New Nature Communications Paper

Nature Communications, Immunology & Imaging Program, Würzburg UniversityToday Nature Communications published a new imaging paper on the physiologic regulation of megakaryocytes within the bone marrow microenvironment. 

Hematopoietic stem cells do not only give rise to our body’s immune system but also to megakaryocytes. These giant cells reside in the bone marrow and produce blood platelets required for hemostasis and thrombosis.

In a collaboration project with research groups of the Rudolf Virchow Center and University of Würzburg and Charité Berlin we unravel the spatial organization of megakaryocytes to efficiently sustain the production of blood platelets. Combining different experimental strategies, including light sheet fluorescence microscopy (LSFM), dynamic 2-photon microscopy (2PM) and computer modeling helped to systematically investigate megakaryocyte migration and function within their natural environment.

Our long-standing collaboration partners, Dr. David Stegner and Prof. Katrin Heinze, led this strongly interdisciplinary research project. The new data support a model of spatial megakaryocyte organization to warrant effective platelet production. These novel findings challenge the current thrombopoiesis model of megakaryocyte migration and, instead, support a modified model: Sinusoidal precursors replenish megakaryocytes at sinusoids rather than cells from a distant periostic niche. These findings imply that megakaryocytes, which apparently do not require to migrate in order to reach bone marrow blood vessels, should be just increased by numbers to raise platelet counts in patients.


Stegner D, Eeuwijk JMM, Angay O, Gorelashvili M, Pinnecker J, Schmitthausen P, Semeniak D, Friedrich M, Brede C, Beilhack A, Schulze H, Nieswandt B, Heinze KG. (2017). Thrombopoiesis is spatially regulated by the bone marrow vasculature. Nature Communications 8:127.

Targeting tumors – Meeting in Würzburg

FOR 2314 Targeting therapeutic windows for improved cancer therapyFor two days the DFG research consortium FOR 2314 “Targeting therapeutic windows in essential cellular processes for tumor therapy” met in Würzburg to discuss recent progress in this research endeavor and to expand the collaborative efforts to tackle cancer in new ways.

In 2015 scientists from the Universities of Tübingen and Würzburg joined forces to investigate new strategies for cancer therapy.  The aim of the group is to identify and test new molecular targets for the therapy of solid tumors. Tim Steinfatt presented the Beilhack lab’s recent progress in optical imaging of cancer progression and therapy to address essential processes in pancreatic cancer.

FOR2314 Meeting Würzburg July 2017.3

Immunology Retreat at Kloster Schöntal

Immunology Training Network Erlangen, Tübingen and Würzburg

The Annual Meeting of the immunology graduate programs from three universities convened for the 12th time
Schönthal Graduate Colleges Retreat 2017 - Good-bye present to Prof. Hünig

Laudatio for Prof. Thomas Hünig (right), founding father of the graduate college Immunomodulation, by Prof. Hans-Martin-Jäck from Erlangen University

Once a year the PhD students of the graduate program Immunomodulation at Würzburg University are responsible for the independent organization of a Mini-Symposium together with fellow students from Erlangen and Tübingen Universities. This year’s meeting from May 29-31, 2017 took place in the pristine place Kloster Schöntal, one hour South of Würzburg. The Beilhack lab contributed to the scientific program three oral presentations and two scientific posters. Julia Hartweg, Katja Ottmüller and Tim Steinfatt were selected for talks to present and discuss their research progress. Musga Qureischi and Haroon Shaikh presented their research projects at the poster sessions. As a highlight of the meeting, Prof. Hans-Martin Jäck and Prof. Hans-Georg Rammensee honored the manifold scientific achievements of Prof. Thomas Hünig. On top of his stellar scientific career, Prof. Hünig also founded the graduate program Immunomodulation at Würzburg University.

Over the years the annual meeting of the immunology graduate programs has proven highly attractive for scholars, supervisors and guests alike because it can be organized as an exciting, joint undertaking with other graduate colleges working on associated topics. For more than a decade the three-day annual meeting has been organized together with the Graduate Colleges Immunomodulation of Würzburg University, Immunotherapy of Tübigen University and Adaptive Immunity of Erlangen University. The scientific program comprises short presentations of the own work of the scholars in form of oral presentations and a multi-poster session. The preferred venues were solitary conference centres (such as Kloster Banz, Kloster Schöntal or Kloster Neresheim) in beautiful surroundings to encourage the communication between supervisors, guests and the students of the different graduate colleges. Also at this year’s meeting the atmosphere was extremely beneficial for the scholars and the lecturers and enabled close interactions between all participants.

