Press Release

HFSP research funding for the Helmholtz Zentrum München

Neuherberg, Germany, 27 March 2014. The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) organization has awarded two research grants to international research collaboration groups headed by the Helmholtz Zentrum München. The projects address research into non-apoptotic programmed cell death and neural circuits of mechanosensation. The funding is for 1,350,000 and 1,050,000 dollars, respectively, for a period of three years.

HFSP research funding for the Helmholtz Zentrum München

Source: HFSP

The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) funds innovative research work in the field of life sciences. The organization's members are Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland and the USA, as well as the EU. Research grants are awarded to international research collaborations that carry out interdisciplinary work in order to develop cutting edge approaches to fundamental issues in the life sciences.



Oxidized lipidomes: Key figures in non-apoptotic cell death

Oxidative modifications of lipids are a key process in non-apoptotic cell death signalling and play important roles in a number of relevant diseases, such as neurodegeneration, diabetes and asthma. A team of scientists headed by Dr. Marcus Conrad from the Institute of Developmental Genetics (IDG) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) now strives to intensify research into the underlying molecular mechanisms. The overall goal of this program is to identify the specific signature of oxidized lipids and to decipher the interaction of these modified lipids with signal molecules that ultimately promote non-apoptotic cell death. Knowledge gained by this approach should lead to the development of a language code that, in turn, may provide cues for the design of novel treatment strategies. The partners in the project are Dr. Valerian Kagan, University of Pittsburgh (USA), Dr. Fulvio Ursini, University of Padova (Italy) and Dr. Judith Klein-Seetharaman, Warwick Medical School, Coventry (UK).


Mechanosensation: transmission and perception of neuronal stimuli



Movement and coordination must be modulated according to the environment. They are subject to permanent feedback from the perceived stimuli and adequate adaptive responses. With respect to the perceived signals, it is necessary to distinguish between external influences and self-generated stimuli – a capability that makes highly differentiated motor sequences possible. The scientists headed by Dr. Hérnan López-Schier from the Sensory Biology and Organogenesis (SBO) research unit at the HMGU want to uncover the underlying mechanosensation circuits and precisely characterize the involved nerve cells and genes. Partners in the project are Prof. Florian Engert, Harvard University (USA) and Dr. Ana Belen Elgoyhen, INGEBI-CONICET in Buenos Aires (Argentina).


For more information on the participating research partners at the HMGU:

AG Redox Signaling & Disease at the IDG
Department SBO

Further information


The Helmholtz Zentrum München, the German Research Center for Environmental Health, pursues the goal of developing personalized medicine, i.e. a customized approach to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of widespread diseases such as diabetes mellitus and lung disease. To that end, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. It has about 2,200 staff members and is a member of the Helmholtz Association, Germany’s largest scientific organization, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with some 34,000 staff members.

Rising life expectancy is causing an increase in age-related, but also sociological and environmental, influences on the genes. The Institute of Developmental Genetics (IDG) examines these changes in genetic material. In the Mouse Genetics group, genetic animal models are developed to investigate various diseases. These models are analyzed in the Disease Modelling research group in order to identify gene functions and cell processes and evaluate the influence of the environment and aging processes. The group focuses on the examination of neurological and psychiatric diseases.

The independent Sensory Biology and Organogenesis (SBO) research unit works with a zebra fish model system to examine cellular, molecular and physiological reactions to mechanical stimuli and sensory disorders. The focus areas are physical and mechanical tissue properties. The objectives are to examine the mechanisms that control sensory system development, self-regulation and regeneration and to research the evolution of the sensory organs that perceive the environment.