What happens when the immune system engages in battles with bacteria, fungi, viruses, or foreign substances? Which signalling pathways and signalling components are switched on and how do signal molecules “speak” with one another to guide the immune response? The biochemical reactions that are initiated when an organism detects “danger signals” or “foreign entities” are very complex. In this situation, cells of the immune system become activated, they start to migrate, reorganize their cytoskeleton, and produce various substances with the overall goal of protecting the organism from illness and injury. With combined efforts, scientists of the Institute for Molecular and Clinical Immunology at the Medical Faculty of the Otto-von-Guericke University, Magdeburg and the Department of Immune Control at the Helmholtz Centre for Infectious Disease (HZI) are examining which cells of the immune system interact and, importantly, how they interact with one another.
Prof Dr Burkhart Schraven
“We are attempting to understand the molecular and cellular systems that regulate the immune responses by combining the clinical perspective with that of basic research."
Burkhart Schraven heads the department “Immune Control” at the HZI and in parallel is Director of the Institute for Molecular and Clinical Immunology at the Medical Faculty of the Otto-von-Guericke University, Magdeburg.
He studied medicine at the Universities of Mainz, Bonn, and Bochum and received his doctoral degree with the MD thesis “Establishing in Vitro Systems for the Analysis of T- and B-cell Interaction”. After receiving his post-doctoral lecture qualification (habilitation) for the subject “Immunology” at the Medical Faculty of the University of Heidelberg on the topic “Molecular Analysis of the CD2 Receptor Complex in Human T-Lymphocytes”, he moved to Magdeburg in 2001 to assume the position as Director of the Institute for Immunology. Since 2007, he is the Dean of Research at the Medical Faculty of the Otto-von-Guericke University, Magdeburg and since 2010, he is the spokesman/coordinator of the collaborative DFG Research Grant SFB 854, “Molecular Organisation of Cellular Communication within the Immune System”. The SFB 854 also involves groups from the HZI who head two sub-projects. The HZI and the OVGU are seeking to strengthen their collaboration, which was established in 2002. One pillar of this collaboration is a jointly appointed W2 Professorship “System-Orientated Immunology and Infection Research” (assigned to the department Immune Control) that was installed in 2008. The W2 Professorship is currently filled by Prof. Dr. Ingo Schmitz, PhD, who is working on the molecular mechanisms regulating programmed cell death and autophagy.