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(from left to right): Dr. Anna Lena Jung, Prof. Dr. Mareike Lehmann, Prof. Dr. Sven Bogdan, Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dieter Schlüter, Dr. Christin Müller-Ruttloff, Dr. Kenan Steidel, and Dr. Nastasja Merle. Photo by Christian Stein.

One million euros for cutting-edge medical research

News 2024-65 EN

Life-threatening heart and lung diseases, antibiotic resistance in hospital-acquired pathogens, Parkinson's, and coronaviruses - these are the medical challenges that the current research projects of the Von Behring-Röntgen Foundation are addressing.

For the 17th time, the medical foundation is supporting innovative research projects at Philipps University Marburg and Justus Liebig University Giessen. This includes three DZL (German Center for Lung Research) scientists. The beneficiaries can look forward to a total of 1 million euros for six projects. During a ceremony on Wednesday, January 24, 2024, at the foundation's headquarters in Marburg's Landgrave Palace, the board of trustees presented the funding certificates.

"Providing hope for healing is what drives us," emphasized foundation president Dr. Lars Witteck during the congratulatory remarks. "Our support of cutting-edge medicine lays the groundwork for a better future, where health is not just preserved but actively enhanced - a worthwhile investment in the well-being and progress of society."

In January 2024, the promising junior projects of Dr. Nastasja Merle, Professor Dr. Mareike Lehmann, Dr. Christin Müller-Ruttloff, Dr. Anna Lena Jung, and Dr. Kenan Steidel, as well as the collaborative project of Professor Dr. Sven Bogdan and Professor Dr. Klaus-Dieter Schlüter, will commence. Their research projects were selected by a Scientific Advisory Board from 40 proposals submitted for the current funding round of the Von Behring-Röntgen Foundation. The researchers have three years to realize their ambitious goals.

The DZL projects in detail

Lung carcinomas, especially small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC), are difficult to treat and have a poor prognosis. Although SCLC tumors exhibit a wide range of mutations, typically indicating a good response to modern immunotherapies, they remain unsuccessful in most patients. The aim of Dr. Nastasja Merle's project is to pharmacologically influence SCLC cells to make them more recognizable to the immune system by activating the NOTCH signaling pathway. This approach aims to make SCLC tumors more susceptible to immunotherapies to improve the success rate of this form of therapy. The project of the young researcher from Marburg is funded with 199,059 euros.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is an age-related, progressive lung disease with a fatal outcome for which there is currently no cure. Patients experience significant impairment of their lung function and additionally suffer from comorbidities such as heart disease. In her project, Prof. Dr. Mareike Lehmann investigates whether extracellular vesicles generated in the lungs contribute to these comorbidities. In particular, she examines whether these vesicles trigger aging processes in the heart. The aim of her project is to better understand the underlying mechanisms and develop new approaches for the prevention and treatment of IPF and associated comorbidities to improve the quality of life and prognosis of patients. The young researcher from Marburg receives funding of 199,900 euros.

Antibiotic resistance is a serious problem as it undermines the effectiveness of antibiotics in combating infections and can jeopardize global healthcare. In her project, junior researcher Dr. Anna Lena Jung aims to decipher the antibiotic resistance of Klebsiella pneumoniae, a hospital-acquired pathogen that can cause severe pneumonia. Special attention is given to outer membrane vesicles (OMVs), small bubbles released under the influence of antibiotics. The researcher from Marburg investigates how these OMVs influence the development of antibiotic resistance. Her goal is to understand the mechanisms behind the changes in vesicles and find new effective substances against multi-resistant bacteria. The research project, funded with 58,905 euros, aims to contribute to the development of new therapeutic approaches against the increasing antibiotic resistance of Klebsiella pneumoniae and to improve understanding of disease causation.

DZL Engagements