The University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) is receiving a new Research Training Group to promote young scientists. The German Research Foundation (DFG) has approved Research Training Group 2771 "Humans and Microbes" and will fund it with around six million euros over the next five years. In addition to the UKE, other Hamburg research institutions are involved; bacterial, viral and parasitic infectious agents are being jointly researched.
"Infectious diseases are responsible for around 20 per cent of all deaths and, as the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic shows, can endanger public health and economic stability worldwide. A fundamental understanding of the interaction between host cell and pathogen, down to the molecular level, is crucial for the discovery and development of new diagnostic, prevention and treatment strategies. With the Research Training Group approved by the DFG, we as UKE can advance infection research together with our Hamburg partners. We are very pleased about this," says Prof. Dr. Blanche Schwappach-Pignataro, Dean of the Medical Faculty and UKE Board Member.
The spokesperson for the new Research Training Group will be Prof. Dr. Martin Aepfelbacher, Head of the Institute of Medical Microbiology, Virology and Hygiene. "We combine two specific goals with the new research training group: on the one hand, we want to discover new interactions between infectious agents and infected organisms on a basic science level, and on the other hand, we want to train doctoral students in cutting-edge technologies for investigating these interactions," says Prof. Aepfelbacher. Within the Faculty of Medicine, the new research training group is part of the research focus Inflammation, Infection and Immunity (C3i). The research work will be carried out in particular in the new research building Campus Research II, which is currently under construction.
Other Hamburg research institutions involved
Other Hamburg faculties and research institutions are also involved: From the University of Hamburg, these are the faculties of mathematics, computer science and natural sciences, plus the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM), the Leibniz Institute for Virology (LIV, formerly HPI) and the Centre for Structural Systems Biology (CSSB) on the Science City Bahrenfeld campus. "The cooperation with modern technology centres in the metropolitan region enables us, for example, to jointly research pathogen-associated intracellular transport in host cells with unprecedented temporal and spatial resolution," says Prof. Aepfelbacher. The Pasteur Institute in Paris is also involved.
Research Training Groups are university institutions for strengthening young scientists and are funded by the DFG for a maximum of nine years. The focus is on the qualification of doctoral students within the framework of a thematically focused research programme and a structured qualification concept. The aim is to intensively prepare doctoral researchers for the complex job market of science, while at the same time supporting their early scientific independence. "In the long term, the new Research Training Group at the UKE will provide young scientists with a modern portfolio for future molecular infection research in academia or industry," says Prof. Aepfelbacher.