New Collaborative Research Centre for Stem Cell Research
German Research Foundation to provide funding of more than 10 million euros over a period of four years
Prof. Dr. Anthony D. Ho
A new Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) for adult stem cell research at Heidelberg University will receive funding in the amount of over 10 million euros from the German Research Foundation (DFG). The DFG announced approval of the funding for a period of four years. SFB 873 is entitled “Maintenance and Differentiation of Stem Cells in Development and Disease” and encompasses 17 subprojects and three junior research groups. The teams of scientists involved are based at the Medical Faculties Heidelberg and Mannheim, the Institute of Zoology, Heidelberg University’s Centre for Molecular Biology, the Institute of Applied Mathematics and the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ).
Over the next four years the teams will focus on the fundamental mechanisms controlling the self-maintenance and differentiation of stem cells. Although adult stem cells were discovered over 50 years ago and have been studied intensively ever since, their fundamental regulatory mechanisms are still largely unexplained. Comparative studies are planned on model mechanisms of relevance to evolutionary biology in plants (Arabidopsis) and animals (Hydra freshwater polyp, Drosophila fruit-fly, fish, frog, mice). The principles of stem-cell control can be deciphered in simple model organisms and then projected onto more complex organisms, all the way up to humans.
SFB 873 will be coordinated at the Medical Faculty in Heidelberg. The spokesperson is Prof. Dr. Anthony D. Ho, Medical Director of the Department of Haematology, Oncology and Rheumatology, one of the largest centres for stem cell transplantation in Germany. The “Maintenance and Differentiation of Stem Cells in Development and Disease” Collaborative Research Centre is unique in its close collaboration between basic and clinical researchers. This interaction facilitates an interdisciplinary approach to the elucidation of key elements in stem cell biology and opens up new avenues to explore in the development of future therapeutic strategies.