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2015|16 Annual Report Fraunhofer IGB

24 HIGHLIGHTS 2015 German Research Foundation (DFG) Research Training Group for infection research in Würzburg, Germany The molecular mechanisms of how microbial pathogens pen- etrate human beings, multiply, and circumvent attack by the immune system still remain unexplained in many ways. The in- vestigation of these questions is the objective of the “3D Tis- sue Models for Studying Microbial Infections by Human Patho- gens” Research Training Group at the University of Würzburg, approved by German Research Foundation (DFG) in November 2015. Together with the Translational Center, the Würzburg branch of Fraunhofer IGB, three-dimensional tissue models produced from human cells will be optimized for the purpose of studying infection mechanisms under conditions approxi- mating physiological conditions. Traditional entry portals for pathogens such as the epidermis, the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, and interior lining of the intestinal and urinary tracts will be the focus of the research. The work will commence in April 2016 and be supported by the DFG with a grant of 5 million euros over the next four years. New Organ-on-a-Chip Attract Group The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft approved a new Attract Group in autumn 2015 that began its work at Fraunhofer IGB March 1, 2016. The head of the group is physicist Dr. Peter Loskill, who was conducting interdisciplinary research at the University of California, Berkeley. His objective is to replicate the smallest functional unit of a tissue or organ in the form of a chip with the help of microfluidic systems in order to be able to test potential pharmacological candidates with high validity at an early stage of their development. In order for the organ-on- a-chip to eventually be employed for high throughput screen- ing, Loskill wants to parallelize and automate the chips. The systems can help minimize animal experiments and reduce the costs of pharmaceutical development. The initial focus will be on in vitro models of myocardial muscle and white adipose tissue obtained from human induced pluripotent stem cells. Since myocardial toxicity is the most frequent cause for pharmaceutical candidates to fail, myocardial tissue plays an important role in the development of medicines. White adipose tissue is especially important not just for purposes of storage, but also in obesity and diabetes, diseases that are occurring with increasing frequency. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is supporting the work with a grant of million euros over five years 2