Heidelberg CRC for vascular research to continue successful work

The Collaborative Research Centre "Vascular Control of Organ Function" (CRC 1366) at Heidelberg University will continue its research for another four years. After a positive evaluation, the application for extension for a second funding period has now been accepted in the latest approval round of the German Research Foundation (DFG). This biomedical consortium is receiving DFG funds worth approx. 14.3 million euros. It is based at the Medical Faculty Mannheim of Ruperto Carola; Hellmut Augustin continues as spokesperson for CRC 1366. Heidelberg physicists are also involved in the CRC/Transregio "Phenomenological Elementary Particle Physics after the Higgs Discovery" coordinated in Karlsruhe. The CRC/TRR 257 is also entering a second funding stage.

The research in CRC 1366 focuses on the mechanisms by which blood vessels control organ function during development, adult homeostasis and in disease processes. Directly or indirectly, vascular malfunctions are involved in a large number of deaths. Consequently, the goal is to better understand the processes behind life-threatening diseases and identify new avenues for therapeutic intervention by decoding complex vascular functions at the cellular and molecular level. The researchers mainly study the blood vessels in the brain, heart, lung, liver, and tumours. The focus is on the gatekeeper and regulatory functions of organ-specific endothelial cells, which line the interior of the blood vessels, and mural cells that cover the capillaries and small veins. In the transition from the first to the second funding period, CRC 1366 has incorporated new topics. Besides the functional diversity of endothelial cells in physiological and pathological situations these include the rapidly developing field of vascular aging research.

The Collaborative Research Centre "Vascular Control of Organ Function" involves scientists from the two Medical Faculties in Mannheim and Heidelberg, the Center for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University and the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. Also participating in the CRC are research groups from Bad Nauheim, Bonn, Göttingen, Frankfurt, Munich and Münster. Prof. Augustin directs the Department of Vascular Biology and Tumor Angiogenesis at the Medical Faculty Mannheim and is one of the two directors of the European Center for Angioscience (ECAS).

CRC/TRR 257 links up with the discovery of the Higgs particle in 2012. Cosmological and astrophysical observations indicate that, while the standard model of particle physics is structurally consistent, there must be further particles and interactions beyond this model. Systematically testing these questions with the data of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - the world’s biggest particle accelerator at the CERN research centre in Geneva (Switzerland) - calls for high-precision predictions based on fundamental quantum field theory. In these theory-based predictions, scientists working in the Collaborative Research Centre/Transregio "Phenomenological Elementary Particle Physics after the Higgs Discovery" play a leading role worldwide. Tilman Plehn and Dr Anja Butter from the Institute for Theoretical Physics are participating in the CRC/TRR 257 from Heidelberg University. They are working on global analyses in which all LHC data is systematically examined for deviations from the Higgs sector of the standard model or the entire standard model. A new Heidelberg emphasis in the second funding round is applications of artificial intelligence on LHC simulations and as a basis for new LHC analytical methods. The DFG is making funds worth approx. 15.9 million euros available for a period of four years. Besides the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Heidelberg University, the consortium also includes scientists from RWTH Aachen University and the University of Siegen, which are co-applicants.