Charité – University Medicine Berlin

Principal Investigator: Gerd-R. Burmester

Main tasks in the project and previous experience relevant to those tasks:

Organisation description

The major interests of the group are the characterization of activated cell systems in rheumatoid arthritis, the analysis of biomarkers, notably autoantibodies and gene expression, and immunotherapy of inflammatory rheumatic diseases. The department has a strong interest in the analysis of autoantibodies in rheumatic diseases, and our research group discovered mutated citrullinated vimentin as a major autoantigen in rheumatoid arthritis with a high specificity and high predictive value for joint destruction. Moreover, cartilage autoantigen could be identified as important autoantigens in cellular immune responses in RA. In recent years, gene expression analysis in various cell types and tissues and upon treatment with biologics in RA has been performed. This revealed several new candidate genes involved in chronic inflammation and most notably a complement receptor (CD11c) as a predictive marker for therapeutic response to anti-TNF therapy. The group is highly involved in pivotal trials addressing targeted therapeutic approaches ranging from cytokine inhibitors, cell depleting therapy cyclooxygenase inhibitors to autologous stem cell therapy in rheumatic diseases. The group has built up bioinformatic competence with focus on microarray analysis and has generated an own online database with several thousands of analyzed microarrays from own and public resources.

Main tasks attributed in the project

The department will contribute to patient recruitment, to biobanking, to sample analysis for autoantibody profiles, gene expression profiles, protein marker patterns and to bioinformatic analysis. The latter will involve the generation of new tools for comparative analysis between murine and human transcriptome data, the linkage of genetic with transcriptome data and the development of tools for the analysis of cytometric profiles.

Short profile of the staff who will carry out the work:

Gerd-R. Burmester, MD, Prof. of Medicine M Clinician, Immunology, clinical trials Work package leader and scientific coordinator
Thomas Häupl, MD  rheumatoid arthritis, bioinformatics, transcriptomics, databases, biobanking, Work package leader
Marc Bonin, M Sc.  bioinformatics transcriptomics, database management
Till Soerensen, Dipl. Math. programming, statistics statistical analysis of cytometric profiles
Ulrike Haase, M. Sc. bioinformatics clinical database management
Silvia Pade  study nurse clinical data acquisition
Anja Wachtel technical assistance biobanking, sample management
Postdoc to be hired physician, internal medicine / rheumatology patient recruitment, management and clinical data analysis and interpretation