The search for causes of neurodegenerative diseases

In spring 2021, the Faculty of Biology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) was lucky to acquire a specialist in the field of neurodegenerative disorders – Professor Dorothee Dormann. A cell biologist and biochemist by training, she is an expert in identifying the molecular processes that underlie conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and has already won several awards for her research.

Biochemist Professor Ute Hellmich and her team, among them Eric Schwegler, are developing new therapeutic approaches to treat various neglected tropical diseases. (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)BIOCHEMISTRY

Giving more attention to neglected tropical diseases

More than one billion people worldwide suffer from devastating tropical illnesses that to date have been insufficiently researched. Biochemist Professor Ute Hellmich is exploring new ways in which these neglected diseases can be treated. Her research group employs a structural biological approach, concentrating on three closely-related parasites that causes Chagas disease, African sleeping sickness, and leishmaniasis.


Searching for effective ways to diagnose non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Around 20 million people in Germany suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It can cause severe inflammation, cirrhosis of the liver, and even cancer. At present, there is no simple technique to detect NAFLD reliably at an early stage. But this is essential for the development of appropriate new drugs and therapies. The LITMUS research project seeks to make a major contribution in this field: Involving an international consortium, with the Mainz University Medical Center being a key player, the LITMUS network is developing biomarkers that open up new horizons.

Prof. Dr. Hansjörg Schild (r.) und Prof. Dr. Tobias Bopp leiten den Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB) 1292 "Gezielte Beeinflussung von konvergierenden Mechanismen ineffizienter Immunität bei Tumorerkrankungen und chronischen Infektionen" seit 2017. (Foto: Stefan F. Sämmer)IMMUNOLOGY

Tumors and chronic diseases outsmart the immune system

For decades, researchers at the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have been doing outstanding work in the field of immunology. In 2017, their work was further enhanced through the establishment of the Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 1292 on "Targeted influencing of the convergent mechanisms of ineffective immunity in cancer and chronic infections". The German Research Foundation (DFG) agreed to fund it to the tune of EUR 9.7 million for an initial period of four years.


When fatal stabbing becomes a scientific experiment

In 2017, Stefan Axmann came to the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the Mainz University Medical Center to establish a forensic physics department. It attracted a lot of attention from the media at the time, which was keen to report on the new facility, the first of its kind in Germany. The physicist himself likes to talk about his enthusiasm for his work and explains how he ended up in Mainz.

Professor Peter Baumann is one of the world's leading cell biologists and chromosome researchers. (photo: Peter Pulkowski)ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT PROFESSORSHIP

Highest endowed German research award brings world-class biologist to Mainz University

He is a world-leading cell biologist and chromosome researcher and recipient of an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship, the most highly-endowed research award in Germany: Professor Peter Baumann. In 2017, Baumann left the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Kansas City in the USA and moved to Germany to work at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), where he supports the strategic realignment and expansion of the life sciences disciplines.

The Rhine-Main Neuroscience Network held its fourth Biennal Meeting in June 2016. RHINE-MAIN NEUROSCIENCE NETWORK

In shape for the German Excellence Strategy competition

The Rhine-Main Neuroscience Network (rmn²) looks back on five successful years and is now preparing to meet the challenges of the next half decade. rmn2 is expanding and planning to prove its scientific strength in the upcoming Excellence Strategy competition. Some 300 neuroscientists based in the Rhine-Main region came together for a three-day symposium during which they exchanged views, listened to presentations given by eminent colleagues, and drew up plans for the future.

(© Universitätsmedizin Mainz)UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER

Center for Rare Diseases

The Center for Rare Diseases of the Nervous System (ZSEN) at Mainz University Medical Center was opened in late 2015. It is a key node in a new network of centers designed to treat people with rare diseases. It was previously the case that the majority of people suffering from these diseases had very low chances of receiving the correct diagnosis or successful treatment. 

IMB International Summer School 2015 INSTITUTE OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY

A summer vacation with top researchers

The International Summer School (ISS) organized by the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) in Mainz offers students from around the world an opportunity to participate in an exceptional program. Every year IMB selects a small group of budding scientists from hundreds of applicants and, next to lectures, directly involves them in current research projects for a period of six weeks. The Mainz University Medical Center and the Faculty of Biology of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) also participate in this project which contributes towards enhancing Mainz's reputation as an international science hub.

