25.7 million euros for research: the DFG funds two collaborative research centres/Transregios at the Faculty of Medicine

The German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) approved two CRC/TRR applications from Essen in early 2020. Professor Jan Buer, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, commented: “We are extremely pleased with our success and consider it a clear sign of the strength of our research. It reassures us of the viability of our strategy, on which the German Council of Science and Humanities commented very favourably. We are also pleased that both collaborative research centres are headed by renowned female scientists. Essen is a leading centre of gender equality in academia, too.”

The power of expectations: a new collaborative research centre/Transregio at the Faculty of Medicine

The transregional CRC/TRR 289, ‘Treatment Expectation’, examines the impact of expectations on efficacy of medical treatments. Headed by the University of Duisburg-Essen, the CRC/TRR approaches the topic from an interdisciplinary perspective. Professor Ulrike Bingel of the Faculty of Medicine at UDE is the spokesperson for the research alliance, which also includes Universität Hamburg  and the University of Marburg. The DFG will be funding this CRC for an initial period of four years with approximately 12 million euros.

Local control of thyroid hormone action: a new collaborative research centre/Transregio at the Faculty of Medicine

The new CRC/TRR 296 will be researching local control of thyroid hormone action over the next four years. Professor Dagmar Führer, Director of the Faculty’s Clinic for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Essen University Hospital, is the spokesperson of the research alliance. Its other contributors are the University of Lübeck and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. The DFG will be funding this CRC for an initial period of four years with 13.7 million euros.

New research unit on stroke – more than one million euros of DFG funding for researchers in Essen

The DFG is establishing FOR 2879, a new research unit on stroke, at the UDE’s Faculty of Medicine. Managed from Essen University Hospital, the new alliance is a collaborative project of the University of Essen, the University of Munich, Universität Hamburg, and the University of Münster. Its objective is to study the role of the immune system in stroke and develop new treatment options.

The DFG funds research into autoimmune hepatitis

Autoimmune hepatitis is a rare chronic disease. A dysfunction in the body’s immune system causes it to attack its own liver cells, which leads to hepatitis, i.e., inflammation of the liver. The DFG is funding the research project of the Clinic for Gastroenterology and Hepatology, which aims to develop new cellular therapies, with approximately 340,000 euros for an initial period of three years.

The DFG funds research into myocardial infarction

The DFG has allocated 470,000 euros in funding to a joint project by PD Dr Ulrike Hendgen-Cotta and Professor Tienush Rassaf, which aims to investigate the role of exogenic nitrite in protecting myocardial mitochondria during an acute myocardial infarction.

DFG-funded study: what role do our intestinal microflora and immune cells play in cerebral infarction?

Our gut flora affects our brain function. Imbalances in these microbiota may cause diseases, for example, stroke. Dr Vikramjeet Singh, a neuroscientist at UDE, researches the interrelation of intestinal microflora and immune cells and how it can affect cerebral infarction. In particular, he examines intestinal microbial diversity and neutrophils, the latter of which comprise the first line of immune response against pathogens. The DFG will be funding Dr Singh’s study with 430,000 euros over the next three years.

750,000 euros in DFG funding against cancer

The German Research Foundation has allocated 750,000 euros in funding to two studies, one on melanoma and one on lung cancer, based at Essen University Hospital. Scientists of the UDE Faculty of Medicine are working on algorithms for imaging techniques that will allow their users to verify the success of cancer therapies faster and more precisely.

Worldwide university ranking: Essen’s medical research scores top marks

The medical research of the University of Duisburg-Essen has achieved excellent results in the renowned ‘Best Global Universities Rankings’ published by the news magazine ‘U.S. News & World Report’. It features prominently in the rankings for North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany and the world. For more than 30 years, the annual rankings have assessed the academic performance of nearly 1,500 universities, their faculties and departments.

The UDE’s oncology research was particularly successful: it ranked second in Germany, first in North Rhine-Westphalia and 15th internationally. Oncology is one of five key research areas of the Faculty of Medicine. The Faculty’s research into cardiovascular diseases also ranked first in North Rhine-Westphalia, came fourth in Germany and 57th worldwide. The radiology team has secured a place in the global top 100, occupying rank 70. Ranked eleventh in Germany and third in North Rhine-Westphalia, the researchers have achieved truly impressive results.

Better therapies for widespread conditions: the Institute of Transfusion Medicine researches anti-inflammatory extracellular vesicles

Within the scope of the international research project AutoCRAT, the Institute of Transfusion Medicine is developing new methods of using large quantities of extracellular vesicles (EVs) for therapeutic purposes. Stem-cell-derived EVs are a promising candidate for future therapies of widespread inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis. The EU is funding AutoCRAT to the tune of 760,000 euros for four years.

A new approach to stroke research: decoding signal pathways

Thromboinflammation has a decisive influence on the course of a stroke. This inflammatory response is triggered by an interaction of blood platelets and immune cells, which drives infarct growth in large parts of the brain. Researchers of the medical faculties and the University of Münster are currently researching the relation between these phenomena. The DFG is funding the project with approximately 500,000 euros.

