The scientists in the cluster have access to state-of-the-art research infrastructure. Many of the facilities were established during the previous funding phase of the Excellence Initiative in the predecessor cluster "Inflammation at Interfaces", and some are still under construction. A key focus of the cluster is on sequencing technologies and large biobanks. But there are also state-of-the-art facilities for stem cell research and imaging.
Founded in 2009, the Comprehensive Centers for Inflammation Medicine (CCIM) are large outpatient clinics for inflammatory diseases at the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel and Lübeck. Through close cooperation between different specialists, they enable the best possible patient care. The goal of the centers is to facilitate interdisciplinary treatment of patients with serious chronic inflammatory diseases as efficiently and quickly as possible.
The CCIMs are also responsible for the creation and characterization of clinical cohorts for research purposes, and provide access to new treatments and diagnostic approaches, most of which have been developed in the predecessor cluster "Inflammation at Interfaces".
The cluster’s Sequencing Center is specialized in so-called "Next Generation Sequencing", i.e. a state-of-the-art, high-resolution sequencing process for ultra-high throughput. Using this technology, several hundred patient genomes can be decoded within a short period of time, for example. The Kiel Sequencing Center is one of the largest of its kind in Germany. The cluster’s Sequencing Center is affiliated with the „Competence Centre for Genome Analysis Kiel“ (CCGA Kiel) in the Centre for Molecular Biosciences (ZMB) (LINK). The CCGA is one of four German competence centers for next generation sequencing, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).
The heads and staff at the Sequencing Center use their combined expertise to advise colleagues on new research projects, and assist with the analysis of the resulting huge volumes of data.
The universities in Kiel and Lübeck possess highly-standardized, comprehensive biobank infrastructures, which support a variety of research projects. The main biobank activities in Kiel as well as in the Research Center Borstel take place under the organizational leadership of the PopGen 2.0 Netzwerks (P2N). The biobank activities in Lübeck are coordinated by the Interdisciplinary Center for Biobanking - Lübeck (ICB-L).
The PopGen biobank is an important resource for the Cluster of Excellence. It contains more than 500,000 samples and data from around 70,000 patients with various diseases as well as control groups which are representative of the population. The infrastructures of PopGen meet the highest quality, data privacy and security standards, and thus enjoy great confidence among the ranks of the cluster researchers. Thus, the PopGen biobank and the PopGen 2.0 Network (P2N) are central prerequisites for excellent clinical research in PMI.
The PopGen biobank and the Institute of Epidemiology are also involved in the implementation of the NAKO health study, the largest nationwide population study to date. The PopGen biobank and the Institute of Epidemiology oversee NAKO study research in Schleswig-Holstein, in which a total of 9,500 people from Schleswig-Holstein are comprehensively medically examined and interviewed, and relevant biological samples are also collected. Throughout Germany, 200,000 people between the ages of 18 and 69 are involved in the NAKO health study, and are supervised by the responsible study center for around 30 years, i.e. regularly interviewed and examined.
In one of its central projects, the Medical Faculty of Kiel University is developing a data management infrastructure for medical research data (medFDM) at the Kiel campus. This infrastructure provides users with sufficient storage space as well as various data management tools. The primary goal is to enable scientists to manage their research data according to FAIR principles.
As a data management portal, the YOur DAta (YODA) system developed at the University of Utrecht is currently being adapted to the conditions in Kiel. YODA will be used in everyday scientific life to facilitate users' everyday data management tasks (upload, download, sharing) and to enrich research data with descriptive metadata. Another standard tool will be a data warehouse for clinical data i2b2/tranSMART, which will be used for data exploration.
In cooperation with the data management group of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology and the cluster office, further technical possibilities for the quality control of research data, as well as their evaluation and graphic representation, will be developed and offered.
The Ancient DNA Laboratory is part of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology at the Medical Faculty of Kiel University.Through its integration into the two Clusters of Excellence PMI and ROOTS at Kiel University, the Ancient DNA Laboratory forms an interface between medicine and archaeology.
Its heart is the clean room that is needed to process the small amounts of highly degraded DNA typically found in old skeletal remains. Special extraction and enrichment methods have been established which allow the sequencing and analysis of ancient genomes or specific genes of interest, such as the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) and other immune genes.
The main aim is to investigate to what extent selection events in past populations have influenced the frequency of present-day risk alleles. Evolutionary adaptations to changes in human diet and pathogens over the last 10,000 years are thought to underlie susceptibility to modern immune-mediated diseases. This research provides a better understanding of molecular processes in diseases,, e.g. chronic inflammatory diseases, and may ultimately facilitate the development of new treatment approaches.
The Ancient DNA Lab which is the specialized laboratory for ancient DNA, is part of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology at Kiel University (CAU). Its core is the cleanroom, which is needed to process the tiny amounts of highly degraded DNA that are typically found in ancient skeletal remains.
The ZMB is a prestigious new building on the Kiel University campus, whose concept is determined by interdisciplinary and scientific interaction. The combination of research groups from the Faculties of Medicine, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, and Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences at Kiel University were the basis for the new ZMB building. The ZMB hosts the essential platforms and infrastructures of the Cluster of Excellence PMI, e.g. the PopGen biobank samples and the Competence Centre for Genome Analysis Kiel (CCGA Kiel). The operation of these platforms is the responsibility of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB).
The National Reference Center for Mycobacteria at the Research Center Borstel, appointed by the Federal Ministry of Health and the Robert Koch Institute, is involved in coordinating measures in the fight against and monitoring of tuberculosis (TB).
The tasks include analysis of approximately 15,000 samples per year, for the detection and identification of mycobacteria as well as sensitivity testing, the development, improvement and evaluation of new techniques for faster diagnosis of TB, as well as "DNA fingerprinting" for the detection of infection chains. The center handles more than 3000 inquiries per year for the diagnosis and therapy of mycobacterioses and is also internationally networked as the Supranational Reference Centre for Mycobacteria of the World Health Organisations. Thus, in recent years, one of the world's most extensive genetic databases for tuberculosis bacteria has been developed in Borstel.
The Molecular Imaging North Competence Center (MOIN CC) at Kiel University provides a technology and cooperation platform for researchers and companies in the life science sector. One of the focal points is molecular imaging, which is regarded as one of the most dynamic innovation and growth areas in the field of biomedical engineering.
The MOIN CC is operated by the Departments of Biomedical Imaging, Radiology and Neuroradiology at the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH). The laboratory was primarily established as a central unit for academic users. However, through "MOIN Services", it also provides imaging services for the private sector and biomedical companies in Northern Germany and beyond.