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23.04.2018

CRTD welcomes new research group leader Prof. Dr. Michael H. Sieweke

Prof. Dr. Michael Sieweke @ CRTD

Prof. Dr. Sieweke is the new research group leader for "Stem cell and macrophage biology" at the CRTD. The research area of the Sieweke group is at the interface of immunology and stem cell research. He is interested in how macrophages, long-lived mature cells of the immune system that are present in essentially every organ of the body, fulfil an emerging important role in tissue regeneration. He is exploring how they are generated, maintained and acquire specific functions.

In his previous research he showed together with his co-workers how the production of macrophages and related white blood cells can be stimulated at the level of blood stem cells by exploiting a naturally occurring mechanism: In the case of infections blood stem cells directly react to cytokines by generating more immune cells to fight pathogens. The hope is that in the future such a mechanism could, for example, help to establish a functional immune system more rapidly after bone marrow transplantation.

Furthermore he and his team discovered that mature tissue macrophages can also self-renew autonomously by activating a network of genes shared with embryonic stem cells that enables them to proliferate indefinitely. Based on these discoveries macrophages can be amplified in culture as mature differentiated cells, without stem cell intermediates or tumorigenic transformation. These results show the compatibility of self-renewal and differentiation and open the door for new macrophage based therapies.

For the future he hopes that the understanding and manipulation of macrophages will help to counteract the successive tissue degeneration occurring with advanced age by re-activating juvenile regeneration mechanisms.

Prof. Dr. Sieweke is an ERC advanced grant laureate. In 2018 he was awarded with an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship, which is with a value of five million EUR the most highly-endowed research award in Germany and draws top international researchers to German universities. One of his tasks at the CRTD will be to promote translation that is the medium-term medical implementation of research.

"I believe the immune system and in particular macrophages will be a key to understand regeneration. The CRTD is ideal to explore this potential. It brings together people working on diverse model systems of regeneration and has a unique proximity to the clinic."