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 Research Report


Interdisciplinary Centre for Clinical Research Leipzig

Main research themes

Division A: Rheumatology and Immunology

Division B: Endocrinology and Vascular Biology

Division C: Neurosciences

Interdisciplinary Centre for Clinical Research Leipzig
Role of Cell-Cell- and Cell-Matrix Interactions for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Strategies

Speaker Professor Dr. Frank Emmrich

Fakulty of Medicine
Institute of Clinical Immunology and Transfusion Medicine

Johannisallee 30 a, 04103 Leipzig
(03 41) 97 15 940
(03 41) 97 15 949

The Interdisciplinary Centre for Clinical Research was founded in 1996 as part of a government initiative "Health Research 2000" implemented by the Ministry for Education, Science, and Research (BMBF). Eight such centres were set up in total, the IZKF Leipzig being the only one in the former eastern part of Germany. The initial phase of funding ran for three years (1996 - 1998) on a total investment of 14 million DM. The entire programme is intended to run up to and beyond a period of 8 years with a total investment of 56 million DM. The scientific achievements to Sept 1998 were rated "very good" by an external review committee, and funding was approved for the following 2 year period. This enabled both the continuation of projects set up during the initial period, and the initiation of new research ventures.

The Interdisciplinary Centre for Clinical Research is a central research instrument of the University of Leipzig's Faculty of Medicine, offering research opportunities to over 60 scientists. It is the common aim of the Medical Faculty and the IZKF to develop exemplary links between preclinical and clinical research and practice. This is served by concentration on three major research areas, and by the establishment of new blood research groups. The services of an independent management office integrated within the University administration enables the rapid and effective deployment of research funds.

The main purposes of the IZKF Leipzig include:

  • To establish an efficient and powerful structure for clinical research encompassing different disciplines
  • To develop an internationally competitive, characteristic research profile
  • To support the new generation of researchers

The IZKF Leipzig has three main research themes:

  • Division A: Rheumatology and Immunology
  • Division B: Endocrinology and Vascular Biology
  • Division C: Neurosciences

In addition, Division Z (Central Project Groups) comprises core-units for the provision of services, cross-disciplinary groups for the development of key areas, and the aforementioned new blood research groups with independent group leaders.

Rheumatology and Immunology

Division A: Rheumatology and Immunology
Co-ordinator Prof. Dr. Frank Emmrich

Here, the main emphasis lies in the analysis and characterisation of inflammatory tissues, and in determining the pathogenic links to the inflammatory and degenerative diseases of connective tissue. Exemplary diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis are used to study the basic mechanisms of cellular dysregulation. Of particular interest are the receptor-mediated cell-matrix and cell-cell interactions between the connective tissue, the haemopoietic system and the immune system, and the consequences for cellular activation and gene expression. A number of the projects are concerned with the induction of immune tolerance. Our overall aims in this area are to enable substantial improvements in diagnostic procedures, and the development of new therapeutic strategies using both conventional and recombinant antibodies together with gene transfer techniques.


Establishment and characterisation of a receptor-transgenic mouse model for the in vivo assessment of anti-human CD4 antibody therapies
Prof. Dr. F. Emmrich, Dr. R. Laub

Modulation of the decisive elements of pathogenesis in human-murine SCID arthritis
Dr. U. Sack

Gliadine peptides as inducers of intestinal protein tolerance
Prof. Dr. Th. Mothes

Analysis of the early changes in cartilage matrix using high resolution NMR microscopy
PD Dr. Th. Gründer

Molecular cytogenetic studies of synovial fibroblasts
Prof. Dr. U. Froster

The control of interleukin 3 expression as the basis for cytokine-mediated cell-cell communication
Dr. K. Engeland

Analysis of the physiological and pathological roles of interleukin 6 signal transduction using conditional transgenic mouse models
Prof. Dr. F. Horn

