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Lucas Schirmer appointed to Heisenberg Professorship for Translational Neurobiology

Since July 1, 2022, a Heisenberg Professorship for "Translational Neurobiology" is part of the core area of the MCTN. Professor Lucas Schirmer, MD, has successfully obtained the professorship, initially financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the framework of his Heisenberg programme. Lucas Schirmer focuses on neurological diseases caused by immune system dysfunctions.

The Heisenberg Professorship is one of the most highly endowed and important awards for highly qualified young scientists. With this award, the DFG honors outstanding scientists who have already demonstrated their qualifications for a leadership position.

Lucas Schirmer is a managing senior physician at the Department of Neurology and heads a scientific research group at the Mannheim Medical Faculty. With the Heisenberg Professorship, he is expanding his long-standing research on multiple sclerosis (MS) and related chronic inflammatory diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system.

The professorship is also associated with the management of a clinical-translational section for neuroimmunology, which is in the process of being newly established within the Department of Neurology. There, findings from basic research are to be translated into innovative therapies as quickly as possible and brought into clinical application. A day clinic is also planned, in which MS patients will be treated on a day-care basis.

MS is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own structures, the covering layer of the nerve fibers. Schirmer is particularly interested in the cell type-specific disease mechanisms of MS, which need to be deciphered: Why are certain cells more susceptible than others?

To better understand the course of the disease, his research group uses a wide range of methods. At the heart of his systems biology approach are so-called omics technologies (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics), high-throughput methods that can be used to record the pathological changes associated with the progression of inflammatory diseases in cell-type-specific detail.

"We are driven by the hope that our research will provide the basis for novel, cell type-specific therapeutic approaches for MS and related diseases," says the dedicated neuroscientist. 

"Lucas Schirmer is an outstanding and highly innovative clinician scientist. With his technological expertise, he is a great asset not only to our neurosciences, but to several of the faculty's main research areas at once," emphasizes the head of the Neurological Clinic, Professor Michael Platten, MD. "I am very glad that we can offer him an attractive and longer-term perspective at the UMM with the Heisenberg Professorship. After the funding period of five years, the Heisenberg Professorship will be converted into a regular professorship at the Mannheim Medical Faculty.

Lucas Schirmer studied human medicine in Göttingen. He completed his residency in neurology at the Klinikum rechts der Isar of the Technical University of Munich before going to the University of California in San Francisco for three years in early 2015. In 2018, he came to Mannheim to establish a research group on MS with support from the Hertie Foundation's MyLab program. In 2020, he successfully solicited an ERC Starting Grant from the European Research Council. The Heisenberg Professorship is the next step in the career of this outstanding physician scientist.

Press release at the Medical Faculty Mannheim (German language)
19.07.2022 W-3 Heisenberg-Professur für Mannheimer Neurowissenschaftler