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Faculty of Medicine Research Areas

Molecular Cell Research and Innovative Treatments

Biological signal processes form the basis of life for all of an organism’s cells. Understanding these processes is fundamental for medical research since they play a central role in the emergence of many diseases.

The Cluster of Excellence “CIBSS - Centre for Integrative Biological Signalling Studies” is pivotal for the “Molecular Cell Research and Innovative Treatments” research area. The goal of the scientists involved is to gain a comprehensive understanding of signaling processes across biological scales. The CIBSS Research Team will use this knowledge to develop strategies to precisely control signaling processes. This will not only accelerate research, but also fuel innovation addressing important challenges in biomedicine and plant sciences.

Scientists of the Collaborative Research Center 1381 “Dynamic organization of cellular protein machineries: From biogenesis and modular assembly to function” are investigating  how protein machineries control dynamic processes in a living cell and how disruptions of the protein machinery function can lead to illnesses.

Immunology and Infectious Diseases

The human immune system developed to defend the body from infection. But when it is not properly controlled, it can also attack the very body it is meant to defend, leading to severe inflammations. Scientists of the research area “Immunology and Infectious Diseases” are investigating infectious diseases (e.g. caused by hepatitis viruses, Staphylococcus, influenza) and inflammatory diseases (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatism, graft-versus-host disease) in order to gain an understanding of the human immune system.

Researchers of the Collaborative Research Centre 1160 “Immune-mediated pathology as a consequence of impaired immune reactions (IMPATH)" want to contribute to a better understanding of immune-mediated pathology resulting from impaired immune reactions. In the Collaborative Research Centre/ Transregio 179 “Determinants and dynamics of elimination versus persistence of hepatitis virus infection”, scientists investigate the complex interplay of multiple host and viral parameters that govern the outcome of hepatitis virus infections. A key player is the Center for Chronic Immunodeficiency in Freiburg, a hub that brings together the collective scientific knowledge of immunodeficiency — the only one of its kind in all of Germany. The goal of the doctors and scientists there is to better understand the causes of immunodeficiencies and improve the diagnosis and treatment of the associated diseases.

Medical Epigenetics, Functional Genetics and Metabolism Research

Epigenetics is a relatively new field of research concerned with mechanisms of heredity which extend beyond genetic determination. These mechanisms leave behind dynamic changes in the epigenetic patterns dependent on shifting environmental conditions such as diet, stress and medication. The analysis and interpretation of these patterns should contribute to a better understanding of how illnesses emerge and identify new diagnostic and treatment methods. On the basis of the Collaborative Research Center 992 “Medical Epigenetics — From Basic Mechanisms to Clinical Applications (MEDEP)”, the Faculty of Medicine in Freiburg, in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, has developed into an internationally recognised hub for this cutting-edge research area.

Metabolism research focuses on the integration of the metabolism and its central organelle, the mitochondrion, with specific cellular functions and signal-transduction processes. In clinical and basic research, scientists in Freiburg are investigating how the metabolism contributes both to the normal functioning of cells and the body and to the pathogenesis of various diseases. They are also working to develop innovative strategies for precise therapeutic manipulation of the metabolism.

Oncology and Functional Imaging

Tumour research has a long history in Freiburg, and the German Research Foundation has funded many Collaborative Research Centers (CRCs) on oncology. The CRC 850 “Control of Cell Motility in Morphogenesis, Cancer Invasion and Metastasis”, which investigates the spread of malignant tumours, is currently at the centre of the research activities. The results of the tumour research will be put into practice in patient care at the Medical Center – University of Freiburg, with the Comprehensive Cancer Center — awarded by German Cancer Aid as a national centre of oncological excellence — and the German Cancer Consortium in Freiburg acting as a vital bridge.


One in three people is affected at some point in their life by a neurological disorder such as Parkinson’s or epilepsy. Since the 1980s, investigation of the brain and its functions as well as the development of new methods for treating neurological disorders have become key research areas at the Faculty of Medicine in Freiburg, gaining traction on an international level. A wide spectrum is covered by the work that is done there, ranging from research on molecular biological processes in the central nervous system and nerve-cell-communication to patient studies at the Medical Center – University of Freiburg.

Freiburg is known for the exceptional interdisciplinary collaboration of its neuroscientists in transregional research associations. The Collaborative Research Center/Transregio 167 “Development, function and potential of myeloid cells in the central nervous system (NeuroMac)” initiated in 2017, focuses on immunological responses in the brain.


