Profil of the Research Training Group (GRK) and innovations at the GRK1172/2

At the GRK1172, a number of internationally renowned scientists are working to develop innovative biopharmceuticals.

Examples of outstanding academic research for new therapies are:

  • innovative stem cell therapy (Cardiology: Dimmeler/Zeiher, paediatric haematology: Klingebiel/Köhl) with the associated GMP laboratory (Seifried/Tonn)
  • cellular immune therapy (Georg-Speyer-Haus (GSH): Wels, Blood Donor Service: Tonn/Seifried, paediatric hospital: Klingebiel/Kohl)
  • Viro- and gene therapy (GSH: Grez, Laer; Paul-Ehrlich-Institute: Cichutek, Buchholz, Schweizer, Schnierle)
  • Immune modulatory therapies (pharmazentrum frankfurt: Pfeilschifter/Eberhardt, Radeke, Schaefer, Frank, Mühl)
  • RNA therapeutics (faculty of Biological Sciences: Süß; Cardiology: Dimmeler; pharmazentrum frankfurt: Pfeilschifter/Eberhardt, Geisslinger, Niederberger)

For the selection of projects and working groups participating in the GRK1172/2 (the second funding period) the scientific excellence in research was the most important criterion. Moreover, attention was paid to include in the GRK1172 representative research projects for all biotechnological drug classes as well as all phases of drug development, from drug discovery, via preclinical pharmacology and toxicology to early clinical trials (see table: structure of the GRK).
For these projects, highly qualified and talented PhD students with an interest in translational biomedical research were selected and integrated in the common research and training programme of the GRK1172.

The regular advice and supervision by the Thesis Committee (consisting of three senior scientists) as well as the manifold discussions with experienced researchers at the Summer and Winter School, at guest scientist seminars, at scientific meetings and also at research stays in partner laboratories guarantee an optimal support of the PhD projects and the training of PhD students in critical and creative scientific thinking.

The qualification at the GRK1172 opens up a variety of career options, such as in academia, the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, and also in the drug approval and drug safety. The GRK1172 deliberately does not educate highly specialised academic researchers, but wishes to train scientists and physicians who can advance in interdisciplinary networks translational biomedicine at many different positions in society.

The following innovations are planned in the structure of the GRK1172/2:

In the first 3½ years of the GRK1172/1 (the first funding period) the scientific programme, the oragnisational structure, the qualification programme, the supervisory structure and the quality management were repeatedly adjusted and optimised. Now, the main aim is to stabilise the already reached gaols.

In the near future, the GRK1172, together with the research training group 757 “Roles of Eicosanoids in Biology and Medicine”, will promote the integration of existing graduate programmes in medicine and the natural sciences within the Frankfurt Graduate Centre FIRST. They will form a key element of FIRST (Frankfurt International Research School for Translational Biomedicine) through know-how and experience in the optimal qualification of graduates.

The number of research stays abroad by GRK PhD students shall be increased by improved information strategies and individual advice.

The following innovations are planned in the research programme:
By integration of the GRK1172 in the „Frankfurt International Research School for Translational Biomedicine (FIRST)“, fewer projects to identify new drug targets will be carried out in the future. These projects are not specific for biopharmaceuticals and will be increasingly integrated in other, indication-specific divisions of FIRST (such as Inflammation, Cardiovascular Diseases, Cancer).

The topic of RNA-targets/RNA drugs as seminal focus has been strengthened at the GRK1172 (si RNA, riboswitch, antisense RNA, micro-RNA, antagomirs).

Three additional classes of drugs have been included:
proteoglycans (biglycan), complex natural compounds and oncolytic viruses.

Junior researcher groups shall be increasingly integrated into the GRK1172. A number of scientists who have jointly supervised with a professor a project in the first funding period (2005-2009), now lead their own research groups and therefore are independent in the current funding period.
These are: Christian Buchholz, Barbara Schnierle (both Paul-Ehrlich-Institute), Martin Zörnig (Georg-Speyer-Haus), Heiko Mühl and Ellen Niederberger (both pharmazentrum frankfurt, faculty of Medicine).

New professors and young researchers have been included to strengthen the are of RNA research and to integrate new drug classes:

  • Bernhard Brune (Biochemistry I, faculty of Medicine), natural drug substances
  • Liliana Schaefer (pharmazentrum frankfurt, faculty of Medicine), biglykane
  • Stefanie Dimmeler (Cardiology, faculty of Medicine), RNA, Antagomire
  • newly appointed endowed professorship: Beatrix Suess (faculty of Biological Sciences), Riboswitch