Sonja Hager

Academic Career and Education

  • 2017-2021 Medical University Vienna Postgraduate course Toxicology
  • 10/2016 – 06/2021 Medical University of Vienna PhD study in Malignant Diseases Supervisor: Petra Heffeter
  • 09/2018 – 09/2019 Medical University Vienna“Schrittweise” Curriculum for Young Scientists encompassing: Carrier Coaching and Consulting, Time and Stress Management, Scientific Writing and Publishing, Team Competence and Conflict Management, Self-presentation
  • 10/2013 – 09/2016 University of Vienna, Master study of Molecular Biology with focus on Molecular Cell Biology, at the Institute of Cancer Research,Superviser: Petra Heffeter, Identified structural requirements for the anticancer activity of thiosemicarbazones during Master thesis
  • 10/2010 – 08/2013 University of Vienna, Bachelor study Biology with focus on Molecular Biology, Bachelor thesis at the MFPL (Max F. Perutz Laboratories), Supervisor: Friedrich Propst

Research Experience

  • 07/2021 – 06/2022 Institute of Cancer Research, Medical University of Vienna, PostDoc in the group of Prof. Dr. Petra Heffeter, drug development and resistance
  • 09/2021 – 12/2021 Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology (IPATIMUP), University of Porto, Portugal, Research visit  financed by EMBO short-term fellowship, Supervisor: Salomé Pinho, Investigating the role of treatment-induced glycosylation on the anticancer immune response
  • 10/2016 – 06/2021 Institute of Cancer Research, Medical University of Vienna, PhD Researcher, Supervisor: Petra Heffeter, Increased the knowledge of a novel cell death mechanism, Assessed connections between chemical properties of anticancer drugs and their biological activity, Investigated the role of the immune system in anticancer therapy, Establishment and characterization of a drug resistant cancer cell line, Supervision of 2 master students and 4 short time research visitors
  • 07/2017 Department of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary, Research visit financed by the Scientific and Technological Cooperation, project of the OeAD, Supervisor: Éva A. Enyedy, Analysis of solution stability and redox kinetics of copper(II) complexes of anticancer thiosemicarbazones
  • 01/2015 – 10/2016 Institute of Cancer Research, Medical University of Vienna, Master thesis, Supervisor: Petra Heffeter, Elucidated the mode of action of novel anticancer drugs

Teaching Experience

  • 12/2017 Medical University of Vienna, Assistant in the practical seminar “ABC transporter-mediated drug resistance”
  • 11/2015 University of Vienna, Tutor for a microbiology and genetics course

Awards and Fellowships

  • EMBO short-term fellowship at the IPATIMUP, Porto Portugal (3 months)
  • 1st prize for the best oral poster presentation at the virtual STRATAGEM (CA17104) meeting 2020
  • “DOC-Stipendium”, Doctoral Fellowship Program of the Austrian Academy of Science (3 years)
  • Scholarship for extraordinarily success during Master study ("Leistungsstipendium") 3 semesters
  • Scholarship for extraordinarily success during Bachelor study ("Leistungsstipendium") 5 semesters

Poster Presentations

  • 04/2023 Hager S., Berger W., Kowol Ch.R., Enyedy E.A., Heffeter P.: “The role of protein disulfide isomerase and copper in the paraptotic cell death of clinically investigated anticancer thiosemicarbazones”, AACR annual meeting 2023, Orlando, USA
  • 2020 Poster presentation at the virtual STRATAGEM (CA17104) meeting
  • 2020 Poster presentation at the AACR virtual annual meeting
  • 2018 Poster presentation at the EMBO Workshop – Cellular Signaling and Cancer Therapy Cavtat, Croatia
  • 2018 Poster presentation at the YSA PhD symposium in Vienna, Austria
  • 2018 Poster presentation at the CCC-Trio Symposium Vienna, Austria
  • 2017 Poster presentation at the 6th Metallomics Conference, Vienna, Austria
  • 2017 Poster presentation at the YSA PhD symposium in Vienna, Austria
  • 2016 Poster presentation at the 13th European Biological Inorganic Chemistry (EuroBIC 13) Budapest, Hungary

Oral Presentations

  • 2018 Oral presentation at the Minisymposium on Thiosemicarbazones in Szeged, Hungary
  • 2016 Oral presentation at the YSA PhD symposium in Vienna, Austria


