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Blood vessels: Much more than just tubes

No. 15c | 24/03/2017

The SFB Transregio 23, "Vascular Differentiation and Remodeling", will be hosting an international symposium to commemorate its 12th anniversary. The symposium will be held on March 27th and 28th at the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) in Heidelberg. Vascular researchers from around the globe will lecture on how blood vessels influence their environment and thereby regulate important processes in the body.

Blood vessels of the lung
© Eye of Science / Hellmut Augustin

Scientists estimate that over 70 percent of human deaths worldwide are ultimately caused by damaged or failing blood vessels. Stroke and myocardial infarction are the leading causes of death as a consequence of hypertension, atherosclerotic deposits in the vessel walls or of blood clotting problems. Even cancer or the devastating late effects of diabetes are also closely linked to regulatory defects or damage in the vascular system.

The network of scientists in the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) Transregio 23 is in its 12th year of studying the influences that regulate the cells of the vessel wall. "It is undisputed by now that the blood vessels are much more than tubes for the blood and that the function of the vessel wall reaches far beyond that of a mere passive barrier," says SFB coordinator Hellmut Augustin from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Medical Faculty Mannheim of Heidelberg University. "We know now that vessels dynamically control their environment, thereby interfering, for example, with organ development and metabolism or influencing the defense against pathogens."

The SFB has invited vascular researchers from around the world to report on the current state of their research at a symposium to commemorate its 12th anniversary. The researchers will give talks about the signaling molecules that regulate the function of blood vessels and the chemical messengers that the vascular wall cells use to communicate among each other or to influence their environment. Further topics covered at the meeting will be the influence of metabolic factors on blood vessels, the influence of blood vessels on the development of individual organs and how blood vessels interfere with the pathogenic processes of atherosclerosis and diabetes and even promote the spread of cancer.

The Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) Transregio 23 is a collaboration with the participation of scientists from the Medical Faculties Heidelberg and Mannheim of Heidelberg University, from the University of Frankfurt and from the Max Planck Institute in Bad Nauheim. The SFB is financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Link to the symposium program:

With more than 3,000 employees, the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) is Germany’s largest biomedical research institute. DKFZ scientists identify cancer risk factors, investigate how cancer progresses and develop new cancer prevention strategies. They are also developing new methods to diagnose tumors more precisely and treat cancer patients more successfully. The DKFZ's Cancer Information Service (KID) provides patients, interested citizens and experts with individual answers to questions relating to cancer.

To transfer promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improve the prognosis of cancer patients, the DKFZ cooperates with excellent research institutions and university hospitals throughout Germany:

  • National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT, 6 sites)
  • German Cancer Consortium (DKTK, 8 sites)
  • Hopp Children's Cancer Center (KiTZ) Heidelberg
  • Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON Mainz) - A Helmholtz Institute of the DKFZ
  • DKFZ-Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim
  • National Cancer Prevention Center (jointly with German Cancer Aid)
The DKFZ is 90 percent financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.


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