Doris Schittenhelm

Doris Schittenhelm

Doris Schittenhelm, M. Sc.

Department of Mathematics
Chair of Applied Mathematics (Modeling and Numerics) (Prof. Dr. Burger)

Room: Room 04.376
Cauerstr. 11
91058 Erlangen

Doris Schittenhelm works on biomathematical modelling of metabolic pathways and regulatory mechanisms especially in the context of ROS dynamics and oxidative stress in cells. Besides modelling the cellular metabolism, her main research field is the parametrization of the evolved mathematical models using diverse types of data from in vitro experiments.
She is member of the research group AG Neuss-Radu.

Research interests:

    • biomathematical modelling of metabolic pathways and regulatory mechanisms
    • ROS dynamics / oxidative stress in cells
    • parameterization of mathematical models employing diverse data types from in vitro experiments
    • Bayesian model comparison and parameter estimation
    • (Markov Chain) Monte Carlo methods


since 2017 PhD student at FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg under supervision of PD Dr. Maria Neuss-Radu
2014–2017 Master’s studies in Integrated Life Sciences, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg
Mathematical Modelling and Systems Biology
Biological Structures and Processes
Topic of Master’s Thesis:
Mathematical Modelling and Simulation of Response Pathways for Cellular Stress
2015 Semester abroad at Itä-Suomen yliopisto (University of Eastern Finland) in Joensuu, Finland (ERASMUS+)
2011–2014 Bachelor’s studies in Integrated Life Sciences, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg
2011 Abitur at Ostendorfer-Gymnasium Neumarkt i.d.OPf.


07/2019 — 06/2020 PhD scholarship “Bavarian Equal Opportunities Sponsorship – Realisierung von Chancengleichheit von Frauen in Forschung und Lehre (FFL) – Realization Equal Opportunities for Women Research and Teaching“
07/2018 travel allowance from FAU (Tagungsförderung für Frauen) for participation at ECMTB 2018
08/2017 scholarship from The Alan Turing Institute, London, for summer school on Mathematical Aspects of Inverse Problems

Lectures and Practicals

      • Practicals for lecture “Partial Differential Equations for Life Sciences” (SS 18)
      • Practicals for lecture “Biomathematics” (WS 17/18)

Research interests

As a doctoral student, Doris Schittenhelm currently works on a research project about mathematical modelling of response pathways for cellular stress. There, she identifies relevant metabolic pathways and corresponding regulatory mechanisms. From these a mathematical model is deduced and parametrized. Additionally, she develops techniques to estimate parameters from diverse in vitro data and, particularly, evolves a standardized method to analyse fluorescence measurements from a Bayesian perspective especially in the context of cross talk. For this task she applies modern Monte Carlo techniques amongst others. Since July 2019, she obtains the PhD scholarship “Bavarian Equal Opportunities Sponsorship – Realisierung von Chancengleichheit von Frauen in Forschung und Lehre (FFL) – Realization Equal Opportunities for Women in Research and Teaching“.

Scientific talks

      • “Mathematical modelling of cellular response pathways for oxidative stress”, July 27 2018, ESMTB 2018, Lisbon, Portugal


      • 11th European Conference on Mathematical and Theoretical Biology (ECMTB 2018), 23 Jul 2018 – 27 Jul 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
      • Summer School: Mathematical Aspects of Inverse Problems, 29 Aug 2017 — 01 Sep 2017, The Alan Turing Institute, London, UK


  • Dose-response modeling of 3-nitrobenzanthrone-induced alterations of the energy metabolism in urothelial cells

    (Third Party Funds Single)

    Term: 01-01-2017 - 31-12-2018
    Funding source: DFG-Einzelförderung / Sachbeihilfe (EIN-SBH)

    Bladder cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers and is often linked with exposure to certain chemicals. Besides the known carcinogens such as 2-naphthylamine, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are increasingly discussed as risk factors. In addition, a positive association has been observed between exposure to diesel engine exhaust and cancer of the urinary bladder. A powerful mutagenic and clastogenic compound of diesel exhaust is the nitrated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon 3-nitrobenzanthrone (3-NBA). 3-NBA is reduced to reactive intermediates and produced the highest score ever reported in the Ames-test. It is carcinogenic in rats causing lung tumors and was classified as possible carcinogenic to humans by the IARC.Adducts and an increased mutant frequency were detected in various organs as lung, kidney and bladder. The main metabolite of 3-NBA, 3-aminobenzanthrone (3-ABA), was found in the urine of salt mine workers occupationally exposed to diesel emissions. It can therefore be assumed that the bladder is also a target organ of toxicity. As most studies have so far only partially investigated the underlying mechanism predominant in lung cells, the proposed project will highlight the cellular response to 3-NBA in urothelial cells. Recently, cancer biology has recalled Otto Warburgs description of the switch to glycolysis in cancer cells (1956) and started to elucidate the metabolic reprogramming in cancer. While the importance of metabolism in cancer is becoming increasingly apparent, our comprehension of the metabolic response to xenobiotic exposure lags behind other areas of toxicological research. The energy metabolism plays a fundamental role in the anti-oxidant defense and DNA repair by activating pathways such as the pentose phosphate pathway. From a toxicological point of view the threshold above which the cell cannot successfully manage the maintenance of the homeostasis by the switch in energy metabolism would be of particular interest. This threshold may serve as a point where cell transition from stress adaptation to stress-related adversity takes place. Therefore, in the proposed project, the dose response relationship in the energy metabolism with regard to anti-oxidative defense and DNA repair will be investigated. In addition, the changes will be linked to posttranslational modifications of p53 which is being reported to regulate central aspects of energy metabolism, anti-oxidant defense and DNA repair. Finally, the underlying biochemical control network pathways will be mathematically modelled with the objective of simulating the dose response curve in the low-dose region. This approach might allow examining the issue of threshold response.