Partners: Universität zu Köln – Universitätsklinikum (UKK)
The Institute of Neurophysiology of the University of Cologne is traditionally working on cellular, molecular and genomic analysis of mESCs and hESCs as well as its translation into clinical application. UKK was among the first institutions in Germany obtaining the permission to work on hESCs by the Robert-Koch Institute. UKK has experience coordinating EU-funded projects, notably the ongoing STREP "Crystal" (Cryo-banking of human stem cells for therapeutic application) and the pan-European FunGenES consortium (Functional Genomics in Engineered ESCs) which ended in December 2007.
Besides coordinating the project and carrying out the knowledge management, the contribution of UKK to ESNATS includes toxicogenomics, verification of predictive signatures of drugs and bioinformatics (in cooperation with QURE).
Key staff involved in the project
Jürgen Hescheler, Prof., Director of the Institute of Neurophysiology at the University of Cologne, has been working with ESCs for over 18 years. Beginning with studies on cellular signal transduction, he has defined many important basic aspects both for fundamental research and for clinical applications. He has a strong interest in the application of ESCs for in vitro-toxicology and has co-founded a company developing a cardiomyocyte-based embryotoxicity test (Axiogenesis).
Agapios Sachinidis, Prof., is especially interested in selective differentiation of transgenic ESC that can be used for generation of pure populations of somatic cells (including cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle and endothelial cells). He is also an expert in identifying specific gene signatures applying large-scale gene expression methodologies.
Michael Heke, PhD in Biology, has been focused on stem cell research for the past 10 years. Early on, his primary interest was to gain an understanding of the molecular basis of hESCs, as well as elucidating to their genetic route taken as they develop into an organism. Later, he shifted his attention towards clinical applications of stem cells, e.g. being in charge of a clinical trial of applied stem cell therapy for patients in cardiac surgery. He has since joined the ESNATS and the DETECTIVE projects to lead its knowledge management and scientific coordination.
Further information: www.uni-koeln.de/med-fak/physiologie/