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Translational Research

Innovative, focused on patients’ needs and based on science

Translational research – from basic research to patient´s benefit

A close collaboration between basic research, clinical applications and medical device companies as well as the rapid transfer of research results into applications for the benefit of patients (= translation) are the primary goals of University Medicine Erlangen.

The Deutsches Zentrum Immuntherapie (DZI) follows a long tradition of the FAU’s Faculty of Medicine in immunology research of inflammatory diseases and cancer.

The medical doctors and scientists at the DZI not only care for patients through inpatient and outpatient clinics, they also support research projects investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of diseases, develop new treatment approaches and thus contribute to advancements in medicine. In close collaboration of outpatient clinics and research scientists the therapeutic benefits of new therapies are investigated in clinicaltrials.
Patients benefit from the expertise of our medical doctors particularly in the field of molecular immunology.

The research activities of the participating hospitals at DZI are listed below.

For details of:

  • Research focus areas
  • Organisational units and projects
  • Research funding and young scientists
  • Research reports

of the Faculty of Medicine please see 


The research priority of the Department of Medicine 1 is the investigation of the functions and interactions of genes and proteins that are closely linked with the onset of illness in the intestines, liver and lungs. In addition to already established techniques in immunology, molecular biology and cell biology, the Department is developing increasingly innovative and interdisciplinary verification methods.



The Department of Medicine 3 focuses on translational and clinical research into inflammation in order to investigate the mechanisms behind the origins and progression of inflammatory rheumatic diseases and autoimmune diseases. The main focus of its experimental research is decoding the interaction between immune cells and cells in the organs affected. In addition to studies into the efficacy of medication, clinical research also focuses on interdisciplinary collaboration for optimising imaging methods.



The scientific focus of the Department of Medicine 5 is on tumour immunology. It investigates fundamental immunological mechanisms in the development of tumours, tumour defence, and immune evasion. Its research activities are particularly concerned with the characterisation and blocking of undesired graft versus host disease (GvHD) after allogenic stem cell transplants (AlloSCT) and targeted amplification of the desired graft versus leukaemia reaction. Findings from this research are used to develop innovative cell-based drugs.

The research priority of the department is the analysis of immunological mechanisms for the destruction of cancer cells and the development of novel immunological strategies for treating malignant diseases.

Findings from this work have already led to various clinical studies for cellular immune therapies in patients with malignant diseases (adoptive transfer of antigen-specific T cells, tumour vaccinations). Furthermore, the isolation and characterisation of human regulatory T lymphocytes as well as their role in controlling graft versus host reactions after allogenic bone marrow transplants are also of key importance.

The research activities of the Department of Dermatology focus in particular on skin cancer (melanoma) and inflammatory skin conditions. Melanoma research focuses on the pathogenesis, immune defence, cellular immune therapy and tumour biomarkers. Projects exploring the biology of dendritic cells (DC), the optimisation of a personalised DC vaccine, the development of CAR T cells,the function of extra cellular vesicles in plasma and multi-antigen analysis of tissue samples are of particular interest. The Department of Dermatology has also developed studies on HIV, autoimmune dermatoses and the Merkel-cell carcinoma  and established close links between fundamental molecular and immunological research and clinical applications.


The research priorities of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology are oriented towards the clinical focus of its seven certified centres. The main research priority is translational and clinical phase I-IV trials, health services research, studies into genetics (trial coordination centre), biomaterial studies (Biobank headquarters) and genome analyses in the context of digitalisation and artificial intelligence (centre for biostatistics and computer science). The Laboratory for Molecular Medicine and the Laboratory for Reproductive Medicine are central infrastructure units at the Department. The Laboratory for Molecular Medicine performs research into breast, ovarian and cervical cancer, endometriosis, and developmental conditions during pregnancy. Researchers at the Laboratory for Reproductive Medicine investigate artificial organs and cryoconservation for restoring fertility after cancer treatment. Patients at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology greatly benefit from the Department’s broad research profile in gynaecology and obstetrics. The Department provides its patients with access to national and international clinical studies delivering innovative approaches to therapy at an early stage.


The Department of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery is one of the largest of its kind in Germany and has an extensive research profile. Clinical research at the Department focuses on ultrasound, the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the salivary glands, tumours and voice disorders, balance and hearing disorders, sleep medicine and allergology. These fields are reflected in the Department’s fundamental research: machine learning methods are used to understand the processes behind hearing and speech control enabling treatment to be optimised (personalised medicine). The Department investigates neurophysiological mechanisms of tinnitus, the development of therapies for the treatment of tinnitus and the analysis of spatio-temporal cortical activation patterns using artificial neural networks for sleep diagnosis. Fundamental processes in voice generation are simulated using numerical and experimental models and analysed using machine learning processes. Another research area that has a strong interdisciplinary approach is nanomedicine, which includes translational projects and fundamental research at the Department.

Research at the Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine focuses on perinatal medicine. It conducts experimental, pre-clinical and clinical trials that focus on medical conditions. Further research focus areas include paediatric oncology and neuropaediatrics. The Department has its own trial coordination centre which is also a training centre for drug information.


The main aim of the Department of Neurology, which is one of the largest of its kind in Germany, is improving the treatments available for neurological diseases. The Department of Neurology conducts research into all fields of neurology including epilepsy, the autonomous nervous system, degenerative brain conditions, neurooncology, neuromuscular dieseases, somatosensation and pain, neurovascular conditions and multiple sclersosis and neuroimmunology



The Department of Molecular Neurology deals with research into changes in cells, behavioural biology and pathology associated with neurodegenerative diseases. Modern stem cell technologies are an important aspect of patient-centred fundamental research. The neurological outpatient clinic at the University not only cares for patients with neurodegenerative movement disorders, but also aims to improve the diagnostics and care for these patients. This area of care is incorporated into several international studies specific for different medical conditions. In addition, the Department develops medical engineering applications for optimising diagnostics and objective monitoring of patients with movement disorders in an interdisciplinary consortium.



The scientific focus of the Institute of Radiology is on clinical and translational research where various working groups and projects evaluate the clinical value of new imaging methods and these methods are optimised and further developed. Its Imaging Science Institute is operated as an interdisciplinary research institute in conjunction with Siemens Healthineers. In addition, experimental and pre-clinical methods are firmly integrated into the Institute’s research.


Research activities in Stem Cell Biology focus on modelling of diseases of the nervous system using human stem-cell based models. This involves generating pluripotent stem cells from somatic cells taken from patients and test persons. Researchers are primarily concerned with neurodegeneration and regeneration in stem-cell based models of Parkinson’s and degenerative motor neuron diseases such as hereditary spastic spinal paralysis or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, focusing on the analysis of structural and functional deficits. A further research focus is the interaction between neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation.


The Department investigates the clinical, physical, biological or immunological aspects of radiation oncology either alone or in combination with immunotherapy. The clinical aspects of radiotherapy combined with immunotherapy and chemotherapy involve conducting phase I, II and III trials. The Department’s research focus areas involve translational and fundamental investigations of various combinations of radiobiological and immunotherapy treatments. Further research projects include determining and balancing the flexibility of organs during radiotherapy, checking the geometry of implants during brachytherapy, as well as physical development of clinical radiotherapy.


The research activities of the Department of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery include a broad spectrum of new diagnostic methods and innovative strategies for treating musculoskeletal conditions. Three-dimensional movement analyses and new imaging methods form the basis for the early detection of injuries and improved definition of the underlying pathological mechanisms. In terms of therapy, an important focus lies on researching and establishing therapies that preserve and replace joints. As a national trauma centre and major trauma centre research into patient care is also of utmost importance to the Department of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery.


The research activities of the Department of Urology and Paediatric Urology include both fundamental research as well as translational research into urology, focusing on high standards in statistical evaluations. The Department’s research is based on a well annotated tissue and data bank and includes active participation and design of multi-centre clinical studies in Europe that have received EU funding for treating patients with urological tumours.