Coronary artery calcification is partially hereditary

An interdisciplinary research unit at the UDE’s Faculty of Medicine has been able to prove that lifestyle is not the only factor driving calcification of the coronary arteries. Genetic variations in the G-protein signalling pathway have an impact, too. The researchers spent five years analysing 3,108 randomly selected participants of the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study. They have published their results in the journal Atherosclerosis.

A quantum leap in kidney research: the first explanation of kidney filtering disorders

Scientists of the UDE’s Faculty of Medicine have worked with an international team of the CECAD Excellence Cluster in Cologne and various Institutes from Boston, Stockholm and Regensburg on a project that has led to the discovery of a previously unnoticed cause of kidney diseases. Their insights will aid and accelerate the development of targeted therapies. The renowned journal nature metabolism recently reported about their breakthrough discovery.

A boon for the mind: thyroid impact on brain function greater than assumed

Researchers from the UDE’s Faculty of Medicine and the University of Edinburgh have discovered that thyroid hormones directly promote the formation of nerve cells in the part of the brain that control learning and memory.  Their results will inform new approaches to improving mental performance. The renowned journal Stem Cell Reports reported on the discovery.

A study on malignant skin cancer: immune cells facilitate more accurate prediction of positive therapy outcomes

Merkel cell carcinoma is a malignant type of skin cancer that is often highly aggressive. Unfortunately, only half of patients benefit from conventional therapy. Scientists of the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK) at the UDE’s Faculty of Medicine have explored potential methods of predicting the success of immunotherapy more effectively. Clinical Cancer Research reported on their work.

Hepatitis B viruses: liver cells are not defenceless

Once the hepatitis B virus enters the body, it causes a chronic infection of the liver in up to ten per cent of patients. To this day, we do not know how the pathogen overcomes the immune system. A recent discovery may help solve the riddle: a team of researchers of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Duisburg-Essen have established how the immune system can successfully fight the virus.

Scavenger cells versus killer cells: interaction in the tumour tissue made visible

Neutrophil granulocytes, scavenger cells of the immune system, fight infection. But they are also suspected of promoting cancer. A UDE research team under Professor Sven Brandau of the Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinic at Essen University Hospital was able to prove this process in human tumour tissue for the first time.

Antiviral therapy: kidneys of hepatitis patients can be transplanted safely

There is still a severe shortage of donor organs in Germany. Medical researchers are developing methods to transplant organs that were previously considered unsuitable. An interdisciplinary team of the Faculty of Medicine has examined whether kidneys from deceased donors who carried the hepatitis C virus can help recipients without the virus.

Polytherapy investigated in a phase-III study: a new life-prolonging treatment does not impact on the quality of life of glioblastoma patients

Glioblastoma are rapidly growing, highly aggressive brain tumours that are treated with surgery, radiation and chemotherapeutic agents. A team of researchers from several German university hospitals, including a medical doctor from the UDE’s Faculty of Medicine, have taken a closer look at the efficacy of polytherapy involving two such chemotherapeutic agents. Any form of cancer therapy takes a toll on the patient. The researchers have analysed their condition after the polytherapy and found that quality of life is not impacted. Their study was published in Lancet Oncology.

Not just a mental-health issue: anorexia nervosa may be genetic

Anorexia nervosa is one of the most lethal psychiatric conditions. Within the scope of an international study, researchers of the Faculty of Medicine were able to show that the disorder can also be genetic. Nature Genetics has reported on their findings.

Improving organ transplants: with oxygen and slow temperature increases

How can we prepare sub-optimal liver transplants to give patients a new lease on life? Researchers of the Faculty of Medicine have studied the factors and processes involved in transplant quality and the long-term survival of transplant recipients. They have published their findings in two recent publications.

New approaches to fighting diabetes: CAR T cells

Autoimmune diseases are on the rise. As many as 300,000 people in Germany have type-1 diabetes. It is caused by an imbalance in the immune system, which attacks and kills the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.  Researchers of the Faculty of Medicine have attempted to restore the balance during laboratory experiments by artificially creating regulatory CAR T cells for type-1 diabetes.

Preventing hospital-acquired infection: growth factor inhibits natural killer cells

ICU patients often suffer from systemic inflammatory response syndrome, which them particularly vulnerable to hospital-acquired infections. Until recently, the reasons for this were entirely opaque. A team of researchers of the Faculty of Medicine has now discovered one of the causes: the natural killer cells of the immune system are compromised.

Discovery of a key enzyme that slows down collapse of the blood-brain barrier

After a stroke, it is imperative to restore blood flow through the brain. The blood clot is either dissolved by drugs or removed mechanically. In rare cases, however, the return of the blood supply (reperfusion) can lead to a collapse of the vital blood-brain barrier. Scientists of Maastricht University, the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Duisburg-Essen, and Essen University Hospital have investigated the causes of this phenomenon.

Newly discovered blood vessel system in bones

A team of researchers under Professor Matthias Gunzer and Dr Anja Hasenberg of the Institute of Experimental Immunology and Imaging at UDE’s Faculty of Medicine has identified a previously overlooked network of extremely thin blood vessels which directly connects the bone marrow with the circulatory system under the periosteum. Their results have been published in Nature Metabolism