Research networks in the focus area “cell dynamics and imaging”

Our community is intensively engaged in acquiring external funding, especially for interfaculty research networks in the scientific focus area of cell dynamics and imaging. By joining forces in the Cells in Motion Interfaculty Centre, we embed the specific scientific topics of these collaborative projects into a larger thematic context, and, at the same time, our network is an incubator for new collaborative initiatives. Together we further develop our scientific field as well as supportive offers and institutional structures.

Collaborative Research Centre "Breaking Barriers – Immune cells and pathogens at cell/matrix barriers" (CRC 1009)

Blood vessels consist of a layer of endothelial cells (green) and a basement membrane (violet). When recognizing inflammation, immune cells (red) exit the blood vessel and migrate to the inflamed tissue. Immunofluorescence microscopy
© Hang Li, Stefan Butz, Dietmar Vestweber

This collaborative research project investigates inflammatory mechanisms at cellular barriers of complex organisms. Such barriers separate the organism and the outside world but also different tissues and organs from each other and play a central role in many diseases: In addition to the defence against infectious pathogens, these structures also play an important role in regulating inflammatory processes. The research projects use moleculargenetic, cell biological, biochemical, immunological as well as animal experimental and imaging methods to elucidate functional mechanisms that may provide starting points for diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive strategies for infectious diseases as well as autoimmune diseases and allergies.

Spokesperson: Prof Dr Johannes Roth (Faculty of Medicine)
Involved Faculties: Medicine, Biology
Project duration: 07/2012 – 06/2020
Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)

Collaborative Research Centre "Dynamic Cellular Interfaces: Formation and Function" (CRC 1348)

Nerve cells of a fruit fly – researchers investigate, for example, how non-specific connections between nerve cells degenerate during the development of the nervous system.
© AG Rumpf

This collaborative research project focuses on the question of how contact points between cells develop and function. Special molecular mechanisms enable communication between cells and their cohesion, thus regulating cell differentiation as well as the development and function of different tissues. Researchers investigate these processes in fruit flies, zebrafish, and mice, combining high-resolution microscopic methods with biochemical and genetic methods.

Spokesperson: Prof Dr Christian Klämbt (Faculty of Biology)
Involved Faculties: Biology, Chemistry and Pharmacy, Medicine
Project duration: 01/2018 – 12/2021
Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)

Collaborative Research Centre "Synergetic Effects in Chemistry – from Additivity to Cooperativity" (CRC 858)

Small molecules (e.g. ligands) interacting in a cooperative mode with a metal surface: The metal surface functions as preorientation unit for the individual molecules and as reaction medium while single metal atoms are involved in chemical transformations.
© SFB 858

This collaborative research project focuses on the question of how molecular building blocks jointly and simultaneously influence chemical transformations in chemical reactions. Researchers compare this so-called cooperative mode of action with the conventional reaction principle, in which the individual activation steps follow each other ("additivity"). Cooperative effects could help make the chemical processes used to produce active substances and materials more efficient, economical and ecofriendly.

Spokesperson: Prof Dr Armido Studer (Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy)
Involved Faculties: Chemistry and Pharmacy, Physics, Medicine
Project duration: 01/2010 – 12/2021
Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)

Collaborative Research Centre/Transregio "Initiating/Effector versus Regulatory Mechanisms in Multiple Sclerosis" (CRC/TRR 128)

Cell culture model of the blood-brain barrier. A human T-cell (bottom right, blue cell nucleus) loaded with the protein Granzyme K (green), looks for a suitable site to drill a channel through a blood vessel cell (blue cell nucleus top left, red cell margin) for migration. This process does not need inflammation and is part of immune surveillance in the healthy brain.
© AG Zarbock, AG Schwab

This collaborative research project focuses on investigating multiple sclerosis. In this autoimmune disease, immune cells attack the very organism they are supposed to protect: They migrate to the brain, where they cause chronic inflammation. In order to develop new therapeutic concepts, researchers in this project want to unravel the changes in the immune system that underlie the disease, the role of the blood-brain barrier and the effects of the immune system's attack on the central nervous system. They examine these processes in rodents and humans and often use innovative imaging techniques.

