Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne

DFG funds new Research Training Group (RTG) on cardiovascular diseases


The RTG supported by the CMMC investigates common inflammatory processes and cellular reactions to cardiovascular diseases.

Prof. Dr. Stephan Baldus (Chair) and Prof. Dr. Stephan Rosenkranz (Vice Chair) of the new DFG-funded RTG 2407: Inflammatory and cellular stress signaling: Switches to vascular dysfunction. (photo - Uniklinik Köln)

Dysfunction of arterial conductance and resistance vessels remains the leading underlying cause of morbidity and mortality in an aging population. Despite strenuous and concerted research efforts, there are currently still no pharmacological strategies to causally treat vascular dysfunction.

Pathophysiologically, arterial vascular disease has long been considered as a state of adverse structural remodeling within arteries upon accumulation of circulating and vessel wall-derived cells, matrix, and cholesterol – histological hallmarks of atherosclerosis. However, more subtle alterations of vascular homogeneity have emerged as critical pre- requisistes and drivers for a large spectrum of disease. For example, atherosclerosis, heart failure, pulmonary hypertension (PH), kidney disease, and several metabolic disorders all share aberrant molecular and cellular vascular signaling as an underlying cause.
In this regard, inflammatory stressors play a critical role in initiating and orchestrating changes of the vascular cell phenotype. The major aim of the proposed collaborative research training group (RTG) is to identify common vascular stressors and overlapping or redundant cellular signaling responses across a broad range of vascular disease entities.

The Research Training Group 2407/1 with the title „Inflammatory and cellular stress signaling: Switches to vascular dysfunction“ chaired by Professor Dr. Stephan Baldus (Director of the Dept. III for Internal Medicine) and Prof. Dr. Stephan Rosenkranz (Vice Chair and Scientific Coordinator of the CCRC Program) intends to identify disease-directed pharmacological targets, thus opening new channels of drug discovery. The DFG is funding the RTG with a € 3.27 million over a period of four and a half years.

To achieve this translational goal, the GRK  will join ranks between scientists and clinicians in an interdisciplinary approach that transcends traditional boards of medicine and the natural sciences, and will recruit outstanding PhD and MD students to actively pursue cutting-edge research on individual, yet coordinated PhD/MD projects, that are directly related to answering pertaining key questions for specific diseases in this research field.

This initiative will build on an already existing RTG within the recently founded Cologne Cardiovascular Research Center (CCRC) and will be embedded in highly established and successful research groups as well as long-standing structured educational programs at the University of Cologne.
Cooperating partners are the Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne (CMMC), Excellence Cluster CECAD, the Cologne Center for Genomics (CCG), the Max-Planck-Instituts for Aging Research and Metabolism Research.

RTG 2407/1 „Inflammatory and cellular stress signaling: Switches to vascular dysfunction

Prof. Dr. Stephan Baldus (Chair)
Dept. III of Internal Medicine

Prof. Dr.Stephan Rosenkranz (Vice Chair and Scientific Coordinator)
Dept. III of Internal Medicine