Unit of Gene Therapy & Stem Cell Biology, Hõpital Jules-Gonin, Lausanne (postdoc)

2010-2011: Laboratory for Molecular Medicine and Hematology, Department of, Clinical Research, Inselspital Bern (postodc)

Since 2011: Swiss institute of Bioinformatics, annotator-kinase expert.

Reviewed papers for following journals

International Journal of Cancer

British Journal of Cancer

Virchows Archives

Rare Tumors

Oral oncology

Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targe

Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Patents

Member of the Editorial Board, Journal „Cancers“

Member of the Editorial Board, Journal „Cancer Reports“

Associate Editor, Journal „Journal of Cancer Research“

Research interests

Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women in both developing and developed areas. One in ten of all new cancers diagnosed worldwide each year is breast cancer. It is also the main cause of death from cancer among women worldwide. However, in developed countries, more than 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are still alive 5 years after their diagnosis, because of the existence of screening programs that detect early invasive cancers, some of which would otherwise have been diagnosed later or not at all. Clinical outcome is affected by prognostic predictive factors. Prognostic factors are associated with either the metastatic or the growth potential of the primary tumor, while predictive factors are associated with the relative sensitivity and/or resistance to specific therapies. Routinely available prognostic indicators include tumor size, type, and grade, axillary lymph node status, estrogen and progesterone receptor status. Estrogen receptor status and progesterone receptor status also serve as predictive factors for expected response to hormone therapy. Many other molecular markers are being investigated for their clinical usefulness. One of the major molecular prognostic and predictive markers in breast cancer is the amplification status of the proto-oncogene ErbB2 (HER-2/ neu). I am interested in the role of ErbB2 overexpression and phoshorylation in breast cancer as well as the phosphorylation of other ErbB family members (EGFR, ErbB3 and ErbB4). I am also interested the phosphorylation of signaling molecules functioning downstream of ErbB2, such as Akt, PI3 kinases, SchA, Erk. mTOR, etc.

Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men, accounting for 30% of all cancers, and is second leading cause of cancer deaths in men after lung cancer. Current methods of diagnosis including screening for high serum levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and pathological grading of prostate biopsies cannot precisely distinguish between clinically aggressive and clinically indolent forms of prostate cancer. Therefore, far too many men are treated for the disease. Thus, there is an urgent need to identify biomarkers that distinguish the clinically aggressive forms of the tumor from the clinically indolent ones. I am interested in the role of signaling molecules, such as ErbB2, Akt, PKC and MAP kinases in prostate cancer. Another interest is the possibility of using the expression and/or phosphorylation pattern of signaling molecules in the prognosis and/or prediction of prostate cancer.

Protein kinases Protein kinases are a large family of enzymes, with more than 500 members in human genome. They catalyze protein phosphorylation, resulting in a change of protein location, interaction with other proteins or nucleic acids, enzymatic activity, stability or other features. Protein phosphorylation plays a central role in the regulation of man cellular processes, such as proliferation, differentiation, migration, apoptosis and many others. Thus, misregulation of kinases can result in prominent changes in such processes and cause pathological conditions, such as cancer. I am interested in kinase functional and medical annotations.


Increased Level of Phosphorylated ShcA Measured by Chemiluminescence-Linked Immunoassay Is a Predictor of Good Prognosis in Primary Breast Cancer Expressing Low Levels of Estrogen Receptor - Cancers.
Cicenas J*, Küng W, Eppenberger U, Eppenberger-Castori S.
2010; 2(1):153-164. *Corresponding author.

The potential role of Akt phosphorylation in human cancers. - Int J Biol Markers.
Cicenas J.
2008 Jan-Mar;23(1):1-9.Review

The potential role of the EGFR/ERBB2 heterodimer in breast cancer. - Expert opinion Ther. Patents.
Cicenas J.
2007; 17(6): 607-16. Review

Protein chip based miniaturized assay for the simultaneous quantitative monitoring of cancer biomarkers in tissue extracts. - Proteomics.
Weissenstein U*, Schneider MJ*, Pawlak M*, Cicenas J*, Eppenberger-Castori S, Oroszlan P, Ehret S, Geurts-Moespot A, Sweep FC, Eppenberger U.
2006 Mar;6(5):1427-36. *contributed equally.

Phosphorylation of tyrosine 1248-ERBB2 measured by chemiluminescence-linked immunoassay is an independent predictor of poor prognosis in primary breast cancer patients. - Eur J Cancer.
Cicenas J, Urban P, Kung W, Vuaroqueaux V, Labuhn M, Wight E, Eppenberger U, Eppenberger-Castori S.
2006 Mar;42(5):636-45.

Increased level of phosphorylated akt measured by chemiluminescence-linked immunosorbent assay is a predictor of poor prognosis in primary breast cancer overexpressing ErbB-2. - Breast Cancer Res.
Cicenas J, Urban P, Vuaroqueaux V, Labuhn M, Kung W, Wight E, Mayhew M, Eppenberger U, Eppenberger-Castori S.
2005;7(4):R394-401. Epub 2005 Mar 24.

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