Involved Helmholtz Centers

The Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health (HMGU) aims to contribute significantly to a better understanding of major non-communicable common diseases, most notably diabetes and its aging-associated complications. The overall goal of HMGU’s research is to elucidate the complex disease causes and to develop innovative approaches for their precise diagnosis, prevention and therapy. This will be achieved by long-term translational research reaching from molecular mechanisms to patients and back. The Center’s large-scale research infrastructures are nationally and internationally well recognized and connected. Among others, they encompass population-based Cooperative Health Research in the Augsburg Region (KORA) cohort and the German Mouse Clinic (GMC) within the European INFRAFRONTIER initiative, both of which are incorporated into AMPro research. Direct access to patients is currently realized via the Diabetes Study Center and the clinical hubs in Tübingen and Dresden, and Heidelberg, thereby ensuring the testing of identified mechanisms in human patient cohorts in AMPro.

The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) is a multidisciplinary center covering the translational chain from basic molecular and cell biology to clinical research and care. Thereby, the characterization of cancer pathomechanisms and epidemiological identification of cancer risk factors are of vital importance for novel and personalized approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Through the National Center for Tumor Diseases, Germany's leading comprehensive cancer center, the DKFZ has access to patients for research from bench to bedside and back. In AMPro, the DKFZ will focus on aging and metabolism aspects related to cancer, such as proteotoxic stress, tissue maintenance, and relevant signaling pathways. In addition, the DKFZ will contribute state-of-the-art imaging facilities as well as a small-molecule screening platform. To strategically strengthen this emerging and particularly relevant topic, DKFZ has recently recruited Aurelio Teleman as full professor and head of the Division “Signal Transduction in Cancer and Metabolism”. In addition, DKFZ decided to expand this field by the recruitment of two junior research groups covering epidemiologic aspects on genetic risk factors and metabolism in the context of the current Helmholtz Young Investigator call.

The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) has strong expertise in the area of infectious diseases, investigating the fundamental principles underlying infection processes to develop innovative approaches to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases. In this context, host’s innate and adaptive immune responses to infection, evasion mechanisms that allow pathogens to circumvent the host defenses, and underlying mechanisms of pathogen clearance are dissected. This expertise will be exploited in AMPro to study the impact of metabolic programming on immune cell function and susceptibility to infections. The interrelationships between pre-natal events, microbiome composition and function, and subsequent manifestations of infectious diseases during aging will be analyzed. The therapeutic chances offered by modulation of the microbiota with probiotics or prebiotics to reset programming will be explored based on experimental models and available cohorts. Finally, HZI will also provide a state-of-the-art Microbiome Platform for experimental and clinical studies by AMPro partners.

The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) is dedicated to neurodegenerative disease, covering both research on the fundamental molecular and cellular basis of neurodegenerative disease as well as clinical and population research. In particular, research areas include topics central to this application such as age-related cognitive impairment, epigenetics and genome-environment interactions, as well as stem cells and tissue maintenance. Groups at the DZNE employ a wide range of techniques from precursor cell cultures (neurospheres and monolayers from mice) and primary neural ex-vivo and myeloid cell cultures (human and mouse) to behavioral phenotyping and single-cell transcriptomics.

The Max-Delbrück Center (MDC) has a longstanding commitment to metabolic research, hosting dedicated metabolic research activities at all levels, from basic science to human population based studies. To investigate metabolic related questions with respect to ageing, participating research groups at the MDC employ the full spectrum of methods from complex animal models to advanced human imaging technologies currently available to compete at the forefront of metabolic research, placing the MDC as a metabolism cornerstone for the AMPro program.