Research Program

Immune processes, inflammation and pathological (lymph)angiogenesis are important components of various eye diseases that can lead to blindness. These include graft rejection after corneal transplantation, dry eye and allergic eye disease, ocular tumors, uveitis, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Extensive preliminary work of this research unit showed that abnormal lymphangiogenesis and reactive macrophages/microglial cells are essential triggers and mediators of inflammatory reactions in these eye diseases. Our hypothesis therefore is that by selective modulation of ocular (lymph)angiogenesis and cellular immunity (especially microglia and macrophages) novel innovative therapeutic approaches can be developed to target these heterogeneous diseases.

The research unit has the core objective of gaining a deeper understanding of these molecular processes and to develop new diagnostic and treatment options for common blinding eye diseases through intensive collaboration between specialized research groups in the areas of (lymph)angiogenesis research, inflammatory macrophages, microglial physiology, and uveitis research.

Three thematic areas

lymphatic vessels

Lymphatic vessels are an important part of the “afferent” arm of inflammatory and immune responses. Via lymphatic vessels, antigen-presenting cells and antigens from the periphery enter the regional lymph nodes to induce local immune responses.

microglia

Microglia-mediated retinal immune processes are an early occurring pathophysiological hallmark of hereditary retinal dystrophies, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

macrophages

Macrophages along with resident microglial cells of the retina appear to play a key role in all ocular inflammatory processes to be studied here. Thus, certain polarized phenotypes of macrophages mesh intimately with pathological lymphangiogenesis.

Background and specific aims

Background

The eye is the most important human sensory organ with which we perceive 90 percent of all information in our environment. The optical transparency as well as a structural and functional integrity of the eye is essential for good vision.

Specific aims

The general goal of the FOR 2240 is the concerted investigation of the so far still poorly understood pathogenesis of aberrant immune processes of the eye and the development of innovative new diagnostic and therapeutic concepts.

News

The Young Researcher Vision Camp 2021

FOR 2240 scientists Dr. Karina Hadrian, Alfrun Schönberg and Dr. Gwen Musial participated in the annual “Vision Camp 2021” organized by the European Vision Institute (EVI). The meeting took place online on 24th and 25th June 2021.

The European Vision Institute (EVI) creates and implements programs and projects…

Dr. med. Hanhan Liu appointed as new CCSP fellow

Dr. med. Hanhan Liu finished her medical studies at Tongji University in Shanghai in June 2013. After that, she worked for 2 years as an Ophthalmology resident at the Ophthalmology Department of Shanghai East Hospital and finished her master thesis.

ARVO Meeting 2021: Strong presence of FOR researchers

ARVO is the largest organization for eye research and vision research worldwide. The virtual ARVO meeting 2021 took place in San Francisco from 1-7 May 2021. Researchers of the FOR 2240 were very active at this digital meeting: 19 FOR2240 members gave lectures or presented papers. FOR members were even present at Mini-symposia and Special interest groups (SIGs). Prof. Dr. med. Philipp Steven ran a special interest group (SIG) meeting about the topic “New-Perspective: Ocular Graft-versus-Host Disease is more than just another form of dry-eye disease” and presented results from his FOR […]

Events

The research unit FOR 2240 hosts a number of different formal events, including regular internal meetings of all principle investigators, invited guest lectures, visiting professors, retreats, and a symposium to be held near the end of the initial funding period.

Links

The research unit FOR 2240 is embedded in various institutional contexts and has close cooperative ties to various other projects and networks.