» Prof. Hans-J. Schnittler receives the WWU transfer prize 2011/2012

The transfer prize 2011/2012 of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität carries a value of 20.000 Euro and was ceremoniously presented to Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Schnittler of the Institute of Anatomy during the course of a celebratory event aboard the ferryboat "Solaaris" over Aasee. He receives this award for his project "BTF-system to generate shear stress on cultured cells" in cooperation with the company MOS-Technologies.

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The scientific focus of our institute is the theme of vascular biology, in particular the molecular mechanisms of endothelial cell biology which are relevant to physiological and pathological scientific questions. In addition, we promote interdisciplinary cooperation with clinical practitioners, virologists, bacteriologists and computer scientists at a national and international level.

The most important aspect of our work is to investigate the molecular mechanisms which control the regulation of the vascular endothelium. The endothelium comprises a thin line of cells only a few micrometers in thickness but which line the total inner surfaces of the heart and vascular system. Endothelium cells regulates the material exchange between the blood and underlying tissue, they are essential for the regulation of blood pressure and blood clotting, and are target cells in connection with the defences functions of the body during various inflammatory processes as a result of infections, allergies and tumorous diseases etc. It is important to note that endothelium cells are continuously exposed to haemodynamic tension due the blood stream and blood pressure. This mechanical stimulation dramatically alters the biology of the endothelium so that almost all physiological and pathological reactions are modified by this flow of fluids. To investigate these themes, we use primary cell cultures, cell lines and Mouse-“knockout” animal models. Currently, fundamental molecular investigations and mechanisms of the endothelial barrier function under infectious conditions (viral and bacterial agents) and the simultaneous influence of fluid shear stress (simulation of the blood flow) are of primary importance. Our laboratory has developed and established special techniques which enable the investigation of the endothelium. As well as classical biochemical, molecular biological and morphological methods, we have available a very efficient virus-based system of gene transduction (recombinant adenoviral and lentiviral vectors), a “BioTechFlow system” to expose cultivated cells to defined flow patterns, impedance spectroscopy to evaluate the endothelial barrier function, a high-performance spinning disk microscope and a super-resolution microscope which enables fluorescent live-cell imaging. In addition, we use further animal experimental approaches to investigate wound healing under infectious conditions and to investigate tumour biology.

 A description of individual topics can be found in the overview sections and personal histories of the staff members. Additional information about the scientific work of the Institute.