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Collaborative Research Center 1213 - Pulmonary Hypertension and Cor Pulmonale

Heart and lung diseases are the leading causes of death and represent the highest socio-economic burden of all diseases worldwide. Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a progressive disease of multifactorial etiology with poor prognosis, which affects up to 100 million people worldwide in its various subtypes. It is characterized by pathological inward remodeling and loss of patency of the lung vasculature. Being challenged with increased afterload, the right ventricle (RV) initially responds to PH with a beneficial "adaptive" hypertrophy, which is, however, often rapidly followed by "maladaptive" changes leading to right heart decompensation and failure, the ultimate cause of death in PH (cor pulmonale).

 

This Collaborative Research Center combines basic science approaches and bedside clinical research in a highly interactive network to elucidate the pathogenic sequelae underlying PH and cor pulmonale and to evaluate novel treatment concepts. We are pursuing an integrated concept to understand the common pathophysiological processes and molecular mechanisms that underlie structural pulmonary vascular abnormalities as well as RV adaptation and maladaptation in PH. Prevention of the progression from RV adaptation to maladaptation may open new ways to prevent death from PH. Our aim is to reverse remodeling events to regain physiological lung vascular structure and function and to develop RV-focused treatment concepts currently not available.

 

The proposal has a strong translational orientation: its projects span the entire research spectrum from genetic/epigenetic signatures, molecular pathway mapping, cell and developmental biology, preclinical disease models, and in vivo molecular imaging, to clinical trials and registries/patient cohorts as well as extensive biobanking. The CRC Faculty has made several groundbreaking contributions to lung vascular and cardiac research, as evidenced by top ranking publications, by the coordination of large national and international research consortia and by the translation of several key findings into clinical use and exploitation. Although several measures are already in place and regularly applied, further efforts will be spent to support career development of young basic and clinician scientists, as well as gender equality and compatibility of family and career as part of the CRC concept.