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New Collaborative Research Centres for LMU

München, 05/18/2018

Mechanisms of epigenetics, the evolution of life and the question of how the immune system distinguishes the body’s own from foreign DNA: The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) will fund three new large-scale projects.

At LMU, three new Collaborative Research Centres (CRCs) will be introduced according to today’s statement by the DFG.

The Collaborative Research Centre 1309 “Chemical Biology of Epigenetic Modifications” deals with the small chemical modifications of biomolecules. These epigenetic changes represent a second information level in the genetic makeup and play a crucial role in the regulation of various vital processes. The new CRC aims at explaining the chemical language of the modifications and at better understanding its origin and function. To do so, the scientists want to examine epigenetic mechanisms with the help of analytic and synthetic methods and identify the proteins involved. This way, the way for new options for the therapy of diseases such as cancer and certain mental disorders is to be opened up and paved. Speaker of the new CRC is the LMU chemist Professor Thomas Carell.

The evolution of life on earth: This question will be examined by TRR 235 “Emergence of life: Explorating mechanisms with cross-disciplinary experiments” in a comprehensive approach, connecting the disciplines of astronomy, earth sciences, physics, chemistry and biology. The participating scientists will analyze central aspects of molecular evolution by means of laboratory experiments and aim to understand how living matter develops from non-living matter. The long-term goal is to reproduce primitive living systems in the laboratory under conditions that could have existed on the young earth. The scientists around Professor Dieter Braun, LMU physicist and speaker of the new TRR, expect their research to contribute to a better understanding of the evolution of life and with it to expand our understanding of life - on Earth and on other planets.

Mechanisms to detect and eliminate foreign genetic material are the focus of the new CRC/Transregio 237 “Nucleic Acid Immunity”. Certain receptors of the immune system are able to distinguish foreign nucleic acids from the body’s own nucleic acids and therefore contribute in a decisive fashion to the defense against invading pathogens. Within the new CRC/Transregio, scientists want to understand the molecular mechanisms of nucleic acid immunity and examine how disturbances of this machinery contribute to the formation of diseases - for example chronic infections and autoimmune diseases. The here-obtained results should also enable the development of new, targeted therapies and therapeutic vaccines. Speaker of the CRC/Transregio is Professor Gunter Hartmann of the University of Bonn. In Munich, the project is headed by Professor Veit Hornung of the Gene Center Munich.

With LMU participation:

LMU also participates in the following new Collaborative Research Centres of other universities:

CRC 1321 “Modeling and targeting of the pancreatic carcinoma” (Applicant institution: TUM)

CRC 1335 “Aberrant immune signals with cancer” (Applicant institution: TUM)

CRC 1328 “Adenine nucleotides in immunity and inflammation” (Applicant institution: University of Hamburg)

Additional funding period:

Besides the establishment of the new Collaborative Research Centres, the DFG also approves the continuation of two CRCs at LMU. In line with the CRC “Atherosclerosis - Mechanisms and New Networks of Therapeutic Target Structures” (CRC 1123), the molecular mechanisms for the formation and the progress of atherosclerosis are analyzed with a discipline-spanning approach.

The researchers in the Transregio “TRiPs to Homeostasis: Maintenance of Body Homeostasis by Transient Receptor Potential Channel Modules” (TRR 152) examine how the human body regulates parameters that are essential for survival and which function the TRP ion channels have in this.

The two Collaborative Research Centres entering the second round of funding in more detail: Atherosclerosis and homeostasis