CCRC Graduate Program – Research Focus

    Cardiovascular disease remains the principal cause of death in western industrialized countries and is a paramount contributor to morbidity in an ageing population. The last two decades revolutionized our understanding of the underlying pathophysiology in demonstrating that inflammatory pathways critically contribute to initiation and propagation of these diseases. However, clinically applicable treatment approaches directed against inflammatory mediators are still missing.

    The CCRC Graduate Program not only aims to better elucidate redundant mechanisms linking inflammation to end organ dysfunction, it will focus on defining novel treatment strategies which will be tested in a translational manner. This collaborative research effort, which is hosted under the roof of the Cologne Cardiovascular Research Center (CCRC), brings together groups with a long-standing history in cardiovascular research and/or inflammation. The program aims to a) increase interactions between research groups with a strong interest in cardiovascular disease at the University of Cologne, b) to nurture education of junior scientists and talented students, and c) accelerate translational cardiovascular research to catalyze new avenues of treatment.

    CCRC and Framework of Graduate Programs at the University of Cologne (UoC)

    The CCRC Graduate Program is part of the Life Science PhD programs and Graduate Schools of the University of Cologne. It is thus incorporated in the framework of research and training opportunities available at the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, which offer a structural and close interaction between all graduate programs and research facilities.

    The collaborative approach to solving health problems by bridging together research-oriented physicians and basic researchers is a hallmark of several umbrella structures including the Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne (CMMC), the Interdisciplinary Program Molecular Medicine (IPMM), and the Interdisciplinary Program Health Sciences (IPHS).

    The CCRC Graduate Program is aimed at early stage research-oriented physicians (after their 2nd state examination or equivalent) and postgraduate natural scientists (holding a Master of Science) and is designed to provide doctoral students with a comprehensive range of relevant and timely training to better promote his/her research career in the field of molecular cardiovascular research.


    • Projects: 8 related projects in the field of Cardiovascular Medicine with shared focus on inflammatory pathways in vascular disease.
    • Program: 3-year (+) program for young scientists (postgraduate natural scientists, medical students).
    • Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Stephan Rosenkranz, Klinik III für Innere Medizin
    • Administration: Dr. Deborah Grosskopf-Kroiher, Interdisciplinary Program Molecular Medicine (IPMM).
    • Frame: The CCRC graduate program will be within the framework of research and training opportunities available at the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the University of Cologne


    Specific characteristics of the program

    • Doctoral candidates can join the program after an evaluation through a program committee
    • Each doctoral candidate will be advised and instructed by the respective PI and by two independent Tutors
    • In addition to their research work, doctoral candidates are required to participate in individually tailored teaching courses


    Principal Investigators and designated scientific projects:

    • Stephan Baldus / Anna Klinke: Myeloperoxidase-mediated modulation of glycocalyx integrity and its impact on vascular dysfunction
    • Thomas Benzing: Contribution of proinflammatory signaling in podocytes to progressive damage of the glomerular microcirculation
    • Jens C. Brüning: Role of Interleukin (6)-Signalling in Obesity-Associated Atherosclerosis
    • Manolis Pasparakis: Role of macrophage death in atherosclerosis
    • Stephan Rosenkranz / Henrik ten Freyhaus: Role of the 6-transmembrane protein Stamp2 in Pulmonary Hypertension
    • Björn Schumacher: Innate immune responses to DNA damage in vascular ageing and disease
    • Aleksandra Trifunovic / Volker Rudolph: The role of mitochondrial respiratory chain and oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) in vascular System
    • Thorsten Wahlers / Yeong Hoon Choi: Role of TNF-alpha in the dysregulation of the pro-angiogenic pathway in pressure-overload left-ventricular hypertrophy






    Partners and core facilities:




    CCRC Coordinator Office:

    Dr. Debora Grosskopf-Kroiher
    CCRC Graduate Program
    CMMC Research Building
    Robert-Koch-Str. 21
    D-50931 Cologne, Germany



    Scientific coordinator:

    Prof. Stephan Rosenkranz
    Department III of Internal Medicine,
    Cologne University Heart Center
    Kerpener Str. 62
    50937 Köln, Germany