Faculty of Medicine Emerging Field

Cardiovascular Research

Diseases of the cardiovascular system are the most common cause of illness and death worldwide. They are associated with tissue remodelling processes (from atherosclerosis and aneurisms to cardiac fibrosis and scarring), whose effects on patient well-being – in spite of impressive progress of surgical, interventional, and pharmacological therapeutic strategies – are still poorly understood. Vascular research at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Freiburg is focussed on the mechanistic characterisation of inflammatory responses and the development of immune-modulatory and minimally-invasive therapeutic strategies. Basic and applied cardiac studies explore type and properties on non-myocytes, and their interaction with other cells in lesioned myocardium.

The activities focusing on cell type characterisation, inflammation- and immune responses, tissue architecture, cardiac mechanics, and electrophysiology have been merged in the scientific growth-area ‘Cardiovascular Research’ with traditionally strong clinical research. This has culminated in the inauguration of the Collaborative Research Centre CRC1425 in July 2020, dedicated to 'The heterocellular nature of cardiac lesions: Identities, Interactions, Implications'. The Centre brings together 26 research groups who are studying the fundamental biomedical processes of cardiac scar formation, with the aim of developing new diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities, to ‘make better scars’.



Current Projects and Programmes (national)


Collaborative Research Centres (CRC)

  • CRC 850: Control of Cell Motility in Morphogenesis, Cancer Invasion and Metastasis
  • CRC 992: Medical Epigenetics - From basic mechanisms to clinical applications (MEDEP)
  • CRC 1015: Otium. Boundaries, Chronotopes, Practices (Participation)
  • CRC 1160: Immune-mediated pathology as a consequence of impaired immune reactions (IMPATH)
  • CRC 1177: Molecular and Functional Characterization of Selective Autophagy (Participation)
  • CRC 1381: Dynamic Organization of Cellular Protein Machineries: From Biogenesis and Modular Assembly to Function
  • CRC 1425: Heterocellular Nature of Cardiac Lesions: Identities, Interactions, Implications (ScarCare)
  • CRC 1453: Nephrogenetics (NephGen)
  • CRC 1479: Oncogene-driven immune escape (OncoEscape)


CRC/Transregio (TRR)

  • CRC/TRR 130: B cells:Immunity and Autoimmunity (Participation)
  • CRC/TRR 152: TRiPs to Homeostasis. Maintenance of Body Homeostasis by Transient Receptor Potential Channel Modules (Participation)
  • CRC/TRR 167: Development, function and potential of myeloid cells in the central nervous system (NeuroMac)
  • CRC/TRR 179: Determinants and dynamics of elimination versus persistence of hepatitis virus infection (Participation)


DFG-Research Units (FOR)

  • FOR 2036: New insights into Bcl-2 family interactions: from biophysics to function (Participation)
  • FOR 2127: Selection and adaptation during metastatic cancer progression (Participation)
  • FOR 2143: Interneuron Synaptic Plasticity - From Mechanisms to Higher Brain Functions
  • FOR 2438: Cell Plasticity in Colorectal Carcinogenesis (Participation)
  • FOR 2674: Aging-related epigenetic remodeling in acute myeloid leukemia
  • FOR 2830: Advanced Concepts in Cellular Immune Control of Cytomegalovirus (Participation)


Graduate Schools (GSC) / Integrated Research Training Groups (IRTG) / Research Training Groups (GRK)

  • GSC 4: Spemann Graduate School of Biology and Medicine (SGBM)
  • IRTG (integrated CRC 850): Control of Cell Motility in Morphogenesis, Cancer Invasion and Metastasis
  • IRTG (integrated CRC 992): Medical Epigenetics (MEDEP)
  • GRK 1767: Factual and Fictional Narration (Participation)
  • GRK 1976Functional Diversity of Cofactors in Enzymes (Participation)
  • GRK 2202: Transport across and into membranes (Participation)
  • GRK 2344: MeInBio - BioInMe: Exploration of spatio-temporal dynamics of gene regulation using high-throughput and high-resolution methods
  • GRK 2606: Understanding protease functions in cellular pathways through discovery and analysis of protease substrates (ProPath)


Priority Programmes (SPP)

  • SPP 2002: Small Proteins in Prokaryotes, an Unexplored World (Participation)
  • SPP 2177: Radiomics: Next Generation of Biomedical Imaging


Structured young researchers programs


Excellence Strategy: Cluster of Excellence


Excellence Initiative: Cluster of Excellence


Joint research projects


National Cohort (NaKo)

The Institute for Prevention and Cancer Epidemiology is one of 18 study centers throughout Germany. Between 2013 and 2017 10.000 people from all over Germany had already participated in the study in Freiburg.


Participations on German Health Research Centers