Kantonsspital St.Gallen

Stroma Cell- Immune Cell Interactions in Health and Disease

Burkhard Ludewig, Urs Mörbe, Hung Wei Cheng, Mario Novkovic, Paul Kaye, Jan De Boer, Tom Cupedo, Christoph Giese, Jones Hazel, Christopher George Mueller, Andrzej Dzionek, Michael Sixt, Karin Tarte & Henrique Veiga Fernandes


STROMA is an Initial Training Network promoting the study of stromal cell – immune system interactions during stroma development and function in health and disease. In STROMA we have bought together world leading experts from academia and industry in Europe to address the key scientific questions in this emerging field. STROMA will promote the training of three Experienced Researchers (ER) and thirteen Early Stage Researchers (ESR) combining research and training in state-of-the-art multidisciplinary technologies. Through “hands on” and a “Virtual Learning Environment” STROMA will train the ESRs in the latest imaging, animal models, genomics, infectious biology and stromal biology technologies in collaboration with our industrial partners. STROMA will provide training in communications skills, ethics, plagiarism, grant writing, intellectual property rights, industrial skills training, project management, entrepreneurship, research policy, commercial exploitation of results and public engagement and develop a Personal Training Plan for each ESR and ER. Through network meetings and localized training the ESRs will receive additional training in complementary skills. STROMA is a highly interconnected network with each ER/ESR project involving multiple collaborations and secondments with other network participants including an extensive placement with our industrial partners. The importance of stromal cells and the molecular mechanism of stromal cell function in the regulation of immune responses have only recently been appreciated and are an exciting new area in immunology. The purpose of STROMA is to ensure that Europe retains global leadership in this emerging field and translates basic research on stroma-immune cell interactions to novel products and technologies for European industry.

The development and function of the immune system is dependent on
interactions between haematopoietic cells and non-hematopoietic stromal cells. Stromal cells help create the microenvironment in which the immune system operates, providing an architectural landscape for hematopoietic cell-cell interactions and molecular cues governing haematopoietic cell positioning, growth and survival. Not surprisingly, therefore, aberrant stromal cell function has recently been shown to play a key role in the development of diseases associated with immune
dysfunction. For example, remodelling of lymphoid tissue stroma and the development of ectopic tertiary lymphoid tissues are characteristic of many infectious diseases and stromal cells now have a recognised role in the development of lymphoma. An increased understanding of the molecular basis of stromal cell differentiation and function in these varied contexts will provide new tools to promote research on stromal cell biology, and new targets for therapeutic intervention against diseases of major public health importance. The importance of stromal cells and the molecular mechanism(s) of stromal cell function in the regulation of immune responses have only recently been appreciated and thus represent an exciting new area in immunology.
project partner Prof. Paul Kaye, University of York
Dr. Jan de Boer, University Twente
Dr. Tom Cupedo, Erasmus University Medisch Centrum Rotterdam
Dr. Christoph Giese, Probiogen AG
Dr. Hazel Jones, Medimmune Limited
Dr. Christopher George Mueller, Centre National De La Recherche Scientifique
Dr. Andrzej Dzionek, Miltenyi Biotec GmbH
Prof. Michael Sixt, Institute of Science and Technology Austria
Prof. Karin Tarte, University of Rennes I
Dr. Henrique Veiga Fernandes, Insitute of Molecular Medicine Portugal
type of project fundamental research
status completed
start of project 2012
end of project 2015
project manager Prof. Burkhard Ludewig