Biomedical Science

Joint professorships to foster ZMB development

Two of the four joint professorships established at the ZMB in 2011 – two allocated to the Faculty of Biology, two to the Faculty of Medicine – have now been filled. The aim behind establishing the joint professorships is not only to support ­research at the ZMB, but also for training and ­education within the interdisciplinary Medical Biology degree programme.

The first joint professorship was taken up by Prof. Markus Kaiser. He heads the Department of Chemical Biology in the Faculty of Biology and the ZMB. His group develops bioactive small molecules for performing biomedical basic research or – as a long-term objective – for obtaining novel chemotherapeutic agents.

Since February 2013 Prof. Kaiser’s group has been representing the University of Duisburg-­Essen as the only German university among 30 international partners in the European Lead Factory. This research network of renowned ­European basic research institutions and leading pharma companies is funded by the European Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) with 196 million euros via a public-private partnership for accelerating the translation of basic research results into chemotherapeutic applications.

Prof. Matthias Gunzer took up the second of the joint professorships in the Faculty of Medicine in 2011. He heads the Institute for Experimental Immunology and Imaging as well as the Imaging Center at Essen University Hospital. As joint professor he also has a laboratory at the ZMB on the Essen campus. His research group focuses on characterization of the behavioural dynamics of immune cells. Central topics include mobilization of these cells from the sites of formation, their functional activity, their movement patterns ­under various conditions, and the formation of cell-cell interactions during the immune response in vivo. Highly specialized imaging techniques are used to investigate these topics, such as intravital two-photon microscopy. This technique allows immunological processes to be studied in the living organism and the functions of the immune cells visualized, for example in important organs such as the lymph nodes, bone marrow, brain and lungs. A grant from the State of NRW and the DFG worth 3.2 million euros was secured in 2013, allowing the acquisition of additional ­ultramodern instruments to complete the facilities of the IMCES – Imaging Center Essen. This Core Facility inaugurated on 17 December 2013 offers state-of-the-art microscopy and imaging equipment and expertise and is available to ­collaborating partners in and outside the University. With partners from Tübingen, England, France, Denmark and Switzerland Prof. Gunzer’s group additionally succeeded in raising around 6 million euros in project funding under the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission. The goal of the collaborative project is to develop a new (PET/MR-based) diagnostic technique for invasive Aspergillosis.

Appointments to two additional joint professorships in Biology and Medicine are planned for the near future.