The University of Cologne, established in 1388, is the largest German University and one of eleven German Elite Universities. The Medical Faculty has two Max‐Plank Institutes for high‐profile basic science on campus and has its research focused on age‐related diseases, inflammation and regeneration. There are several excellence clusters and priority research groups of the German Research Foundation (DFG) at site. Two Max‐Planck institutes in age‐related medicine and regeneration allow for ample basic science cooperation options. The Dept. of Ophthalmology is one of the largest in Germany with the highest number of inpatient treatments in 2014. International areas of expertise are corneal transplant surgery, glaucoma surgery, retinal surgery, strabismology and tumor therapy. The Department currently performs the highest number of lamellar minimally invasive corneal transplants in Germany and also has a strong expertise in artificial corneal transplantation. The Department has a strong focus on translational research and comprises 37 full time physicians and scientists. There are two reading centers for phase II‐IV studies and one clinical trial center in the Department with > 20 ingoing phase II‐IV clinical trials. The research is funded by the recently established priority research group FOR 2240 (“Lymphangiogenesis and cellular immunity in inflammatory diseases of the eye”) by the German Research Foundation (DFG), as well as by two EU research grants (COST Action BM1302 “Joining Forces in Corneal Transplantation” is chaired in Cologne by Prof. Cursiefen; the reading center for EU FP7 STRONG Study is in Cologne), by Bayer Graduate School in Pharmacology and ample support from Industry and private foundations. The translational research activity is focussed on the areas of corneal transplant immunology and corneal hem‐ and lymphangiogenesis. There is an established ongoing cooperation with the Lübeck Laser Center in terms of imaging in ophthalmology. The Dept. of Ophthalmology therefore is perfectly suited to conduct studies on imaging and regression of corneal lymphangiogenesis since it is a well known international center of Excellence in these topics and has ample facilities and patients for translational studies based on basic science research.
Main roles in the project
- WP3: responsible for the clinical trial conduct at Dept. of Ophthalmology, University of Cologne
- WP6: responsible as a leader of WP6, especially Objectives 6.4.-6.6
- WP8: contribution to dissemination and exploitation
Key persons involved
Claus Cursiefen (male) – PhD, Professor, Principal investigator
Prof Cursiefen is Chairman and Professor at the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Cologne, Germany, and Adjunct Associate Scientist, Schepens Eye Research Institute/Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA. Professor Cursiefen did his medical studies at the Universities of Regensburg, Würzburg, St. Andrews/Dundee, London and Malta and ophthalmological training at University of Erlangen‐Nürnberg. Professor Cursiefen has a PhD in corneal lymphangiogenesis, and did his DFG‐Postdoctoral training at Schepens Eye Research Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston. From 2004‐2011 he was consultant and Professor Dept. of Ophthalmology, University of Erlangen, Director of Cornea bank, and Project leader in Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research (IZKF) Erlangen and in SFB 643 Priority research Programme of DFG (German Research Council). Since 2011 he is a Chairman and Professor at the Dept. of Ophthalmology, University of Cologne. Other appointments are: Action Chair EU COST BM1302, Speaker FOR 2240 of German Research Council DFG, Board member of Section Cornea of German Ophthalmological Society, President NEXCR, Network of Excellence on Corneal Regeneration, Board member Cologne Center for Molecular Medicine. Professor Cursiefen has a clinical and research focus in corneal transplantation, artificial cornea and ocular surface regeneration. Supported by DFG, EU, Industry. He has more than 250 peer‐reviewed papers e.g. in PNAS, JEM, JCI and Nature Medicine. Responsibilities in the proposed research: Principal Investigator, Lead WP 6 and conduct clinical trial, participate in dissemination and exploitation activities.
Maria Notara, PhD (female) – PhD, Deputy principal investigator
Dr Notara is Research Fellow at Experimetal Ophthalmology, Dept. of Ophthalmology (female). Expert in lymphangiogenesis studies and molecular biology of corneal neovascularisation. Expert on corneal epithelial stem cell biology (PhD University of London). Responsibilities in the proposed research: Experimental studies on antilymphangiogenic therapy.