How do cells respond to damage and how are disturbances in cellular equilibrium avoided or compensated? These issues are at the heart of a new Collaborative Research Centre funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and ready to be launched at Heidelberg University on 1 July 2012.
The CRC 1036 “Cellular Quality Control and Damage Response” is coordinated by Prof. Dr. Bernd Bukau, director of the Center for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University (ZMBH). In the course of the next four years, this new research venture will receive funding to the tune of over ten million Euros.
The 17 research projects constituting CRC 1036 focus on the molecular mechanisms of cellular quality control. Despite their complexity, biological processes normally function with incredible precision, says Prof. Bukau. Nevertheless, the underlying processes are subject to occasional errors aggravated by external chemical or physical stress factors. In response to these mishaps, the cells of all organisms have developed efficient networks of surveillance systems operating at the levels of macromolecules, cellular compartments, cells and organs. “These networks minimise and reverse damage caused by process deficiencies and defective molecules”, Prof. Bukau adds.
At the levels of the genome, the transcriptome and the proteome, the Heidelberg research groups involved in CRC 1036 intend to investigate how biological surveillance systems avoid errors and damage and how repair systems detect and handle defects. “A comprehensive understanding of these systems will also give us new insights into the genesis of diseases and the course of the cellular aging process”, Prof. Bukau emphasises. The new Collaborative Research Centre assembles Heidelberg University scientists working in biosciences and medicine, as well as researchers from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. Prof. Bukau heads a cross-departmental group at the DKFZ and is co-director of the DKFZ-ZMBH Alliance.
At present, Heidelberg University receives funding for eight Collaborative Research Centres. In addition, there are five CRC/Transregio with key Heidelberg participation, four of them with coordinators from the university. Alongside CRC 1036, the German Research Foundation has also approved the establishment of CRC/TRR 125 “Cognition-Guided Surgery” starting up on 1 July 2012. Coordinator is the Heidelberg medical scientist Prof. Dr. Markus W. Büchler.Contact
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