This lab was established as a cooperation between the Max-Planck Society and the University of Heidelberg. The aim of this cooperative project is to provide a venue for the evaluation of clinically driven problems using cutting edge basic research. Our partners at the Max-Planck-Society are J. Spatz and his department (Cellular Biophysics) and R. Fässler and his department (Molecular Medicine). Our lab thus provides a unique setting combining patient-oriented research with basic research.
The main thrust of our lab is the study of the role of matrix and extracellular matrix receptors in various disease models including osteoporosis, tumor development and liver disease. Fibronectin is a large extracellular matrix protein, whose absence results in death of the embryo at an early stage. In addition, a variety of functions have been attributed to fibronectin in postnatal life. Our research program includes a clinical part and a basic research part. The clinical part examines the role of matrix including fibronectin in various disease conditions. The basic part examines the function of its isoforms, other matrix components and related receptors in various mouse models (including conditional knockout mice) and in vitro.
Clinically, we focus on performing prospective studies in humans. In the lab we take advantage of genetic manipulations in mice in order to ask and answer relevant questions. We use a variety of methods, including protein biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, various staining methods in histology, as well as a wide spectrum of techniques ranging from laser microdissection, quantitative real time PCR, array analysis, various imaging techniques such as electron microscopy, microcomputer tomography, bioluminescence imaging, as well as specialized tests such as infrared microspectroscopy. A number of collaborations are in place allowing us the application of various methods as needed in our projects.