DFG Funding For Heidelberg Collaborative Research Centres
18 May 2018
Heidelberg University succeeded in gaining support from the German Research Foundation (DFG) in the latest approval round, receiving funding for three research networks. Two Collaborative Research Centres (CRC) in Heidelberg Medicine, the "Reactive Metabolites as a Cause of Diabetic Complications" CRC 1118 and the "Integrative Analysis of Pathogen Replication and Spread" CRC 1129, were both extended for a second four-year funding period. The “Maintenance and Differentiation of Stem Cells in Development and Disease” CRC 873 in the biosciences had its work approved for a third funding period. Total DFG funding for the three consortia is more than 35 million euros. Researchers from Heidelberg University are also involved in a transregional CRC with lead institution in Munich.
CRC 873 is investigating the underlying mechanisms that govern stem cell self-renewal and differentiation across diverse organisms. One main focus is adult stem cells, whose regulation mechanisms remain largely unclarified. Comparative studies are being conducted on model plant and animal organisms relevant to evolutionary biology. The research is aimed at decoding the principles of stem cell control in simple model systems and then applying them to more complex life forms, including humans. The "Maintenance and Differentiation of Stem Cells in Development and Disease" CRC is coordinated at the Centre for Organismal Studies (COS) of Heidelberg University. On completion of the third funding period, the Collaborative Research Centre will have reached its 12-year maximum. The unique collaboration dovetails the basic sciences of biology, physics and mathematics with clinical research in medicine. Participating organisations include a number of institutes and centres at Ruperto Carola, the Medical Faculties Heidelberg and Mannheim and the German Cancer Research Center. Prof. Dr Jan Lohmann, head of the Stem Cell Biology research group at the COS, will continue as the spokesperson for CRC 873, whose funding totals approximately 11.4 million euros.
CRC 1118 focuses on the metabolic disorder diabetes, especially its late complications. Until now, treatment has concentrated on controlling blood glucose levels. Study results indicate however, that this is not sufficient to prevent diabetes-related complications, such as the organ and nerve damage caused by specific metabolic by-products called reactive metabolites. The researchers hope to discover how these substances, which are toxic to the cells of the body, form in patients with diabetes and how they inflict long-term damage. On that basis, they are working on treatment approaches that reduce reactive metabolites in diabetes and prevent its complications. CRC spokesperson is still Prof. Dr Peter Nawroth, Medical Director of the Clinic for Endocrinology, Metabolism and Clinical Chemistry of Heidelberg University Hospital. In the second funding period, the "Reactive Metabolites as a Cause of Diabetic Complications" CRC will have approximately 11.2 million euros at its disposal. The Collaborative Research Center is coordinated at the Medical Faculty Heidelberg. Other participants include researchers from the Medical Faculty Mannheim and the German Cancer Research Center.
The researchers of CRC 1129 are investigating the spread of viruses and parasites in the body and defence against pathogens. They are using an integrative approach to study the manifold interactions between pathogens and host organisms that lead to an infection's propagation and spread or to its inhibition. They study infections both at the tissue level, in order to closely replicate the conditions in the living organism, as well as at the cellular and molecular level, with a view to precisely characterising every single interaction. These observations will be used to develop new treatment approaches over the long term. The researchers are concentrating particularly on widespread pathogens such as those of AIDS, malaria, hepatitis and influenza. The mechanisms and principles studied can be still applied to other pathogens as well. With funding of approximately 13.1 million euros, the work of the “Integrative Analysis of Pathogen Replication and Spread” CRC is coordinated at the Medical Faculty Heidelberg. Prof. Dr Hans-Georg Kräusslich, Executive Director of the Centre for Infectious Diseases at Heidelberg University Hospital, will continue as spokesperson in the second funding period. Physicists, chemists and bioscientists from Heidelberg University, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research and the German Cancer Research Center are also involved in the work of the Collaborative Research Centre.
Researchers from Heidelberg University are also involved in the "TRiPs to Homeostasis: Maintenance of Body Homeostasis by Transient Receptor Potential Channel Modules" CRC/TRR 152, whose funding has likewise been extended. The Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich is the lead institution.