Malfunction of blood vessels plays a central role in many diseases. So far, research and therapy have mainly focused on the larger blood vessels, particularly the arteries. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that disorders in small blood vessels play a particularly important role in the development of disease and the resulting organ damage. Examples include vascular dementia, diastolic heart failure, kidney failure and angina pectoris. Recent findings also show the importance of (micro) vascular mechanisms in immune response and inflammation.
In order to address the deficit in translational approaches in this area, the Berlin Center for Translational Vascular Biomedicine (VasBioBerlin) integrates research activities at three major life science institutions - the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), the Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Under the roof of a new research building, the Käthe-Beutler-Haus on the Buch campus, a unique translational focus is created under the joint control of basic researchers and clinicians. The aim is to decipher the local and systemic causes of vascular malfunctions so that clinical manifestations can be treated. Interdisciplinary teams work in a bottom-up approach on central issues to address the most important clinical challenges in the personalized diagnosis and treatment of vascular disease. For this purpose, cohort studies, and research on humanized disease models, as well as computer-aided modelling approaches, are combined to develop new approaches for prevention, diagnosis and therapy. Three main goals of VasBioBerlin have been defined by the community:
- Define and Treat Endothelial Dysfunction & Inflammation
- Reverse Vascular Remodeling to Improve Organ Function
- Build and Instrumentalize Vascularized Organoids
The Core Faculty of the Center currently includes Prof. Holger Gerhardt (MDC, Integrative Vascular Biology) and Prof. Michael Potente (BIH, Angiogenesis & Metabolism). Though the Center is expanding its research activities through targeted recruitment of leading international experts.
Furthermore, the Center is financially supporting collaborative and innovative projects implementing translational pipelines that bridge basic and clinical science in vascular biomedicine. VasBioBerlin does not only provide seed funding but also supports high-risk/high-gain projects. During the first project call in June/July 2020, the Center received 27 eligible applications from researchers and clinician scientists from BIH/Charité/MDC, which were evaluated by the Center’s External Sounding Board. Based on the evaluations, the Steering Committee selected 10 projects to be funded for a two-year period.
The following projects have been selected during the first project call:
|Project Titel||Project Lead||Project Partners|
|Circulating endothelial cells as a tool to determine pneumonia patients at risk of acquiring cardiovascular diseases||Ulrich Kertzscher (Charité)||Martin Witzenrath (Charité), Norbert Hübner (MDC)|
|Clonal hematopoiesis and ischemic stroke||Matthias Endres (Charité)||Frederik Damm (Charité), Paulina Strzelecka (Charité), Cristopher Arends (Charité), Thomas Liman (Charité)|
|Deciphering physiological mechanisms of reverse pulmonary vascular remodeling in pulmonary hypertension||Christoph Knosalla (Charité)||Wolfgang Kübler (Charité), Norbert Hübner (MDC), Mariya M. Kucherenko (DZHB, Charité)|
|Expanding the application of retinal blood vessel analysis||Hanna Zimmermann (ECRC)||Oliver Zeitz (Charité), Martin Witzenrath (Charité), Oliver Peters (ECRC), Kristin Kräker (ECRC), Ralf Dechend (ECRC), Friedemann Paul (ECRC), Anja Mähler (ECRC), Stefanie Märschenz (NCRC), Sein Schmidt (Charité)|
|Gut microbiota related determinants of disease severity, risk of vascular events and clinical outcome in Covid-19||Arash Haghikia (Charité)||Sofia Forslund (MDC), Andras Balogh (MDC), Jennifer Kirwan (MDC, BIH)|
|Mapping the renal vascular endothelium in health and acute kidney injury||Christian Hinze (Charité, MDC)||Kai Schmidt-Ott (Charité), Philipp Enghard (Charité), Nikolaus Rajewsky (MDC-BIMSB), Kai-Uwe Eckardt (Charité), Sebastian Bachmann (Charité), Birgit Rudolph (Charité), Jonas Busch (Charité)|
|Post-preeclampsia - common mechanisms in microvascular dysfunction cause for cardiovascular and retinal end organ damage||Ralf Dechend (ECRC)||Dagmar Kainmüller (BIH, MDC), Kristin Kräker (ECRC), Nadine Reichhart (Charité), Olaf Strauß (Charité)|
|T-cell-endothelium interactions in the pathophysiology of coronary- and cellular-therapy-initiated inflammatory disease||Theresa Gerhardt (Charité)||Olaf Penack (Charité)|
|The COVID-19 puzzle – The microvascular barrier as a missing piece between coagulation and organ failure||Wolfgang Kübler (Charité)||Holger Gerhardt (MDC), Philipp Mertins (MDC), Nikolaus Rajewsky (MDC-BIMSB), Martin Witzenrath (Charité), David Koppstein (MDC-BIMSB), Laura Michalick (Charité), Anna Szymborska-Mell (MDC)|
|Translational approach to understand, diagnose and treat vascular malformations||René Hägerling (Charité)||Susanne von der Heydt (Charité)|