  • 12/2023 Louro H., Vettorazzi A., López de Cerain A., Spyropoulou A., Solhaug A., Straumfors A., Behr A-C., Mertens B., Žegura B., Kruse Fæste C., Ndiaye D., Spilioti E., Varga E., Dubreil E., Borsos E., Crudo F., Sundstøl Eriksen G., Snapkow I., Henri J.  11 , Sanders J.  6 , Machera K. 3 , Gaté L., Le Hegarat L., Novak M., Smith  N.M., Krapf S., Hager S., Fessard V., Kohl Y., Silva M.J., Dirven H., Dietrich J., Marko D., Hazard characterization of Alternaria toxins to identify data gaps and improve risk assessment for human health, Archives of Toxicology
  • Mathuber M, Hager S (contributed equally), Keppler BK, Heffeter P, Kowol CR. Liposomal formulations of anticancer copper(ii) thiosemicarbazone complexes. Dalton Trans. 2021 Sep 27. doi: 10.1039/D1DT02763H.
  • Fronik P, Poetsch I, Kastner A, Mendrina T, Hager S, […] Keppler BK, Heffeter P, Kowol CR. Structure-Activity Relationships of Triple-Action Platinum(IV) Prodrugs with Albumin-Binding Properties and Immunomodulating Ligands. J Med Chem. 2021 Aug 17. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.1c00770.
  • Bormio NJH, Hager S (contributed equally), Mathuber M, […] Berger W, Keppler BK, Heffeter P, Kowol CR. Cancer cell resistance against the clinically investigated thiosemicarbazone COTI-2 is based on formation of intracellular copper complex glutathione adducts and ABCC1-mediated efflux. J Med Chem. 2020 Nov 25;63(22):13719-13732. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.0c01277.
  • Hager S, Pape VFS, Pósa V, [...] Keppler BK, Kowol CR, Enyedy EA, Heffeter P. High copper complex stability and slow reduction kinetics as key parameters for improved activity, paraptosis induction and impact on drug-resistant cells of anticancer thiosemicarbazones. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2020 Aug 20;33(6):395-414. doi: 10.1089/ars.2019.7854.
  • Alonso-de Castro S, Terenzi A, Hager S, Englinger B, Faraone A, Martínez JC, Galanski M, Keppler BK, Berger W, Salassa L. Biological activity of Pt(IV)prodrugs triggered by riboflavin-mediated bioorthogonal photocatalysis. Sci Rep. 2018 Nov 21;8(1):17198. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-35655-2.
  • Hager S, Korbula K, Bielec B, […] Keppler BK, Berger W, Kowol CR, Heffeter P. The thiosemicarbazone Me(2)NNMe(2) induces paraptosis by disrupting the ER thiol redox homeostasis based on protein disulfide isomerase inhibition. Cell Death Dis. 2018 Oct 15;9(11):1052. doi:10.1038/s41419-018-1102-z.
  • Schelch K, Wagner C, Hager S, […] Berger W, Grusch M, Hoda MA. FGF2 and EGF induce epithelial-mesenchymal transition in malignant pleural mesothelioma cells via a MAPKinase/MMP1 signal. Carcinogenesis 2018 Apr 5;39(4):534-545. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgy018.
  • Pati ML, Fanizza E, Hager S, Groza D, Heffeter P, Laurenza AG, Laquintana V, Curri ML, Depalo N, Abate C, Denora N. Quantum Dot Based Luminescent Nanoprobes for Sigma-2 Receptor Imaging. Mol Pharm. 2018 Feb 5;15(2):458-471. doi:10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.7b00825.
  • Conibear AC, Hager S (contributed equally), Mayr J, Klose MHM, Keppler BK, Kowol CR, Heffeter P, Becker CFW. Multifunctional αvβ6 Integrin-Specific Peptide-Pt(IV) Conjugates for Cancer Cell Targeting. Bioconjug Chem. 2017 Aug 10. doi: 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.7b00421.
  • Pelivan K, Frensemeier L, Karst U, Koellensperger G, Bielec B, Hager S, Heffeter P, Keppler BK, Kowol CR. Understanding the metabolism of the anticancer drug Triapine: electrochemical oxidation, microsomal incubation and in vivo analysis using LC-HRMS. Analyst. 2017 Aug 21;142(17):3165-3176. doi: 10.1039/c7an00902j.
  • Mayr J, Hager S, Koblmüller B, [...] Heffeter P, Kowol CR, Keppler BK. EGFR-targeting peptide-coupled platinum(IV) complexes. J Biol Inorg Chem. 2017 Jun;22(4):591-603. doi: 10.1007/s00775-017-1450-7. Epub 2017 Apr 12.
  • Miklos W, Heffeter P, Pirker C, Hager S, Kowol CR, Schoonhoven SV, Stojanovic M, Keppler BK, Berger W. Loss of phosphodiesterase 4D mediates acquired triapine resistance via Epac-Rap1-Integrin signaling. Oncotarget. 2016 Sep 2. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.11821.
  • Pati ML, Groza D, Riganti C, Kopecka J, Niso M, Berardi F, Hager S, Heffeter P, Hirai M, Tsugawa H, Kabe Y, Suematsu M, Abate C. Sigma-2 receptor and progesterone receptor membrane component 1 (PGRMC1) are two different proteins: Proofs by fluorescent labeling and binding of sigma-2 receptor ligands to PGRMC1. Pharmacol Res. 2017 Mar;117:67-74. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2016.12.023. Epub 2016 Dec 19.
  • Kowol CR, Miklos W, Pfaff S, Hager S, Kallus S, Pelivan K, Kubanik M, Enyedy ÉA, Berger W, Heffeter P, Keppler BK. Impact of Stepwise NH2-Methylation of Triapine on the Physicochemical Properties, Anticancer Activity, and Resistance Circumvention. Journal of medicinal chemistry. 2016 Jul 28;59(14):6739-52. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b00342.