Jointly Combating Common Diseases: Clinically-Oriented Research on Diabetes, Cancer and Neurodegenerative Diseases at the 2nd Joint DZG Symposium in Dresden

The second joint symposium of the German Centers for Health Research (DZG), the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK), the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden (PLID) took place on January 21, 2020.

F.l.t.r.: Prof. Michele Solimena (PLID), Dr. Florian Jug (MPI-CBG), Dr. Annerose Beck (SMWK), Prof. Mechthild Krause (DKTK), Prof. Martin Hrabě de Angelis (DZD) and Prof. Gerd Kempermann (DZNE). Source of both pictures: PLID

Diabetes, cancer, dementia: Every year, around 300,000 - 500,000 people in Germany receive one of these diagnoses. As different as these diseases may appear at first glance, there are often cross-links in their development that are relevant for the design of therapeutic approaches and research methods. Identifying such cross-cutting themes and creating a forum for overarching research strategies is the main goal of the joint Dresden DZG symposium. In addition to getting to know each other personally and exchanging scientific information about the research infrastructures available in Dresden, this year for the first time two small-scale, interdisciplinary DZG projects received financial support. All with the aim of better networking for larger joint research projects.

Following the opening of the symposium by Angela Rösen-Wolff, dean of research at the Faculty of Medicine Carl Gustav Carus of TU Dresden, and the speakers of the three Dresden DZGs Michele Solimena (DZD-PLID), Gerd Kempermann (DZNE) and Mechthild Krause (DKTK), Martin Hrabe de Angelis, board member of the DZD and former chairman of the national activities of the DZGs at the federal level, spoke about national efforts in the field of digital medicine.

DZG-spanning research projects
Subsequently, scientists from the various centers presented their research projects. Tiago Alves from the Institute for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine started the session with an insight into the use of mass spectrometry methods for the quantitation of metabolic fluxes, and how these methods can contribute to a better understanding of cell function. He was followed by Miranka Wirth and Theresa Köbe (DZNE), who addressed in their lectures the impact of vascular risk factors on brain resilience and how these factors influence brain health. The session was rounded off by Malte von Bonin (DKTK), who spoke about the use of chimeric antigen receptor T cells. These cells solve a central problem in cancer therapy, namely the fight against tumors that are invisible to the immune system.

Image processing in the age of artificial intelligence
The keynote lecture by Florian Jug, research group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics and the Center for Systems Biology Dresden, led to remarkable reactions and a noticeable lively discussion. His presentation on image processing in the age of artificial intelligence and machine learning generated visible interest and perceivable enthusiasm among the audience.

As the grand finale of this year's 2nd Joint Dresden DZG Symposium, the two overarching DZG project grants, which were made available for the first time by the Dresden centers in a jointly effort, were solemnly announced. The recipients of the 10,000 Euro grants were Theresa Suckert and Antje Dietrich from OncoRay Dresden together with Annette Rünker and Alexander Garthe from the DZNE Dresden. The four scientists received the funding for their project "Exploration of pathological mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration". In a second funded project entitled "Oxidative stress markers as non-invasive tool to predict therapy response", Nicole Bechmann (DZD), Claudia Peitzsch and Doreen William (DKTK) as well as Tiago Alves (PLID) will jointly work together in the coming months.