Spokesperson: Prof Dr Heinz Wiendl (Faculty of Medicine)
Involved institutions: Medical Faculties at the Universities of Münster, Mainz and Munich
Project duration: 07/2012 – 06/2020
Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)

Research Unit "Interactions at the Neurovascular Interface" (RU 2325)

This collaborative research project focuses on the question of how the blood vessel system and the nervous system are functionally linked. In particular, the blood-brain barrier – which is the wall of blood vessels in the brain that protects nerve tissue against harmful cells and molecules in the blood stream – requires the cells of the blood vessels and those of the nervous system to function in a tightly coordinated fashion as a "neurovascular unit". Researchers investigate how this unit forms and is maintained, focusing on signal transmission between the two systems and the role of molecular regulators to which both blood vessel and nerve cells respond when growing and migrating.

Spokesperson: Prof Dr Ralf H. Adams (Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine)
Involved institutions: Faculties of Medicine and Biology at the University of Münster, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Münster, Universities of Frankfurt am Main and Heidelberg, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Charité Berlin
Project duration: 2016 – 2021
Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)

Clinical Research Unit "Organ Dysfunction During Systemic Inflammation" (CRU 342)

During inflammation in the lung of a mouse leukocytes (green) migrate into the tissue and interact with platelets (grey).
© AG Rossaint / AG Zarbock

This collaborative research project focuses on systemic inflammatory reactions such as sepsis which are often fatal. The involved researchers investigate molecular, immunological and cellular signalling pathways that are relevant for such inflammation and subsequent organ failure. They examine these causal disease processes in murine and porcine animal models as well as in studies on patients and want to use their findings to develop new therapy options for patients.

Spokesperson: Prof Dr Alexander Zarbock (Faculty of Medicine)
Coordinator: PD Dr Jan Rossaint (Faculty of Medicine)
Involved Faculties and non-university research institutes: Faculty of Medicine, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine
Project duration: 02/2020 – 01/2023
Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)

Clinical Research Unit "Male Germ Cells: from Genes to Function" (CRU 326)

Color-coded time lapse overlay depicting one sperm flagellar beat cycle. Patient sperm show reduced amplitude in the flagellar beat compared to healthy donor sperm.
© Timo Strünker

This translational and interdisciplinary collaborative research project focuses on unravelling causes of male infertility. 50 researchers of nine institutes intend to decipher genetic and epigenetic factors as well as molecular mechanisms that influence germ cells – from the complete loss to sperm dysfunction. They investigate the interplay of male germ cells in humans as well as in animal models with the aim to improve the diagnostic yield and therapeutic options of male infertility. This will lead to an improved understanding of male reproductive health.

Speaker: Prof Dr Jörg Gromoll (Faculty of Medicine)
Research Coordinator: Prof Dr Frank Tüttelmann (Faculty of Medicine)
Involved Faculties: Medicine, Biology
Project duration: 08/2017 – 07/2020
Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)

Research Training Group "Chemical Biology of Ion Channels" (RTG 2515)

The five research areas of the Research Training Group
© Chembion/Heike Blum

In this graduate programme, PhD students investigate the synthesis, modification and biological use of small organic molecules, with which the opening state of ion channels can be specifically controlled and made visible with molecular imaging. Ion channels are proteins which form pores in cell membranes, thus allowing charged particles to pass through the cell membrane and influence processes in cells, tissues and organs. Being able to systematically open and close ion channels could, in the future, open up a range of applications in the treatment of various pathological conditions, such as cancer or neural diseases. Many scientific contacts, which made this joint project possible, were established through the Cells in Motion Cluster of Excellence.

Spokesperson: Prof Dr Bernhard Wünsch (Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy), Prof Dr Thomas Budde (Medical Faculty)
Involved Faculties: Chemistry and Pharmacy, Medicine
Project duration: 10/2019 – 03/2024
Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)


Distribution of immune cells in the body of a mouse, imaged with optical imaging
© S. Gran & L. Honold et al./Theranostics 2018(8)

How do immune cells behave in the body? What happens during immunotherapy, which is designed to encourage the body’s own immune system to attack a disease? In this Europe-wide collaborative research project, experts from research and the pharmaceutical industry want to develop biomedical imaging methods for monitoring immune cells before, during and after immune treatment. The researchers will initially look at the processes in animal models for different diseases – with the aim of translating the results and methods to patients mid-term enabling them to establish image-guided immunotherapies with improved efficacy in diseases such as cancer or inflammation.

Spokesperson: Prof Albert D. Windhorst (Amsterdam University Medical Centre, the Netherlands)
Involved Faculties at Münster University: Medicine (Coordination: Prof Michael Schäfers, Prof Andreas Jacobs), Chemistry and Pharmacy
Project duration: 10/2019 – 09/2024
Funding: European Commission (EC)