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Universität Heidelberg wins funding for two collaborative research centres


Heidelberg University succeeded in gaining support from the German Research Foundation (DFG) in the latest approval round, receiving funding for one new and one existing Collaborative Research Centre. The newly established CRC 1550, "Molecular Circuits of Heart Disease", is being coordinated at the Medical Faculty Heidelberg. CRC 1129, "Integrative Analysis of Pathogen Replication and Spread", is likewise coordinated there. This Collaborative Research Centre is entering its third funding period, and will thus reach the maximum twelve years. For the two CRCs, funding of approx. 27 million euros was approved for their respective four-year funding periods. In addition, Ruperto Carola researchers are involved in three other research consortia – two Collaborative Research Centres and one CRC/Transregio.

CRC 1550, "Molecular Circuits of Heart Disease", is focused on how inherited and acquired causes such as gene mutations or common metabolic diseases resulting from poor diet or lack of exercise lead to the development of heart disease. The work at the new Collaborative Research Centre, which is located at the Medical Faculty Heidelberg, is based on current findings that point to changes in gene expression at different levels as a cause of heart dysfunction. In order to understand the regulatory mechanisms in this process from gene to gene product, the researchers of CRC 1550 use epigenetic, RNA-biological, and biochemical methods, combining them with metabolic research, complex patient-oriented model systems and computer-assisted data analysis. They are hoping to find out which specific or common molecular switches can serve as new targets for tailored therapies. Prof. Dr Johannes Backs will serve as the CRC spokesperson. He is Director of the Institute of Experimental Cardiology, which was founded in 2018 and is a department within the Center for Internal Medicine of Heidelberg University Hospital. The CRC, which also involves researchers from the Medical Faculty Mannheim of Heidelberg University, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, and the German Cancer Research Center, has approx. 14 million euros in funding at its disposal.

The researchers of CRC 1129, "Integrative Analysis of Pathogen Replication and Spread", are investigating the spread of viruses and parasites in the body and how the body defends against pathogens. They are using an integrative approach to study the manifold interactions between pathogens and hosts that lead to an infection's spread or inhibition. The researchers are concentrating particularly on pathogens that occur globally and have a large burden of disease, such as those causing AIDS, malaria, hepatitis, and influenza. The mechanisms and principles studied can be applied to other pathogens as well, as shown for SARS-CoV-2 during the current funding period. Prof. Dr Hans-Georg Kräusslich, Chairman of the Center for Infectious Diseases and Director of the Center for Integrative Infectious Disease Research at Heidelberg University Hospital, will continue as spokesperson in the third funding period. Funding for CRC 1129, which is located at the Medical Faculty Heidelberg, totals approx. 12,9 million euros. It involves researchers of five of Heidelberg University's thirteen faculties as well as the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, the German Cancer Research Center, and several Max Planck Institutes.

Researchers from Heidelberg University are also participating in three other Collaborative Research Centres, including the newly established CRC 1531, “Damage Control by the Stroma-Vascular Compartment” at the University of Frankfurt/Main, and CRC 1328, "Adenine Nucleotides in Immunity and Inflammation", at the University of Hamburg, whose funding has been extended. Researchers from the Medical Faculty Heidelberg are involved in both of these, and in CRC/Transregio “TRiPs to Homeostasis: Maintenance of Body Homeostasis by Transient Receptor Potential Channel Modules” (CRC/TRR 152), whose funding has likewise been extended. The lead university of this transregional consortium is Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.


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