Influence of TNF-inhibition on CD4+ T cell clones in rheumatoid arthritis
Dr. U. Wagner

Tolerance induction in Type I diabetes
PD Dr. T. Lohmann

Endocrinology and Vascular Biology

Division B - Endocrinology and Vascular Biology
Co-ordinator: Prof. Dr. Ralf Paschke

The projects are molecular biology-orientated and approach mechanisms of endocrinological signal transduction. Three of the projects concern aspects of receptor-mediated signal transduction using the examples of TSH (thyroid-stimulating-hormone) receptor and insulin-related receptor. The aims of these projects are the identification of the ligand for insulin-related receptors, the establishment of a novel transgenic mouse model of hyperthyroidism, and characterisation of the mechanism of TSH receptor desensitisation. An additional project studies the action of chemokines and adhesion molecules on the recruitment and function of leukocytes during ovulation.


Resident leukocytes in the rat ovary and in human pre-ovulatory follicles
Prof. Dr. K. Spanel-Borowski

Establishment and characterisation of a transgenic mouse model of hyperthyroidism through expression of constitutively active mutants of the thyroid-stimulating-hormone-receptor
Dr. K. Krohn

Identification of the ligand for the insulin-related-receptor
Prof. Dr. W. Kiess

Studies on the mechanisms of desentitisation of the thyroid stimulating hormone receptor
Dr. H.-P. Holzapfel

In vivo and in vitro studies of the peripheral effects of Leptin
Dr. J. Kratzsch


Division C - Neurosciences
Co-ordinator: Prof. Dr. D. Yves von Cramon

The projects of the neuroscience division are concerned mainly with aspects of the neuro-degenerative diseases associated with dementia (Alzheimers disease, Parkinsons disease), as well as basic neuro/cell biological properties of both normal and pathological cell-cell interactions in the nervous system. Particular emphasis is placed on the issues of reduced neuro-regenerative capacity, and the role of energy and carbohydrate metabolism in the pathogenesis of Alzheimers disease. In conjunction with epidemiological, geronto-psychiatric, and cognition-psychological studies of the demential diseases of the elderly, the results of studies within this division are intended to lead to more objective diagnoses in the early stages of disease, enable prognoses to be forecast on a more sound scientific basis, and indicate novel therapeutic approaches to the pharmacological treatment of disturbances in brain metabolism.


Molecular mechanisms of reduced regenerative capacity in Alzheimers disease
Prof. Dr. Th. Arendt

Modification of the glial-neuronal interactions in mammalian retina
Prof. Dr. A. Reichenbach

Mechanisms of glial-neuronal interactions in the control of carbohydrate and energy metabolism, and role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimers dementia
Prof. Dr. K. Eschrich

Epidemiology and determinants of demential disease in the elderly
Prof. Dr. M. C. Angermeyer

Neurobiology and prognosis of mild cognitive disorders in the elderly
Prof. Dr. H.-J. Gertz

Cognitive disorders in Parkinsons disease
Prof. Dr. D. Y. von Cramon

Gene therapy of neurodegenerative diseases using lentivirus vectors
Prof. Dr. K. Überla

Retinal and choroidal endothelial cells: the influence of growth factors and nucleoside analogues under hypoxia and limiting glucose
Prof. Dr. K. Nieber

Central Project Groups

Division Z - Central Project Groups
Co-ordinator: Michael Cross, PhD


New Blood Research Group - Neuroimmunology cellbiology
PD Dr. G. Münch

New Blood Research Group - Molecular Medicine
M. A. Cross PhD

C. Borchers

Core Unit B - DNA Sequencing
Dr. K. Krohn

Core Unit C - Peptide libraries
Dr. E. Fiedler

Cross-Disciplinary Group - Clinical NMR Spectroscopy
Dr. Th. Riemer

Cross-Disciplinary Group - Advanced Microscopy
Prof. Dr. A. Reichenbach, Dr. U. Sack

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