Professor Krishnaraj Rajalingam (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer) HEISENBERG PROFESSORSHIP

What happens in cells

In the person of Krishnaraj Rajalingam, the Research Center for Immunotherapy of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has been very lucky to acquire one of the world's foremost cell biologists. The newly appointed Heisenberg Professor focuses on the molecular signal pathways that regulate a wide variety of different processes within cells. He investigates not only the causes of cell growth and cell differentiation but also the pathogenesis of tumors and cancer and thus supplies concepts for new treatment approaches.

PD Dr. Detlef Becker treats patients with neurodermatitis at the Department of Dermatology of the Mainz University Medical Center using the innovative approach of photodynamic therapy. (photo: Peter Pulkowski) NEURODERMATITIS

Blue light therapy can allay inflammation

There is hope for people suffering from neurodermatitis: PD Dr. Detlef Becker, senior physician at the Department of Dermatology at the Mainz University Medical Center, has achieved fantastic results with photodynamic therapy, a treatment with blue light. But it is expensive and the statutory health insurance does not cover it. A new clinical study shall provide reliable data on the efficacy of the method.

(fltr) Dr. Alejandro F. Schinder and Prof. Dr. Benedikt Berninger (photo: Peter Pulkowski)BESSEL RESEARCH AWARD 

New neurons for the brain

Dr. Alejandro F. Schinder of the Instituto Leloir in Buenos Aires has received a Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award granted by the Humboldt Foundation for fundamental research that has provided important insight into how new nerve cells are incorporated in the adult brain. The presentation of the award has set in motion a joint international project and Professor Benedikt Berninger of the Research Center Translational Neurosciences at the Mainz University Medical Center intends to cooperate closely with his Argentinian colleague over the next years.

Professor Mita Banerjee of the American Studies division speaks about the new 'Life Sciences, Life Writing' research training group at Mainz University. (photo: Peter Pulkowski)RESEARCH TRAINING GROUP

Overcoming barriers in order to scrutinize limits

The new research training group 'Life Sciences, Life Writing: Extreme Experiences of Human Life between Biomedical Explanations and Life Experiences" attempts to bridge the gap between the natural-medical sciences and the humanities. The German Research Foundation is providing almost EUR 2 million to support this unusual project at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU).

Medical-historical injection equipment (photo: Dagmar Loch)MEDICAL HISTORY COLLECTION

When the life awakener was used to fight arthritis

There is a small but fine collection of various historical medical objects in the library of the Institute of History, Philosophy, and Ethics of Medicine of the Mainz University Medical Center. Professor Norbert W. Paul knows his way around here. The Director of the Institute tells some of the stories that lie behind the exhibits.

(photo: Frank Erdnüß)SPONGES

On the trail of an ancient survivor

Sponges have a lot to relate: And Mainz molecular biologist Professor Dr. Werner E. G. Müller has been showing the world exactly what they have to tell us over the past few decades. In an interview he talks about this long underestimated organism, its significance to research, and its potential to help people in so many different ways.

(photo: Thomas Hartmann)NEW BUILDING

A new home for excellent research

The Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) is a new center for life sciences on the campus of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation is providing EUR 100 million over 10 years in support for running the project, while the state of Rhineland-Palatinate is financing the institute's construction and building. In a special tour given for the JGU MAGAZINE, Dr. Bernhard Korn, Director of Scientific Core Facilities and Technology, highlights the work completed to date.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)DOPING IN MASS SPORTS

Drugs testing is only a band-aid

Professor Dr. Dr. Perikles Simon has caused a stir with his method for detecting gene doping: He and his colleagues have succeeded in doing what was previously thought impossible. When it comes to headlines, this kind of research is exactly what the media love. However, in an interview, the head of the Sports Medicine, Prevention and Rehabilitation division at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) tends to take a rather different view.

(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)DIAGNOSTICS

Evaluating cirrhosis 'live' and accurately at the cellular level

Detlef Schuppan and his colleagues are developing a revolutionary method that will make it possible to evaluate the progress of fibrosis and cirrhosis at the cellular level and to even view the effects. For this work, the physician and chemist has been awarded the most highly endowed research grant of the European Union, the ERC Advanced Grant.