The goal: to find individual treatments
The researchers’ aim is to individualize medical treatments - because every patient responds differently to a certain active substance. The effects may be due for instance to the genetically individual supply of enzymes which among other things process medications. To improve treatments in particular for life-threatening conditions, researchers at the Interfaculty Center for Pharmacogenomics and Drug Research (IZEPHA) are seeking to explain the links between an individual’s genetic makeup, disposition to disease and the effective mechanisms of medication.
In its research, the Center bears in mind potential clinical applications. As with every new medical procedure, effectiveness and safety must be proven in trials. IZEPHA designs and carries out such trials. IZEPHA is a key partner of the Centre for Personalized Medicine, which contributes to the development of targeted treatments with the fewest side effects via its individualized diagnoses.
Also working at the transition point from pharmacology to clinical application is the Tübingen Center for Academic Drug Discovery & Development (TÜCAD2), which seeks to develop and optimize active substances to treat cancers, inflammations, and other diseases.
Close ties with Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea
Research into Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan - along with Cultural Anthropology, Indology, Oriental, and Mideast Studies are grouped within the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies.
The University of Tübingen was one of the first German universities to develop ties with Japan and China. Tübingen collaborates with Peking University in Beijing. The European Center for Chinese Studies (ECCS) there is to be expanded in the long term to reinforce our Chinese and China-related research. In Japan the University of Tübingen works with Dôshisha University in Kyôto at the Center for Japanese Studies. We have a third branch in the region, in Seoul, South Korea, at the Tübingen Center for Korean Studies at Korea University (TUCKU).
Taiwan is a further focus of Tübingen research in East Asia. The European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan (ERCCT) is a joint project between the University of Tübingen and Taiwan’s Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for Scholarly Research, which brings together the European Taiwan expertise in Tübingen.
From tiny particles to the universe
The research spectrum of scientists at the Kepler Center for Astro- and Particle Physics could hardly be broader – it stretches from elementary particles to the far reaches of the universe. The universe provides various particles from natural sources – as well as extreme conditions that could only be recreated with tremendous effort on Earth. The observation of particles in space provides new information about where they come from – black holes, neutron stars and supernovas. Finding out more about the development of stars and solar systems can also provide clues as to the origins of life. The Kepler Center combines the disciplines of experimental and theoretical Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics. Participating institutions in the Kepler Center are the Physics Institute, the Institute of Theoretical Physics and the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Translational – From basic research to the hospital bed
We need to bridge a gap in the road from basic research in the biomedical laboratory to imaging of the living body. The University of Tübingen’s Preclinical Imaging and Imaging Technology sets new standards in the field. By developing new tracers and biomarkers and using the latest imaging technologies, we gain fresh insights into the body, which can provide us with information on the normal physiological processes as well as processes altered by disease.
To this end we use PET and MRI scanning technologies as well as combined and multi-modal imaging. Our very close co-operation with the University Hospitals departments, particularly with Interventional Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Neuroradiology form the basis for a translation of the results into clinical research and diagnostics using small animal experiments. Numerous clinical fields such as Oncology, Neurology, Immunology as well as Biochemistry and Radiochemistry have been working interdisciplinarily and translationally with the Werner Siemens Imaging Center, part of Preclinical Imaging and Imaging Technology.
The department also plays an outstanding role in the development of new and innovative imaging modalities. Working with a technology firm, it developed the first PET insert for an MRI scanner. This is now used in many laboratories around the world, and has been introduced into hospitals.
The cell: a small entity in big need of research
Countless biochemical processes have to mesh together within every cell of every living thing. Scientists are still far from understanding the details of these highly complex events. Researchers at Tübingen’s Interfaculty Institute for Biochemistry (IFIB), which belongs to the Faculty of Science as well as the Medical Faculty, examine the molecular mechanisms underlying these biological and biochemical processes. They also investigate how such processes are disrupted by disease.
Biochemistry of body cells plays an important role in infections: How do disease-causing viruses and bacteria manage to penetrate cells and hide from the immune system? Answers to questions such as these provide new approaches to the development of more effective treatments.
Other fields of research in cell biochemistry are cell ageing and death, which are linked with cancer and degenerative diseases.
Tübingen’s collaborative research center The Bacterial Cell Wall is part of the major research area of cell biochemistry. In addition, the biochemistry of plant cells is one of the areas dealt with by the Center for Plant Molecular Biology (ZMBP) and its collaborative research center, 1101 Molecular Coding of Specificity in Plant Processes.
Matters affecting every discipline
The development and use of new security technologies, privacy and self-determination in the digital world, the relationship between humans and nature in sustainability research, cultural discourses on moral plurality, new methods in biomedical and gene technology - all these open up ethical questions, which are researched at the International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW).
Teaching ethics in schools, universities, and in the wider society are another key area of research. Complex ethical questions can only be answered through dialogue between the disciplines - so the Center brings together the Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences. The question of responsibility is one the disciplines themselves also discuss; at the same time, the Center cooperates with other groups in society across the disciplines. The Center works closely with the Institute of Ethics and History of Medicine, the Professor of Ethics, Theory and History of Biological Sciences and the Global Ethics Institute, an associated institute of the university.
Historical insights shed light on current events
History research in Tübingen is characterized by close ties with many other disciplines, such as the Philologies, Archaeologies, Cultural Anthropology, Sociology, Historical and Cultural Anthropology, Political Science, Medical Ethics, and the Theologies. This gives researchers at the History Department the opportunity to cover historically interrelated themes from a wide variety of sources in in-depth and broad-based analyses.
Answering questions raised by history is one approach for finding solutions to today’s problems. The collaborative research center 923 Threatened Orders is a good example of this. The collaborative research center investigates existential situations and their consequences – for example, financial crises, natural and technical disasters, terrorist attacks, and upheavals which have lasting effects on politics, economics, society, and culture. It makes us understand how fragile the foundations of trade and civil order are, and how dependent upon favorable conditions. Extreme situations can lead to rapid changes in social orders and to the interpretative and behavioral patterns of individuals and groups. The researchers analyze whether and how social groups or entire societies change when confronted with existential threats.
The Heidelberg Academy’s research unit “Johannes Malalas’ Chronographia” deals with the Byzantine historiographer born around 490 A.D. His world history in 18 volumes covers the time span from the beginnings of mankind to Malalas’ time of writing. The researchers are working on commentaries on the Chronographia and studying it as an unparalleled example of a historical record from the “Byzantine millennium.” The Chronographia is not only important for the reconstruction of the political history of the time, it also provides valuable insights into questions of mentality, culture, and religious history.
The University’s spectrum of research includes several profile areas, a number of collaborative research centers, Transregio collaborative research centers and research groups backed by the German Research Foundation (DFG).
The University plays a crucial role in the training of young researchers in DFG research training groups, as well as in the University’s own doctoral training groups with an interdisciplinary focus. These groups are incorporated into the Graduate Academy, set up to attract graduates both from within Germany and abroad.