From the Director

Portrait of Prof. Wolfram-Hubertus Zimmermann, Director of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

We employ systems-focused approaches to decipher the complex cellular processes underlying heart failure development with the aim of defining novel therapeutic strategies. Inputs from developmental biology and aging processes are exploited to identify novel drug targets in cardiomyocytes, non-myocytes, and the extracellular stroma to protect and regenerate the heart. A key challenge is to define primary and secondary processes in heart failure pathology for optimal design of therapeutic strategies.

The majority of patients with heart failure present severe structural and functional cardiac impairments with limited responsiveness to classical pharmacological treatment. These patients may benefit from reconstruction of functional myocardium using stem cell-based tissue engineering. The Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology employs state-of-the-art concepts from pharmacology and biomedical engineering to establish proof-of-concept and translate individualized tissue engineered heart repair.

Tissue engineering enables us to build three-dimensional culture systems with organotypic structure and function. Additional development of different organ surrogates to simulate disease processes and develop novel therapeutics for organ protection and regeneration is ongoing at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. The availability of stem cells from individual patients creates the opportunity to devise novel pharmacological, gene-based, and cell-based approaches for individualized treatments in patients with heart failure, skeletal muscle disease, and neurological disorders.

In addition to our activities in research and education of students in medicine and natural sciences we offer professional consultant services pertaining to drug therapy.

Prof. Dr. med. Wolfram-Hubertus Zimmermann

Recent Publications

  • Zimmermann WH. Remote control of the heart and beyond. Science. 2022 May 27;376(6596):917-918. doi: 10.1126/science.abq0605. Epub 2022 May 26. PMID: 35617399.
  • Tiburcy M, Meyer T, Satin PL, Zimmermann WH. Defined Engineered Human Myocardium for Disease Modeling, Drug Screening, and Heart Repair. Methods Mol Biol. 2022;2485:213-225. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-2261-2_14. PMID: 35618908.
  • Jung P, Seibertz F, Fakuade FE, Ignatyeva N, Sampathkumar S, Ritter M, Li H, Mason FE, Ebert A, Voigt N. Increased cytosolic calcium buffering contributes to a cellular arrhythmogenic substrate in iPSC-cardiomyocytes from patients with dilated cardiomyopathy. Basic Res Cardiol. 2022 May 2;117(1):5. doi: 10.1007/s00395-022-00912-z. PMID: 35499658.

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"Heart patch" made from stem cells to repair heart muscle in heart failure

Video in German

The BioVAT-HF-DZHK20 study is investigating the use of heart muscle tissue from stem cells in patients with severe heart failure. The incorporation of laboratory-grown heart muscle tissue is intended to improve the pumping function of diseased hearts in the long term. The multicenter clinical trial will start with the recruitment of patients with severe cardiac insufficiency in Göttingen.

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