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Vascular Biology and Medicine

Vascular biology is a sub-discipline of cardiovascular research. Vascular biology is in contrast to the very homogenous and well-developed field of cardiology research the younger, less developed and more heterogeneous branch of cardiovascular research. This is largely due to the inherently interdisciplinary nature of vascular research: Blood vessels are in all organs of the body.

As such, vascular biology essentially involves all organ disciplines. The overall importance of vascular biology research is dramatically illustrated by the fact that dysfunction of blood and lymphatic vessels is directly or indirectly involved in more than 70% of all human deaths. It is for this reason that the Medical Faculty Mannheim of Heidelberg University has prioritized cardiovascular research with a primary focus on blood vessel research as one of its four research priority areas (FSP).

The pathophysiologically most relevant branches of vascular biology research are

  • angiogenesis, the growth of blood vessels (desired during regenerative processes; unwanted, e.g. during tumor growth)
  • coagulation
  • hypertension
  • inflammation
  • atherosclerosis
  • stroke
  • diabetes

Complementing the faculty’s vascular biology research program, primary cardiology research is similarly well established at the Mannheim campus, as e.g., evidenced by the faculty’s membership in the German Center for Cardiovascular Disease (DZHK).

Perspectives and Challenges

The critical importance of blood and lymphatic vessels for normal organ function as well as the involvement of vascular dysfunction in most human diseases has made vascular biology research one of the most dynamically developing fields of contemporary life science research during the last two decades. Important discoveries and technological developments with diagnostic and therapeutic implications have been made and are likely to be expected in the future.

The Medical Faculty Mannheim is consequently committed to further advance vascular biology research on the Mannheim campus. It will towards this end strengthen interdisciplinary approaches aimed at fostering research relating to the other priority area of the faculty. This includes the crosstalk of blood and lymphatic vessels with tumors (FSP Oncology) as well as common signaling pathways of the vascular and the neural systems (FSP Neuronal Plasticity and Pain Research). Ultimately, the FSPs are working together to establish novel extramurally funded collaborative research programs.

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