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University of Cologne to receive two new Collaborative Research Centres in Medicine

Basic medical research on aortic disease and lung cancer / CRC and Transregio to start work in July

Medical research at the University of Cologne will soon be enhanced by two large-scale third-party funded projects. The German Research Foundation (DFG) has recommended a Collaborative Research Centre and a CRC/Transregio for several millions in funding for an initial period of four years. Starting in July, the two new groups will begin their research on the biomedical foundations of the early detection and treatment of aortic disease, and the medical treatment of lung cancer.

The Collaborative Research Centre Mechanisms of Drug Sensitivity and Resistance in Small Cell Lung Cancer will investigate bronchial carcinoma, the most aggressive type of lung cancer, for a mechanism that has not yet been deciphered: Although small cell bronchial carcinoma initially reacts to chemotherapy, in most cases the tumour recurs within a very short time and is resistant to therapy. Scientists and physicians still do not sufficiently understand the causes of this high relapse rate.

Speaker Professor Dr med Roman Thomas, Director of the Institute for Translational Genomics at the UoC’s Faculty of Medicine, explains: ‘Bronchial carcinoma is one of the most common malignant diseases in humans. We want to analyse the tumour at the molecular level and use the findings to improve the success rates of the treatment. Recent discoveries in genomics have provided new mechanistic insights into the biology of this deadly disease. We are working in a highly interdisciplinary consortium which will lead to new clinical treatment methods across disciplines and Faculties thanks to a translational approach.’

In the Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 259 Aortic Disease, basic and clinical researchers at the Universities of Bonn, Düsseldorf and Cologne will work together to better understand fundamental principles in the pathogenesis of aortic disease. Led by Professor Dr Georg Nickenig at the University of Bonn, the CRC/TRR will explore pathophysiological mechanisms, i.e. pathologically altered functions of the aorta.

Professor Dr med Stephan Baldus from the UoC’s Faculty of Medicine and the Heart Centre of Cologne University Hospital is co-speaker of the CRC/TRR. ‘Our research initiative aims to develop a better understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in aortic diseases,’ he said. ‘A particular focus is on aortic valve stenosis – the most common heart valve defect. In addition, we will focus on the genetic and inflammatory mechanisms for the development of the aortic aneurysm, i.e. the pathological dilatation of the aorta. In the future, we hope to develop new pharmacological, interventional and surgical treatment strategies, which is currently a major shortcoming in the treatment of these diseases.’

Cologne offers medical researchers cross-Faculty infrastructures and established collaborations with university and non-university research institutions in the vicinity of Cologne University Hospital.

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Stephanie Wolff
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