Immune Control

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.

Prof Dr Burkhart Schraven

Burkhart Schraven is head of the department „Immune Control“ at the HZI and at the same time director of the „Institute of Molecular and Clinical Immunology“ and chair/full professor of Immunology at the Medical Faculty of the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg (OvGU).

After studying human medicine at the universities of Mainz, Bonn and Bochum he received his doctorate at the University of Mainz. Upon habilitating in immunology at the Medical Faculty of the University of Heidelberg in1997, he moved to Magdeburg in 2001 and took over the directorship of the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Immunology.

Since 2007 Burkhart Schraven is vice-dean for research and faculty board member of the Medical Faculty of the OvGU. Since 2010 he is speaker of the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Centre 854 „Molecular Organisation of cellular communication within the immune system.  Having been succesfully re-evaluated in fall 2017, CRC 854 will commence its third funding period in January 2018. Various HZI groups are part of this consortium in several projects.

In order to strengthen the cooperation between the HZI and the OvGU, which has been established in 2007, a W2-professorship for „Systems-Oriented Immunology and Inflammation Research“ was created and jointly appointed in 2008. This professorship is part of the department Immune Control and is currently held by Ingo Schmitz. It is financed in equal parts by the HZI and the OvGU. The same is true for the W2-professorship „Intravital Microscopy in Infection and Immunity“, which was jointly established in 2013. It is held by Andreas Müller, who successfully procured an ERC Starting Grant in 2016. In 2012, also the HZI-group “Immune regulation”, headed by Dunja Bruder, was added to the department. All three groups of the Immune control department participate in CRC 854 with independent projects. In addition, Dunja Bruder and Ingo Schmitz very succesfully coordinate the research training group RTG 854, which is part of CRC 854.

In 2016, Burkhart Schraven raised funds for a module of the OvGU graduate school ABINEP (Analysis, Imaging, and Modelling of Neuronal and Inflammatory Processes), which is jointy conducted by researchers of the OvGU and the HZI. ABINEP will be completely funded by monies of the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt for its entire duration of 4.5 years. All of the six interdisciplinary, translational PhD projects, which are exclusively addressing clinical-infectiological topics, are supervised jointly by a clinician of the OvGU and a scientist of the HZI. Dunja Bruder and Andreas Müller are coordinating the OvGU-HZI ABINEP module.

In 2013, a research rotation position (Gerok position) for clinical infectiology was established by CRC 854 with a clear aim of strenghtening clinical-translational research at the HZI. The first holder of this position, Dr. Schulz from the Clinical Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Infectiology of the OvGU, very successfully conducted a clinical-infectiological research project in cooperation with the Pieper group at the HZI. For the third funding period of CRC 854, the HZI is again going to fund a clinical-infectiological research position.



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