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uni'wissen 01-2014_ENG

Prof. Dr. Roland Schüle is scientific director of the Department of Urology at the Freiburg University Medical Center, a member of the Cluster of Excellence BIOSS Centre for Biological Signal- ling Studies of the University of Freiburg, and director of collaborative research center 992 “Medical Epigenetics.” Schüle studied biochemistry at the University of Tübingen, where he earned his doctorate in 1988. Afterwards he worked in La Jolla, USA; Basel, Switzerland; and Freiburg. In 1997 he completed his habilitation in biology at the University of Freiburg. In 2012, the European Research Council (ERC) awarded Schüle a 2.5 million-euro Advanced Grant, one of the European Union’s most prestigious research awards. Further Reading Duteil, D. / Metzger, E. / Willmann, D. / Karagianni, P. / Friedrichs, N. /  Greschik, H. / Günther, T. / Buettner, R. / Talianidis, I. / Metzger, D. /  Schüle, R. (2014): LSD1 promotes oxidative metabolism of white adipose tissue. In: Nature Communications 5:4093. doi: 10.1038 / ncomms5093. Zhu, D. / Hölz, S. / Metzger, E. / Pavlovic, M. / Jandausch, A. / Jilg, C. /  Galgoczy, P. / Herz, C. / Moser, M. / Metzger, D. / Günther, T. / Arnold, S. J. /  Schüle, R. (2014): Lysine-specific demethylase 1 regulates differentiation onset and migration of trophoblast stem cells. In: Nature Communications 5: 3174. doi: 10.1038 / ncomms4174. Metzger, E. / Wissmann, M. / Yin, N. / Müller, J. M. / Schneider, R. / Peters, H. F. M. / Günther, T. / Buettner, R. / Schüle, R. (2005): LSD1 demethylates repressive histone marks to promote androgen-receptor-dependent tran- scription. In: Nature 437, pp. 436–439. “LSD1 regulates many genetic programs for metabolic processes, such as those for fat burning and blood sugar balance.” In addition to its role in the development of tumors, LSD1 also plays an important part in oth- er processes in the bodies of mammals. One example is early embryonic development. Schüle and his team succeeded in switching off LSD1 entirely in so-called knockout mice. However, the genetically modified embryos were not strong enough to survive and died before they could implant themselves in the placenta. The Freiburg scientists studied why this was so. They determined that LSD1 is essential for the stem cells later responsible for the development of a part of the placenta. The enzyme gives them in- formation on where they should be at a certain point in embryonic development and where they should migrate to. Another important function of LSD1 is its role in the formation and function of white fat, one of the two main types of fat tissue in mammals. “LSD1 regulates many genetic programs for metabolic processes, such as those for fat burning and blood sugar balance. It can control the activity of fat cells, thus reducing the symptoms of diabetes mellitus type 2.” Schüle and his colleagues demonstrated that the production of fat is blocked when LSD1 is inhibited. From the Lab to the Hospital Fundamental research is an essential compo- nent of the SFB, which rests on three pillars: The researchers of the first pillar work on fundamen- tal molecular epigenetic mechanisms. The scien- tists of the second pillar develop systems for testing hypotheses, working, for instance, with cell cultures or mice that exhibit disease patterns similar to those of humans. The third pillar is concerned with transferring the findings from the first two pillars to the hospital. The researchers develop new active ingredients for drugs, meth- ods for therapy, and markers doctors can use to make a solid diagnosis. “Ultimately, we want to use the knowledge acquired in our fundamental research to help patients better,” explains Schüle. An example of this concept is a team led by Prof. Dr. Michael Lübbert from the SFB and the Freiburg University Medical Center, which is coordinating a clinical study funded from 2014 to 2016 by the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK). Doctors in five German research centers are developing LSD1 blocking techniques for the therapy of acute myeloid leu- kemia (AML). The German Research Foundation has been providing funding for the SFB for two years. The maximum period of funding is twelve years. “The wide range of expertise the participating research groups bring to the table and their technical know-how make the SFB into a unique selling point for the University of Freiburg,” says Schüle. Numerous articles in specialist journals testify to the success of the research. “In the coming years, I hope we receive the opportunity to work together in a single building or an institute of medical epigenetics.” The field of epigenetics has a bright future, of that he is certain. 11