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Helmholtz Zentrum Munich

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The Helmholtz Zentrum München is a research institution of the Federal Government and the State of Bavaria within the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, the largest scientific organisation in Germany. At the Helmholtz Zentrum München fundamental processes of human disease development are analysed taking into account both genetic and environmental influences.

Diseases in the center of the research encompass neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases, lung diseases, infectious diseases and diabetes. In order to perform the disease related research a wide variety of abilities and expertise is gathered at the campus of the Helmholtz Zentrum München including genome research, cell biology, bioinformatics, biomathematics, chemistry, physics, and medicine.

Furthermore national and international scientific interactions are ensured by several renowned international research networks led by scientists of the Helmholtz Zentrum München.

The Helmholtz Zentrum München has itself committed to the training and promotion of the next generation of scientists reflected by the presence of 14 junior research groups. At the Helmholtz Zentrum München 9 diffrent institutes and 2 departments focus on different areas of neurobiological research (molecular neurogenetics, neurogenesis, neuronal migration, neuronal circuit formation, behavioural neuroscience, neuroendocrinology, and molecular eye development) with three primary research goals:

  • the dissection of the molecular genetic networks that underlie neurogenesis, proliferation, differentiation, and pattern formation in the brain;
  • the decoding of molecular mechanisms and pathways leading to neurodegenerative (Morbus Parkinson, Alzheimer´s Disease, eye disorders) and psychiatric (depression, anxiety) diseases, and
  • the mutagenesis of the complete mouse genome using conditional gene trapping, gene targeting strategies, and RNA interference.

Using human genetic approaches candidate genes for the different diseases are identified and animal models (zebrafish, mouse) are established by inactivating or ectopically expressing these genes. Subsequently a wide variety of methods (newest imaging methods, structural biology, neuropathological methods, biochemical assays, etc) is used to visualize and identify the pathological changes and molecular networks underlying the respective disease.

Bioinformatics approaches are applied in parallel in order to analyse the genome in silico, to identify novel genes, determine their role in genetic networks, and predict their functions and genetic interactions. These predictions are then verified experimentally in animal models. The knowledge of this basic research is then transferred back to the clinics via the well established clinical cooperation groups and centers for tranlational medicine within the Helmholtz Zentrum München.