DFG Research Unit "miTarget" at Kiel University enters second funding phase

The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the Research Unit 5042 "miTarget: The microbiome as a therapeutic target in chronic inflammatory bowel diseases" for a further four years.


The "miTarget" Research Unit has been investigating the role of the gut microbiome in chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) since 2020. Coordinator and spokesperson of the consortium is Professor Andre Franke, Director of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKBM) at Kiel University (CAU) and the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Kiel Campus, and steering committee member of the Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI). The DFG has now announced that it will fund the research project for a further four years with a total of almost 6.1 million euros. In the second funding phase, scientists from the IKMB and the Institute of Experimental Medicine at Kiel University, as well as the Max Planck Institute in Plön and the Helmholtz Zentrum München are mainly involved.

The gut microbiome, i.e. the sum of all microbes living in the gut, plays an important role in the development and progression of IBD. The composition of the gut microbiome is different in IBD patients than in healthy people. The diversity, i.e. the variety of microbes, is reduced in comparison. The composition of metabolic products that these microorganisms produce or process is also altered. As part of the miTarget consortium, the researchers are analyzing these changes in more detail and looking for certain patterns in these changes that are specific to the development of chronic intestinal inflammation and could serve as biomarkers. After a very successful first funding phase, "miTarget" is now starting with further innovative projects that build on the successes of the first four years. In the second phase, research work will focus on the mechanistic substantiation of the previous findings and their translation into the clinic.

DFG Research Units are among the DFG's most important funding programs and enable researchers to address current and pressing issues in their fields and establish innovative research directions.

group photo
© Soul Picture, Kiel University

Around 100 scientists met 2023 in Kiel at the International Symposium of the DFG Research Unit miTarget.

About the Cluster of Excellence PMI

The Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI) is being funded from 2019 to 2025 through the German Excellence Strategy (ExStra). It succeeds the "Inflammation at Interfaces” Cluster, which was already funded in two periods of the Excellence Initiative (2007-2018). Around 300 members from eight institutions at four locations are involved: Kiel (Kiel University, University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN)), Lübeck (University of Lübeck, University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH)), Plön (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology) and Borstel (Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center).

The goal is to translate interdisciplinary research findings on chronic inflammatory diseases of barrier organs to healthcare more intensively, as well as to fulfil previously unsatisfied needs of the patients. Three points are important in the context of successful treatment, and are therefore at the heart of PMI research: the early detection of chronic inflammatory diseases, the prediction of disease progression and complications, and the prediction of individual responses to treatment.

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Frederike Buhse
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