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Prof. Dr. Johanna Bolander

Contact information
Address:BIH Center für Regenerative Therapien
Augustenburger Platz 1

13353 Berlin

Research focus

For this, we use clinical research as indicators for specific patient populations, then study these in detail through mechanistic model systems, and thereafter engineer regenerative therapies within the musculoskeletal field. Our research is mainly focused on studying different aspects of the dynamic process fibrosis, scar tissue formation. Fibrosis is typically initiated by some sort of stress, such as injury, and is the result of failed tissue regeneration that is typically followed by the onset of degenerative diseases.

It is currently not known why certain injuries fail to heal, including those in the synovial joint. One of the most challenging aspects to study this is the lack of a healthy regenerative environment, that can be used as control or baseline. As a result, the failed regenerative environment can mainly be compared to a healthy control environment, leading to a lack of understanding what kind of processes regenerative therapies need to steer. To overcome this, we investigate patient-derived samples to identify the clinical environment in defined patient populations. Next, we use this information in the development of in vitro and in vivo model systems to further study underlying mechanisms and to test our hypothesis. In a final stage, we translate the obtained findings into regenerative therapies to steer failing regenerative environments to functional healing. 

The initial damage in the joint leads to an immediate activation of the innate immune system where pro-inflammatory cells are recruited for phagocytosis and debris removal at the defect site. Next, these cells recruit the pro-regenerative inflammatory cells in order for functional regeneration to occur. It has been suggested that the cellular signaling cascades that steer the balance between the type, polarization and subsequent action of the recruited inflammatory cells regulated the fate of healing. Fibrosis affects the local and systemic immune systems, local tissue-specialized cells and their progenitors, cells from the vascular environment and well as cells from the peripheral nervous system. In addition, mechanical forces are potentially playing a crucial role in both the initiation and progression of finrosis. Since organ functions as local systems under regulation by the central and peripheral nervous system and vasculature, we are targeting our research efforts to understand how these interactions function during homeostasis and disease.



Hadeel Al-awar

Hadeel Al-awar

Bachelor Thesis Student from TU Berlin

Hadeel comes from Syria and is currently studying biotechnology at the Technical University in Berlin. She is currently doing an internship at the BIH Charité and will be writing her Bachelor's thesis in the field of medical biotechnology. At the same time, she is a mom of a wonderful daughter and try to enjoy the fun in both directions of life.

Vartan Kazezian

Vartan Kazezian

PhD student

Vartan comes from the USA (Southern California) and has a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Biochemistry. He is a PhD candidate exploring the impact of oxidative stress in the development of post-traumatic Osteoarthritis. When not found in the lab, he’s often at museums and galleries, going to see live music, and travelling.

Aditya Rakesh Kombra

Aditya Rakesh Kombra (Kobra)

Technical Assistant

Kobra is a graduate in biotechnological engineering, organismic and evolutionary biology and palaeontology. He organizes and manage the lab on a daily basis. When Kobra is not in the lab raising cells, he enjoys cooking or reading. Music consumes the remainder of Kobra's time as he plays the cello and the veena.

Brenda Mwangi

Brenda Mwangi 

Bachelor Thesis Student from University of Camerino, Italy

Brenda is originally from Kenya but currently studying in Italy for her bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology. Her current focus is diving into the fascinating world of regenerative therapies, while simultaneously writing her thesis at Charité as part of an Erasmus program. A fun fact about Brenda is that she is currently obsessed with a YouTube channel called Pasta Grannies. It’s dedicated to showcasing authentic Italian grannies and their incredible pasta recipes. Watching their creativity unfold is pure joy, and each granny insists that her pasta is the absolute best!

Emely Rosenow

Emely Rosenow

PhD student

Emely holds a Master’s degree in Biotechnology with a specialization in Medical Biotechnology from the Technical University of Berlin. Within her studies and previous research endeavours, she gained experience in the development of in vitro models in various fields. As a PhD candidate, her research project focuses on the role of the synovial membrane in the initiation of post-traumatic osteoarthritis.