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EU promotes lung research at the Max Planck Institute in Bad Nauheim

News 2-2020 EN

Soni Savai Pullamsetti Receives 2 Million Euro Research Grant from the European Research Council

Soni Savai Pullamsetti, lung researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research (MPI) in Bad Nauheim receives one of the prestigious "Consolidator Grants" from the European Research Council (ERC) of the European Union. Over the next five years, the ERC will provide the scientist with two million Euro for her research on pulmonary hypertension. With the consolidator program, the EU claims to "promote excellent scientists whose independent working group is in the consolidation phase."

The Max Planck scientist is mainly interested in a lung and heart disease called pulmonary hypertension. So far, the pulmonary hypertension disease is not curable due to lack of therapies. Pulmonary arteries are the key factors in this disease. Cells in their vascular wall are chronically activated and proliferate. As a result, the wall thickens, at the same time reduces the vessel diameter. This causes an increase in blood pressure in the pulmonary vessels.

Pullamsetti wants to use the EU funds to look for options in which the activated vascular wall cells can be influenced in a way that progression of the disease could be stopped or even reversed. She builds on the hypothesis that during development of pulmonary hypertension molecular processes take place that were already active during embryonic development. "In the context of pulmonary hypertension, a whole range of developmental genes are active”, says Pullamsetti. “These form a network and influence each other. We want to use the EU funds to decode these gene networks. Our hope is that if we better understand the underlying molecular processes, we will find attachment to novel therapies. But we will also look for new biomarkers that could better diagnose the disease."

The Indian-born researcher came to Germany in 2002 and received her doctorate in Gießen. Since 2009, she has been the head of a laboratory in the department of Lung Development and Remodeling at the Bad Nauheim Max Planck Institute, which is led by Werner Seeger. In addition, Pullamsetti is an associate member of the Department of Internal Medicine of Justus Liebig University in Giessen. The Bad Nauheim lung researcher can already look back on a successful career: in addition to more than 80 publications in high-ranking journals such as Nature Medicine and Science Translational Medicine, she has already received several research awards from various scientific societies.

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