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Research Groups and Technology Platforms

The DRFZ Research Groups

There are 25 research groups and 5 technology platforms at the DRFZ. In the descriptions used here, red stands for “Pathophysiology of Rheumatic Inflammation”, green for “Epidemiology and Health Services Research”, orange for “Regenerative Rheumatology” and violet for Technology Platforms.

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Pathophysiology of Rheumatic Inflammation

This programme area is investigating the causes of chronic rheumatic inflammation. Central questions are: how are these diseases initiated and what maintains them? How can they be cured in a targeted and definitive way? The research goal is therefore to design selective and curative therapies. In order to be able to use these therapies effectively, researchers are also developing prognostic biomarkers to reliably assess the course of the disease and the response to a specific form of therapy.

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Epidemiology and Health Care Research

This programme area has the task of investigating clinical, social and biological factors influencing the course of rheumatic diseases; investigating the complex interplay of disease-related and treatment-related risks; and evaluating the quality of rheumatological health care. The overarching goal is to improve the quality of life of children and adults suffering from rheumatic diseases, to make treatments safer and to make policy-makers aware of gaps in health care. This is based on large epidemiological studies conducted in close cooperation with around 500 paediatric and adult rheumatologists throughout Germany.

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Regenerative Rheumatology

This programme area tries to find ways to regenerate tissue that has been destroyed by chronic degenerative diseases. The aim of the programme area is to gain a better understanding of the biology of cartilage-forming cells, and to influence cartilage formation in such a way that stable cartilage is rebuilt in affected joints in the long-term. Therapeutic oligonucleotides play an important role in this process: their suitability for the manipulation of chondrocytes and their precursors will be tested in animal models.

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Technology platforms and service laboratories

In cooperation with its partners from the Charité and the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, the DRFZ operates a state-of-the-art technology platform for the analysis of individual immune cells.  In the so-called “Shared Resource Laboratories” (SRL), the cells are identified and isolated so that they can be further analyzed in molecular and functional studies. In the service laboratories we receive technological and logistical support for the standardization and quality-control of our studies.