Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne

How and why cells die: German Research Foundation awards University of Cologne with a new CRC 1403


Third-party project "Cell death in immunity, inflammations and diseases" (CRC 1403) funded with 13 million euros for four years


Manolis Pasparakis

Hamid Kashkar

The University of Cologne has acquired another Collaborative Research Centre from the German Research Foundation. The SFB 1403 "Cell death in immunity, inflammations and diseases" pursues a multi- and interdisciplinary approach to address open questions in cell death research.

The speakers are Professor Dr. Manolis Pasparakis from the Institute of Genetics affiliated with CECAD and the Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne at the University of Cologne and Prof. Dr. Hamid Kashkar (deputy speaker) from the Institute of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Hygiene affiliated with CECAD and the Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne at the University of Cologne.

In addition to genetics, biochemistry, botany, dermatology, internal medicine, medical microbiology, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research and Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing from Cologne are involved in a total of 17 subprojects as well as partners at the Universities of Bonn and LMU Munich and at Forschungszentrum Jülich. The SFB will initially be funded for a period of four years with a total of around 13 million euros, including a programme overhead.

Cell death is a fundamental biological process that is crucial to maintaining the functions of tissue. Cell death, for example, plays a role when animal and plant tissues come into contact with pathogens and fend them off. Recent research has shown that cells can choose between different types of regulated cell death. The choice of death affects the surrounding tissue and induces a corresponding reaction from neighbouring cells.

"It can therefore be said that one cell with its planned death has a decisive influence on the rest of the living tissue. What is still unclear, however, is how the decisions for one or the other cell death are communicated from cell to cell," said Professor Pasparakis. "We are only now beginning to understand the physiological and pathological roles of cell death types and how they are linked. This basic knowledge will be valuable for the understanding and therapy of many diseases in which the control of cell death has gone off course."

The aim of the CRC 1403 is to understand the regulatory mechanisms as well as the physiological and pathological consequences of different types of cell death in the organism. The focus is on immunity, inflammation and host-microbe interaction.

Pasparakis: "What makes our new CRC so special is that we investigate cell death mechanisms both in plant cells and in animal cells, because the University of Cologne combines outstanding expertise on both sides with the Cluster of Excellence CEPLAS for plant research and the Cluster of Excellence CECAD for aging research".

Scientific contact:            
Prof. Dr. Manolis Pasparakis (Speaker)
Institut für Genetik

Prof. Dr. Hamid Kashkar (co-speaker)
Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie, Immunologie und Hygiene 

Modified press relase by Dr. Debora Grosskopf-Kroiher | CMMC -
Original press relase by Peter Kohl | CECAD Press and Communications -