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ERC Grant for new Therapy against Burn Scars


Major accolade for Professor Ursula Mirastschijski from the Center for Biomolecular Interactions in Faculty Biology/Chemistry, who has received a grant from the European Research Council (ERC) to develop a novel therapy against burn scars. People who have suffered severe burns are very often scarred for life. In future it is expected that the new therapy will prevent such scar formation. Last year the ERC supported her project with an ERC Starting Grant in an amount of 1.3 million euros. As of March 1, 2016, the ERC support will be extended for a further year via a Proof of Concept Grant worth 150,000 euros.

For their novel therapy to prevent scar formation, Ursula Mirastschijski and her team use a substance produced in our lungs called lung surfactant. This substance coats the lung’s surface, preventing it from collapsing when we breathe out. Humans automatically produce this substance from birth. Premature babies have to have the substance injected into their lungs to help them breathe.

Professor Ursula Mirastschijski from the Faculty of Biology/Chemistry has been awarded her second ERC grant.

Harald Rehling / Universität Bremen

Professor Mirastschijski and her team discovered that the substance inhibits inflammation and has wound-healing properties. So they asked themselves, “Why shouldn’t it also work on skin burns?” The first year of the research project SUMOWO (A Surface modulation of Wounds: heal by inhalants! Novel drug-based treatment for excessive scars and chronic wounds) proved very promising.

The University of Bremen researcher and plastic surgeon will use the bolt-on financing to carry out clinical tests at the hospital Klinikum Bremen-Mitte. She is now looking for suitable candidates for skin tests. “The tests are painless and perfectly harmless”, she stresses. If you are interested in becoming a test person, please send a mail to:

Fourth ERC Grant for researchers in Faculty Biology/Chemistry

ERC grants are among Europe’s most prestigious and coveted awards for researchers. The University of Bremen is quite outstanding in this regard, for there are now three female professors in the Faculty of Biology/Chemstry, Ursula Mirastschijski, Katrin Mädler and Rita Groß-Hardt, who between them have received four ERC grants. “This underscores the high level of molecular-biological research and sustainable gender mainstreaming practiced at the University of Bremen”, says Mirastschijski.

“I count myself fortunate to be able to do my research here.” She says she finds optimal conditions and support for her work here. Flat hierarchies and short administrative pathways facilitate smooth-functioning interdisciplinary cooperation and provide scope for innovative ideas. “All this is quite unique”, she says.

VolkswagenStiftung is supporting a further innovative project on wound healing

In addition to the above, Professor Ursula Mirastschijski is also receiving support for separate project on treating wounds and repairing skin tissue: She has been awarded 100,000 euros within the context of the Volkswagen Foundation’s funding initiative titled “Experiment”.

In this cooperation project, Ursula Mirastschijski and her project partners are attempting to manipulate skin cells so that they produce oxygen, which in turn then promotes the healing of chronic tissue damage. “Millions of years ago, plant life developed the ability to photosynthesize, which entails producing oxygen from sunlight”, Mirastschijski explains. “So what could be more natural than to utilize this way of producing oxygen to help heal wounds?”

On this project, she is working together with Professor Michael Vellekoop from the Institute for Microsensors, -Actuators and –Systems (IMSAS) embedded in the Faculty Physics/Electrical Engineering and Professor Anya Waite from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Bremerhaven. Professor Vellekoop is developing the microsensors needed to measure the oxygen, and Professor Waite is contributing her expertise in the field of oceanology.

Cooperation between the University and Klinikum Bremen-Mitte

Ursula Mirastschijski moved to the University of Bremen from the Medical University of Hanover in 2013, bringing her research group called “Wound Repair Unit” with her. Since 2012, she also works as a plastic surgeon at Klinikum Bremen-Mitte, and she is a senior physician at the Clinic for Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetical Surgery. “My applied research wouldn’t be possible without this close cooperation between University and clinic”, says Ursula Mirastschijski.

About Ursula Mirastschijski

Professor Ursula Mirastschijski studies medicine at the University of Ulm, where she was also awarded her doctorate. Following periods of clinical research in Sweden and Denmark and completion of her Ph.D. project she trained as a consultant for plastic and aesthetical surgery at the Otto-von-Guericke University of Magdeburg and at the Medical University of Hanover, where she submitted her post-doctoral dissertation in 2010 and was appointed to a professorship in 2015. She continued teaching as a professor at the Medical University of Hanover and Klinikum Bremen-Mitte. Among other things, she is member of the German Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetical Surgeons and member of the board of the European Tissue Repair Society.

If you would like to have more information on this topic, please contact:

University of Bremen
Faculty Biology/Chemistry
Center for Biomolecular Interactions
Prof. Dr. med. Dr. phil. Ursula Mirastschijski
Phone: 0421 218-63224

Meike Mossig | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

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