Molecular Medicine Partnership Unit initiates second phase
The first rate research from the Molecular Medicine Partnership Unit (MMPU) is now set to continue for the long-term. The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and the Medical Faculty of University of Heidelberg, who formed the joint venture in 2002, have announced their plans to initiate a second phase of the MMPU. The Unit has always combined the strengths of medical science with that of molecular biology. In this second phase, the links between the institutions will be strengthened. There will be an increased focus on recruiting additional research groups from each organisation as well as intensifying activities in post-graduate training.
“This second phase highlights the commitment by both EMBL and the Medical Faculty to use our strengths to continue in a partnership in the critical area of molecular medicine,” says Iain Mattaj, EMBL Director-General. “The on-going convergence of biology and medicine has created a great opportunity for our institutes to work together in the long-term.”
“Our two institutes are now intensifying their first-rate and long-standing cooperation,” says Peter Hommelhoff, Principal of the University of Heidelberg. In his view, the recent excellency initiative from the federal and state governments in Germany serves as a clear indication of the fact that politicians, too, have come to regard the increased clustering of universities and non-university research centres as an indispensable prerequisite for Germany’s future in the scientific world.
Matthias Hentze from EMBL and Andreas Kulozik, Head of the University’s Department of Paediatric Oncology, Haematology and Immunology, initiated the first phase of the partnership. Last year, the work of the MMPU was reviewed by an external panel of international experts and was considered to be ‘first rate, extremely impressive and clearly internationally competitive.’
The development plan for the second phase of the Unit calls for additional partnered groups with joint leadership from both institutes to join the MMPU and concentrate on molecular medicine topics. Groups studying cystic fibrosis and degenerative diseases due to iron mismanagement have signaled an interest to participate, as well as another group involved in identifying tumor markers for cancer diagnosis.
The new phase also plans for the MMPU to be transformed from a virtual unit into a physical entity. The groups are discussing the possibility of a move into a common space provided by the University of Heidelberg. The new centre will generate true critical mass and the best opportunities for sharing of e1xpertise.
Plans are underway to intensify efforts in post-graduate training where both medical and basic science graduates will work side by side and have the opportunity to obtain a joint Medical Faculty/EMBL PhD degree. Students and MMPU members will be able to actively integrate into EMBL seminars, symposia and journal clubs.
To study the effect of commonly used drugs on bacterial envelopes, EMBL scientists applied a biochemical assay using a colour reaction. The deeper the red, the stronger the disruptive effect of the drug.