New research project on age-related diseases
Together with the German Cancer Research Center, Helmholtz Zentrum München will be coordinating a project called “Aging and Metabolic Programming”, or AMPro for short, over the next three years. All centers of the Helmholtz Health Research Section will be involved with the aim of exploring innovative prevention and treatment approaches to age-related diseases. Of the total funding of six million euros, around 1.7 million euros will remain at the Helmholtz Zentrum München.
The Helmholtz Association’s mission is to help resolve major and pressing societal, scientific and industrial issues. In this spirit, the Association addresses future-oriented topics and supports the respective research through funding programs. One of those future-oriented topics is the current rise in age-related diseases. To address this issue, in November 2017 the Helmholtz Association launched the AMPro project, which is being financed through the Initiative and Networking Fund*.
AMPro is being coordinated jointly by Prof. Dr. Stephan Herzig, Director of the Institute for Diabetes and Cancer at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, and Prof. Dr. Aurelio Teleman at the Department of Cancer and Metabolism-Associated Signal Transduction of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). Over the next three years, scientists from all centers of the Helmholtz Health Research Section** will receive a total of six million euros for their work, 1.7 million euros of which will remain at the Helmholtz Zentrum München.
“Significantly improving the quality of life of individuals”
Due to increasing life expectancy throughout the world, age-related diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular, respiratory and neurodegenerative diseases and chronic infections are emerging as a growing challenge for patients, doctors, the healthcare system and society as a whole.
Among other things, the AMPro consortium is seeking out new preventive and therapeutic approaches that have a positive effect on metabolic processes. This should enable the innovative and consistent treatment of age-related diseases. The following key aspects of metabolic processes associated with aging will be investigated:
• Prenatal and postnatal mechanisms of metabolic programming at the genetic and epigenetic levels
• Mechanisms of organ and tissue communication
• Tissue and cellular repair mechanisms
The long-term goal is to improve health in an aging society. “AMPro will enable us to significantly improve the health and quality of life of individuals and, in the mid-term, reduce the socioeconomic burdens on our society”, says coordinator Stephan Herzig. “AMPro creates ideal conditions for successfully tackling one of the most pressing issues in today’s society and meeting the challenges of age-related diseases.”
* The Initiative and Networking Fund is one of the Helmholtz Association’s key funding instruments. The Fund makes it possible to set initiatives rapidly and flexibly in areas where strategic goals are to be reached quickly. Its annual funding budget will grow from its current level of 89 million euros in 2016 to around 94 million euros in 2020.
** These are the follwing: German Cancer Research Center, Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen, Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine and the Helmholtz Zentrum München
The sensitivity to the aforementioned diseases is increasing during the ageing process. This suggests common fundamental molecular mechanisms but these are so far poorly understood. The aging process is characterized by a progressive change in the control of metabolism and the communication of various organs, as well as the ability to maintain and repair tissue functions. Age-dependent disorders are based on a complex interplay of behavior, genetic predisposition and environmental influences.
The following researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum München are also involved in the project: Prof. Dr. Johannes Beckers, Dr. Christian Gieger, Prof. Dr. Heiko Lickert, Dr. Jovica Ninkovic, Prof. Dr. Annette Peters, Dr. Maria Rohm, Prof. Dr. Robert Schneider, Prof. Dr. Matthias Tschöp, Dr. Siegfried Ussar and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wurst.
The Helmholtz Zentrum München, the German Research Center for Environmental Health, pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich and has about 2,300 staff members. It is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 37,000 staff members.
The Institute for Diabetes and Cancer (IDC) is a member of the Helmholtz Diabetes Center (HDC) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München and a partner in the joint Heidelberg-IDC Translational Diabetes Program. The Institute for Diabetes and Cancer is tightly integrated into the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) and into the special research area „Reactive Metabolites and Diabetic Complications“ at the Heidelberg University Medical School. The IDC conducts research on the molecular basis of severe metabolic disorders, including metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, as well as their roles in tumor initiation and progression.
Contact for the media:
Department of Communication, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg – Tel. +49 89 3187 2238 – Fax: +49 89 3187 3324 – E-mail:
Scientific Contact at Helmholtz Zentrum München:
Prof. Dr. Stephan Herzig, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health, Institute for Diabetes and Cancer, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg – Tel. +49 89 3187 1045, E-mail: