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European Center for Angioscience

ECAS has a unique position in Germany and Europe by unraveling the important role of blood vessels in pathologi­cal processes resulting in the development of preventive actions to avoid massive damage of the end organ.

ECAS is a research center of Heidelberg University at the Medi­cal Faculty Mannheim. With the inauguration of ECAS in Mannheim in 2017, Heidelberg University adopted a unique approach to push a major paradigm change in the field of vascular research. To establish ECAS at Heidelberg University, the Medial Faculty Mannheim brought together its basic vascu­lar research from different institutes under the auspices of ECAS. These Core Units are complemented by two Junior Research Groups and an Adjunct Faculty of presently 14 laboratories including clinician scientists from diverse organ disciplines. Thus, ECAS brings to­gether scientists from previously existing excellent vascular research divisions to foster the collaborative spirit and take the scientific output to the next level. This unique approach gives ECAS a broad international visibility and renders the Mannheim Medical Campus a highly attractive and internationally competitive scientific location.

Research Environment

Heidelberg University is uniquely positioned to host the ECAS. The Rhine-Neckar metropolitan area offers an excellent environment for a nationally and internationally leading center in the field of vascular research. Heidelberg University has two medical faculties and two major university hospitals in Mannheim and Heidelberg, each with departments covering all areas of vascular medicine. Heidelberg/Mannheim is also an important partner site of the German Center for Cardiovascular Diseases (DZHK). Moreover, the Ludwigshafen Hospital with its extensive cardiac surgery clinic and a cardiological-epidemiological research institute contributes to the scientific environment.

Hotspot Cardiovascular Research

The two medical faculties have individually and jointly a strong position in basic and translational cardiovascular re­search. Heidelberg University, together with the Univer­sity of Frankfurt, founded the first exclusively vascular biology-focused Collaborative Research Center (CRC) in 2005, the DFG-funded Transregio CRC23 “Vascular Dif­ferentiation and Remodeling”. Under the auspices of the Medical Faculty Mannheim of Heidelberg University, the TransRegio23 ran successfully for the full funding period of 12 years. The successor CRC, CRC1366 “Vascular Control of Organ Function”, inaugu­rated in January 2019, has already entered the second funding period (2023-2026) under the leadership of the ECAS Director Hellmut Augustin (Speaker) and Gergana Dobreva (Vice-Speaker).

Complementing the prioritization of the field of vascular research on the Mannheim Medical Campus, the Heidelberg Medical Campus has prioritized cardiac research. In 2022, Heidelberg University successful implemented the cardiac CRC1550 “Molecular Circuits of Heart Disease”. As a result, Heidelberg University is the only university in Germany hosting both, a vascular and a cardiac Collaborative Research Center. This combined strong critical mass in vascular and cardiac research was foundational for the successful application to establish the Helmholtz Institute für Translational AngioCardioScience (HI-TAC) as an outstation of the Max-Delbrück-Center (MDC) in Berlin on the campus of Heidelberg University (inauguration: July 2023).

Life Science Hub Rhine-Neckar

Beyond the university institutions, the Rhine-Neckar met­ropolitan region is particularly strong in the life sciences with several non-university research institutes, including the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the Eu­ropean Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), and the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research (MPI-MR). Moreover, the University of Applied Sciences Mannheim conducts applied life science research and Mannheim pro­vides a strong industry sector with major pharmaceutical companies such as Roche Diagnostics.

The nearby Universities of Frankfurt and Giessen have received funding in cardiopulmonary research for the ex­cellence cluster “Cardio-Pulmonary System”. These ac­tivities are tightly coordinated with vascular research in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan area. This further involves the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim. Together, ECAS aims at advancing the Rhine-Main-Neckar valley into the premier Angioscience Research Region in Europe.