Harnessing and mobilizing the body's own resistance potential to beat cancer is an age-old dream. So far, the results of immunologic therapy approaches have been disappointing. But the latest findings suggest that hopes of an "inoculation" against cancer may not be entirely unfounded. In its newest edition, "Ruperto Carola" 3/98, Heidelberg University's research roundup, reports how, once stimulated, the body's defense mechanisms can recognize degenerate skin cells and destroy them. In the title story of the magazine, Professor Dirk Schadendorf of the Dermatological Hospital in Mannheim fills his readers in on the latest advances in what is definitely an innovative anti-cancer strategy. The other topics in the magazine range from musicology, geography, and Germanic studies to image processing at the Center for Interdisciplinary Scientific Computing.
Perhaps the most revolutionary development in the 20th century life-science landscape is the advent of molecular biology. Though pharmacological research has traditionally been chemically based, here too biology has developed into a powerful force for innovation. In the Editorial of the new issue of "Ruperto Carola" deputy vice-chancellor Professor Hartmut Kirchheim outlines the ways in which Heidelberg University is squaring up to the challenges in this field.
The first full-length article in the magazine comes from the Musicology Department. Its subject is Giovanni Valentini. The personality of this major but hitherto neglected figure in the history of music is elusive. We have no portrait of him, nor has he left any personal record of his life and times. Though Valentini was an incumbent of one of the most prestigious musical posts of his age, this important 17th century composer has succeeded in escaping the attention of musicological research. It was his misfortune to live in an epoch where the title of "supreme maestro" had already been bestowed elsewhere. The Department of Musicology has dedicated a symposium to this all-but-forgotten figure. In "Ruperto Carola" Silke Leopold describes the career of an outstanding musician, the major significance of his works and the shortcomings of a nationally oriented approach to musical historiography.
From 17th century Vienna we move to present-day Beirut. During the civil war in the Lebanon from 1975 to 1990, the city center of Beirut was partly destroyed. After the close of hostilities some 80 percent of the buildings were torn down in double-quick time to make way for a large-scale modern reconstruction scheme. This was undertaken partly without any kind of basis in law. Not only the former owners but also many artists and intellectuals became increasingly vocal in their criticism of this "tabula rasa" campaign. Hans Gebhardt of Heidelberg University's Department of Geography gives a detailed account of the actors and the controversies involved in the reconstruction of Beirut and the acceptance (or otherwise) accorded to it by the various religious groups.
In the quest for medieval manuscripts Heidelberg University's Old High German experts frequently have to engage in some highly unconventional detective work, as the next article in "Ruperto Carola" shows. The aim of these scholars is to track down testimonies of German literature and language usage in medieval and early modern Eastern Europe. To this end they have been combing local libraries, rootling through countless chests and crates for clues to medieval writings, and spending days on end scrutinizing sheaves of dust-covered, all-but-forgotten material long since relegated to the vaults. It is a labor of love with rich rewards for the tenacity of the scholars involved, who have come up with many a magnificent manuscript of much more than purely academic interest. Freimut Loeser and Dietrich Schmidtke of the Department of Germanic Studies give a graphic account of the unexpected excitements their work brings with it.
A very special form of cooperation has come into being at Heidelberg University in the shape of a research group with the title "Image Sequence Analysis in the Study of Dynamic Processes." Here scientists from very different research fields have joined forces to achieve a joint aim: the application of image processing in basic research. In his article, Bernd Jaehne from the Center for Interdisciplinary Scientific Computing sets out to demonstrate that image processing is a great deal more than just "taking pictures." He describes how digital image processing brought the various work-groups together, the new prospects their concerted action has opened up, and the experience gleaned by the scientists forming the interdisciplinary group, which is unique in the German scientific research landscape.
The final contribution is the text of an interview conducted by "Ruperto Carola" co-editor Claudia Wassmann with Professor Christoph Mundt, director-in-office of the Psychiatric Hospital of Heidelberg University, on the results of the recently completed "Heidelberg Depression Study" and its consequences for the treatment of depression sufferers. The interview is followed by the permanent columns of the magazine, including "News and Views," in which Stefan Meuer asks: "Quo Vadis European Research Funding?"
"Ruperto Carola" is printed by Universitaetsverlag C. Winter Heidelberger Verlagsanstalt. Single copies cost EUR 5 (EUR 2,50 for students). Like the special support subscription (4 issues for EUR 30) they can be ordered from: Pressestelle der Universitaet Heidelberg, Postfach 105760, D-69047 Heidelberg, Germany. Gratis copies of earlier issues are available for inspection in the foyer of the Old University (Grabengasse 1).
Please address any inquiries to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer
of the University of Heidelberg
Tel: +49 6221 542310, fax: 542317
You will find this press release in the Internet at www.uni-heidelberg.de/uni/presse
There you will also find the full German texts of all issues of "Ruperto Carola" complete with abstracts in English.