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First International Graduate School for Skeletal Muscle Diseases - Partners: MDC, Charité, Université Pierre et Marie Curie Pari

There are approximately 400 different skeletal muscle diseases, each of which is rare and incurable. Furthermore, there is no structured platform for PhD training in this field. This shall soon change.

The German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Université Pierre et Marie Curie Paris VI (UPMC), Paris, France are now establishing the first international, structured PhD program in myology at the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) in Berlin-Buch and at the UPMC in Paris. "The International Research Training Group for Myology" (MyoGrad) shall begin on April 1, 2010 for a funding period of four and one-half years.

The DFG shall fund 18 PhD students at the Graduate School with 4.5 million euros, and the UPMC and the self-help organization AFM (Association française contre les myopathies) shall fund an additional 15 PhD students. The spokesperson for the research training group in Berlin is Professor Simone Spuler, neurologist and myologist at the ECRC of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and Charité - University Medical Center Berlin. In addition, she is head of the Muscle Research Unit at the ECRC. The spokespersons of MyoGrad in Paris are Professor Thomas Voit and Dr. Helge Amthor of the Institute of Myology of the Université Paris VI. Both are specialists for neuromuscular diseases in childhood.

Therapy development and muscle stem cell research
The focus of the new training and research program is the development of therapies for hereditary muscle diseases (muscular dystrophies), in which in particular the skeletal muscles degenerate as the disease progresses. An additional focus will be on muscle stem cells, in order to better understand the regeneration potential of skeletal muscles. This is also of interest with respect to muscle wasting in old age, chronic diseases or tumor diseases.
Animals hibernate without muscle atrophy
Two years ago the German Research Foundation established the Clinical Research Group "Regulation and Dysregulation of Muscle Growth" (KFO 192) at the ECRC in Berlin-Buch, which is also headed by Professor Spuler. One question the researchers are seeking to answer is why animals that hibernate do not have muscular atrophy as opposed to humans who are inactive or who are bed-ridden. Basic researchers and clinicians from a variety of disciplines working in France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S. are collaborating in this project.
MDC holds 2nd place in DFG funding ranking
Among the non-university research institutions, the MDC recently took second place in the 2009 funding ranking of the German Research Foundation (DFG). It acquired 16.3 million euros in third-party grants and thus ranked higher than the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg with 16.1 million euros, which took third place. The Leibniz Institute of Marine Science in Kiel ranked first with 33.1 million euros.
Barbara Bachtler
Press and Public Affairs
Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch
Robert-Rössle-Straße 10; 13125 Berlin; Germany
Phone: +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 96
Fax: +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 33
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Barbara Bachtler | Max-Delbrück-Centrum
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