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Press release


Charité Gains New Collaborative Research Center for Diagnostic Imaging

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Charité celebrates success of four DFG proposals

At yesterday’s meeting of the German Research Foundation's (DFG) review panel, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin convinced the reviewers with all four of its proposals. 

“We are extremely pleased to be able to establish Germany’s first Collaborative Research Center for Diagnostic Radiology, and to act as the lead institution in this project. It is a remarkable achievement,” says Prof. Dr. Axel Radlach Pries, the Dean of Charité. He adds: “We were also successful in our bids for two new Collaborative Research Centers with Charité involvement and secured the extension of an existing Collaborative Research Center. These funding approvals are a testament to the quality of the applicants, and they will allow us to further develop and strengthen our translational research endeavors.”

Collaborative Research Center SFB 1340: ‘In vivo visualization of pathological changes in the extracellular matrix – Matrix in Vision’

  • Lead institution: Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
  • Participating partners: Freie Universität Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, Max Planck-Institute for Colloids and Interfaces, Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM),The National Metrology Institute of Germany (PTB) 
  • Funding amount: Approx. €11.5 million

The new ‘Matrix in Vision’ Collaborative Research Center (SFB) will investigate the use of diagnostic imaging technology to visualize pathological changes within the extracellular matrix – which is the substance that provides structural support to the body’s cells. New insights may contribute to the early detection of diseases and to an improved monitoring of therapies.

The extracellular matrix is an intricate network of different components. Aside from providing structural support to tissues, it also has an important role in the regulation of cellular processes. Almost all diseases are accompanied by specific changes at the cellular level. New research findings indicate that the extracellular matrix also undergoes characteristic changes, including changes that occur very early in the disease process.

Explaining the details of the research, Prof. Dr. Bernd Hamm, Head of Charité’s Department of Radiology, says: “We will be using two different approaches. One is ‘elastography’, a medical imaging technique sensitive to tissue elasticity, which we will use to visualize changes in the mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix. The other one is molecular imaging, which we will use to visualize specific biochemical signatures associated with alterations of the extracellular matrix.”

Collaborative Research Center SFB 1315: ‘Mechanisms and disturbances in memory consolidation: from the synaptic level to the system level’ 

  • Lead institution: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin 
  • Participating partners: Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, Universitätsmedizin Greifswald, Goethe University Frankfurt. 
  • Funding amount: approx. €10.9 million

How does long-term memory work? That is the key question at the heart of the new Collaborative Research Center SFB 1315. Memory makes us who we are as humans; however, memory is also a complex set of processes that can be understood on many levels from basic storage mechanisms to large-scale cognitive processing. This is where the SFB 1315 comes in. Its aim is to describe and understand memory as a whole from the basic processes right up to human cognition – in other words, to generate a theory of memory. In particular, the SFB 1315 will focus on how memories are consolidated over time. In addition, the team of researchers seek to learn how to influence and even enhance memory formation. It is hoped this will lead to new treatment methods for disorders that remain virtually untreatable (such as, for instance, Alzheimer's disease).

“The task of locating memories inside the brain’s complex circuitry will require the input of many different research groups, using a range of different approaches on a number of different levels,” says the project’s spokesperson, Prof. Dr. Matthew Larkum, Professor for Neuronal Plasticity at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and group leader at Charité’s NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence. Therefore, the Collaborative Research Center will be pursuing basic research projects as well as clinical research projects involving patients.

Transregional Collaborative Research Center SFB-TR 241: ‘Immune-epithelial communication in inflammatory bowel diseases’

  • Lead institution: Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg 
  • Participating partners: Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Co-lead institution), Deutsches Rheuma-Forschungszentrum
  • Funding amount: approx. €13 million

The aim of this newly established Transregional Collaborative Research Center is to study the development of, and potential treatment strategies for, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. One particular focus will be the interplay between the intestinal barrier and the innate immunity of the intestinal epithelium.

Regarding the background of the project, the project’s co-spokesperson, Prof. Dr. Britta Siegmund, Head of Charité’s Medical Department, Division of Gastroenterology, Infectiology and Rheumatology, explains: “Approximately 400,000 people in Germany are affected by inflammatory bowel diseases. These often have a major impact on a person’s quality of life and life plans. The aim of this collaborative research endeavor is to gain a better understanding of how these diseases develop and progress over time. Using translational approaches, we will use this information to develop new diagnostic and treatment methods.” This aim is also reflected in the nature of the projects which form part of the first funding period. These include basic research projects, translational approaches and clinical studies.

Transregional Collaborative Research Center SFB-TR 84: ‘Innate immunity of the lung: mechanisms of pathogen attack and host defence in pneumonia’

  • Lead institution: Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
  • Participating partners: Freie Universität Berlin, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Genetics, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, The Robert Koch Institute
  • Funding amount: approx. €11 million

This Transregional Collaborative Research Center has succeeded in securing its third round of funding, meaning that work on its important projects can continue.

Pneumonia is a very common disease. One in three patients with pneumonia will have to be admitted to hospital. Despite the best treatments modern medicine has to offer, approximately 13 percent of admitted patients admitted to hospital will die. This mortality rate has remained unchanged for 70 years, meaning that, in Germany, community acquired pneumonia accounts for approximately 30,000 deaths a year. “Over the past eight years, our Collaborative Research Center has produced new and important insights into the disease, and a growing understanding of the ways in which bacteria and viruses can damage the lungs,” explains the project’s lead researcher, Prof. Dr. Norbert Suttorp, Head of Charité’s Department of Infectious Disease and Respiratory Medicine. He adds: “We will study new treatment methods which are aimed at supporting the lungs’ immunity. These are intended to minimize the damage caused by the disease while at the same time eliminating the pathogens causing the illness. We have also started to develop new immunization strategies against particularly important lung pathogens.


Prof. Dr. Bernd Hamm
Head of the Department of Radiology
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 527 082

Prof. Dr. Matthew Larkum
NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 539 117

Prof. Dr. Britta Siegmund
Head of the Medical Department, Division of Gastroenterology, Infectiology and Rheumatology
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 514 342

Prof. Dr. Norbert Suttorp
Head of the Department of Infectious Disease and Respiratory Medicine
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 553 051

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