Charité and BIH appoint Prof. Dr. Irina Lehmann
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) are strengthening translational lung research in Berlin. The appointment of Prof. Dr. Irina Lehmann as W3 (tenured) Professor in ‘Environmental Epigenetics and Lung Research’ represents an expansion of Charité’s translational lung research team in this newly established area of research focus.
Lung research at Charité benefits from a remarkably high number of experts. Prof. Dr. Norbert Suttorp, Head of the Medical Department, Division of Infectiology and Pulmonology, is one of these experts. Working alongside Prof. Dr. Martin Witzenrath, Prof. Dr. Leif Erik Sander, Prof. Dr. Bastian Opitz, Prof. Dr. Stefan Hippenstiel and Prof. Dr. Andreas Hocke, he is conducting research into lung diseases affecting adults. Charité’s Pediatric Pulmonology program is led by Prof. Dr. Marcus Mall, Head of the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pulmonology and Immunology. As Director of the Institute of Physiology, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Kübler’s research focuses on the processes underlying acute and chronic lung diseases. Prof. Lehmann’s appointment allows Charité to further expand its expertise. Through her focus on epigenetics, Prof. Lehmann, Charité’s newly appointed environmental immunology expert, will complement existing research efforts.
“Berlin’s lung disease research, which comprises outstanding experts in both internal medicine and surgery, now boasts the full spectrum of expertise from basic research to clinical practice, across all age groups. This will allow us to promote and give fresh impetus to this field of increasing relevance,” says Prof. Dr. Axel Radlach Pries, Dean of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.
Prof. Lehmann’s research focuses on the causes and underlying mechanisms of early childhood diseases having a high risk for transition to adulthood. She uses longitudinal cohort studies, which provide the opportunity to follow children from birth on until the first onset of disease symptoms. The aim of her research is to obtain a better understanding of molecular mechanisms driving disease development and sensitive time windows. “Our research will help to identify patients at high risk for disease development thus allowing individualized preventive and therapeutic measures,” explains Prof. Lehmann.
At Charité, Prof. Lehmann will focus in particular on epigenetic mechanisms involved in the development of allergies and lung disease during childhood. “We want to find out how epigenetic processes contribiute to the interplay between a person’s genetic predisposition and environmental factors, and which key events determine the transition from a healthy status to disease,” says Prof. Lehmann.
Infectious diseases of the lung represent another Charité’s main research areas: “Our future activities will focus on the development of innovative treatments for pneumonia; going beyond the mere use of antibiotics, acting via speeding up tissue repair or increasing the alveolar immune response,” explains Prof. Suttorp. “We also want to promote advances in diagnostics. New biomarkers will enable us to improve both the speed and accuracy of tests to determine the type and severity of lung infections”, explains Prof. Suttorp.
Lung diseases in young children represent a further research focus at the Charitè. Another event that helped strengthen lung research at Charité was the appointment of Prof. Mall on 1st February 2018. As a specialist in pediatric pulmonology, he studies the development of cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition that causes severe and chronic lung disease. “Our aim is the rapid transfer of research findings from the laboratory to clinical practice, in order to improve the diagnosis and treatment of children and adolescents suffering from cystic fibrosis and other serious lung diseases,” says Prof. Mall.
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