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Successful CRC proposals

May 2019. Goethe University and TU Munich have jointly won funding for a new DFG-funded Collaborative Research Centre (CRC), which will receive approximately € 11 million in funding from the German Research Foundation over the next four years. An additional CRC on RNA research, the CRC 902, will be extended for another four years. The funding of two powerful research collaborations underlines the excellent work in the field of RNA research at Goethe University. In addition, scientists from Goethe University participate in the successful proposal for a CRC in lung cancer research led by the University of Cologne.

Ribonucleic acids (RNAs) were long considered merely messenger molecules that code genetic information for the synthesis of proteins. Today, however, it is known that over 90 percent of RNA molecules carry out an astonishing variety of other tasks. Many of them regulate processes within the cell (siRNA, miRNA and sRNA) while others create fascinating three-dimensional structures and serve as enzymes of switches for cellular processes. Non-coding RNAs play a significant role in cardiovascular diseases.

The new trans-regional CRC “Non-coding RNA in the cardiovascular system” will be coordinated by Stefanie Dimmeler from the Institute for Cardiovascular Regeneration at Goethe University Frankfurt and Stefan Engelhardt from the Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology at TU Munich. The consortium of 30 scientists will investigate how non-coding RNAs are created and transported in the cardiovascular system. The scientists will also study how non-coding RNAs influence cellular processes and how they affect the onset and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. The long term aim is to find new target molecules for medical drugs. Additional partners in this CRC are Ludwig-Maximilian’s University in Munich, the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research and Hannover Medical School.

The CRC 902 “Molecular principles of RNA-based regulation”, headed by Harald Schwalbe from the Institute for Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Goethe University Frankfurt, focuses on the structure and function of different RNA variants in biology and chemistry. The consortium of Goethe University and TU Darmstadt scientists is particularly interested in how RNAs regulate gene expression. During its first two funding periods, the CRC 902 established diverse spectroscopic methods to decode the structure of the complex RNA macromolecules. These methods are now to be transferred from in vitro systems (i.e. prepared molecules in test tubes) to living systems (in vivo), thus providing important new insights into the function of different RNA variants in living cells.

Stefanie Dimmeler and Harald Schwalbe agree: “The continuing funding of RNA research in Frankfurt will help Goethe University bolster its status as pioneer in this field.”

Stefan Knapp from the Buchmann Institut for Molecular Life Sciences and Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Goethe University is a partner of a new CRC that will investigate the mechanismen of drug sensitivity and resistance in small-cell lung carcinoma. This CRC is headed by Roman Thomas from Cologne University and will stduy this cancer at the molecular level in order to help to improve the chances of treatment success. Small-cell lung carcinoma is the most aggressive subtype of lung cancer and little is known about the causes of the high relapse rates associated with this cancer.


Stefanie Dimmeler, Institute of Cardiovascular Regeneration, Niederrad Campus, dimmeler@em.uni-frankfurt.de

Harald Schwalbe, Institute of Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Riedberg Campus,  schwalbe@nmr.uni-frankfurt.de

Stefan Knapp, Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences and Institute for Pharmaceutical Chemsitry, Riedberg Campus, knapp@pharmchem.uni-frankfurt.de

Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt/Main, Germany