Agents that modulate cGMP signaling pathways have emerged as one of the most successful areas in recent drug discovery and clinical pharmacology. Historically, the focus has been on cardiovascular disease phenotypes. However, compelling evidence, obtained as a result of previous work performed in Tübingen and Boston, suggests that cGMP’s relevance goes far beyond current cardiovascular indications. Hence, increasing our understanding of cGMP signaling in healthy and disease states in multiple cell- and tissue-types is a core goal of the proposed projects. In particular, the Research Training Group ("Graduiertenkolleg", GRK) at the University of Tübingen will collaborate with partners in Boston to translate clinical experience with cGMP drugs “back” from “bedside to bench”, which is also reflected by its title GRK 2381 “cGMP: From Bedside to Bench”. Doctoral researchers will interact with basic and clinical scientists who are experienced mentors, and they will also develop contacts with leading pharmaceutical companies, providing an exceptional educational environment.
An important element of the GRK is its strong international dimension. Each student will be co-mentored by a principal investigator in Boston who works on a related topic and she/he will visit the partner laboratory for a period of three months. Using state-of-the-art techniques and transgenic mouse models (developed by members of the GRK) fellows will gain critical new insights into cGMP’s role in cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurological disorders. They will not only elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms behind cGMP-based therapies currently used in the clinics. GRK projects will also define novel functions for cGMP pathways in different cell types and, thereby, identify novel indications as well as potential side effects of cGMP-modulating drugs. We anticipate that an enhanced understanding of the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of targeting cGMP signaling will facilitate translating the use of existing drugs to treat various important diseases. Based on an environment of scientific excellence, intensive co-mentoring, and a highly interactive, structured training program in multi-disciplinary skills and critical thinking, doctoral researchers of the GRK 2381 will be well-prepared for the challenges of the job market in academia and industry.