Extension of FungiNet Research Consortium

FungiNet Research Network - Pathogenic fungi and their human host: Networks of Interaction - FungiNet.Extension of the DFG CRC/Transregio 124 FungiNet

Continuation of a successful research network until 2021

The Collaborative Research Consortium on pathogenic fungi of the Universities of Jena and Würzburg will continue its joint research endeavor. The German Research Council (DFG) positively re-evaluated the Collaborative Research Centre/Transregio 124 FungiNet. The DFG financially supports its research on fungal infections, which threaten older or immunocompromised patients, e.g. with leukemia or following stem cell or organ transplantation. These infections are hard to manage because of late diagnosis, only limited understanding on the infection mechanisms as well as only few available, partially ineffective, therapeutic measures and increasing drug resistance. Prof. Axel Brakhage, head of this interdisciplinary research consortium, points out that “annually, two million people worldwide contract life-threatening fungal infections. An increasing problem, which causes approximately as many deaths every year as malaria or tuberculosis.”

The Beilhack lab strongly benefits from the interactions within the Collaborative Research Centre/Transregio (CRC/TR) 124 “Pathogenic fungi and their human host: Networks of Interaction” – short “FungiNet” to achieve the ambitious goals to better understand life-threatening fungal infections and to develop new, urgently needed antiinfective therapies.

FungiNet Research Consortium 2017

The FungiNet Research Consortium meeting before the evaluation in February 2017 at the Institute for Molecular Infection Biology (IMIB) on the Medical Campus of Würzburg University

More information about the FungiNet Transregio (CRC/TR) 124 research consortium.

License to subdue – Publication in Blood Advances

License to subdue

It has long been a puzzle how monocytes can execute entirely opposing immunological programs by either fostering or suppressing inflammation. This puzzle has now been solved in a collaboration project with the group of Prof. Manfred Lutz at the Institute of Immunobiology at Würzburg University. 
Two-step conversion of monocytes into immunosuppressive monocytes

Two-step conversion of monocytes into immunosuppressive monocytes

A new publication reveals that the fate and effector functions of differentiating monocytes all depend on the right timing: Early in an immune response, when monocytes encounter activated T cells producing the important cytokines GM-CSF and IFN-γ at inflammatory sites, they differentiate into activated macrophages or dendritic cells and enhance the immune response. However, later in an immune response, monocytes within the bone marrow or spleen are exposed to systemically elevated GM-CSF cytokine levels before they encounter IFN-γ-producing T cells. This means that a two-step licensing process takes place that monocytes can turn into immunosuppressive cells, which are also termed myeloid-derived suppressor cells.

Read full post.


Translational Immunology – From Target to Therapy IV

Else-Kröner-Symposium 2017

Else-Kröner-Symposium 2017

Translational Immunology – International experts in immunology meet in Würzburg, where Rudolf Virchow laid the foundation for modern pathology

Harnessing the immune system to treat cancer patients has been a big leap forward in cancer therapy of the past years. Clinical approval of new immunotherapies preventing immune escape in cancer patients build on scientific advances of the past decades. This novel approach is encouraging, but more patients should benefit by advancing and refining immunotherapies and the accompanying diagnostics. These exciting developments and their current limitations but also advances in autoimmune, inflammatory and infectious diseases were the focus of this year’s 4th Else-Kröner-Symposium “Translational Immunology – From Target to Therapy IV”. Pioneers in the field from all over the world convened for two days in Würzburg. Expert scientists presented and discussed newest preclinical and basic research data and recent results from clinical trials. Particularly, immunologists at the meeting focussed on how to overcome remaining challenges and to move the field forward. Again, we organized this year’s international Else-Kröner-Symposium at Würzburg’s Gartenpavillon at the Juliusspital. In this historic venue Rudolf Virchow laid important foundations for modern pathology. The meeting from May 4-5, 2017 provided an excellent opportunity for young scientists to present and discuss their own research with international experts in the fields of cancer immunotherapy, inflammation, autoimmune and infectious diseases.

The Translational Immunology – From Target to Therapy IV conference was generously supported by the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung.

Ettal – Spring School on Immunology

Advanced training course in immunology

DGfI Logo, Deutsche Gesellschaft für ImmunologieEvery year the German Society of Immunology (DGfI) organizes a spring school. This advanced training course in diverse immunological topics was offered for young researchers and physicians from March 5th-10th, 2017 in Ettal, Bavaria. This year’s Spring School on Immunology was organized by Friederike Berberich-Siebelt from Würzburg University together with Christine Falk (Hannover), Robert Jack (Greifswald), Michael Lohoff (Marburg), Fritz Melchers (Berlin), Andreas Radbruch (Berlin) and Hendrik Schulze-Koops (München). Julia Hartweg and Musga Qureischi participated from the Beilhack lab in this year’s spring school. Beyond a great learning experience they could also present and discuss their own research work with young scientists and experts in the field.

Raja Atreya Friederike Berberich-Siebelt Michael Carroll Hyun Dong Chang Christine Falk Martin-Leo Hansmann Martin Herrmann Ivaylo Ivanov Bob Jack Carl June Claudia Kemper Ludger Klein Andrey Kruglov Michael Lohoff Annette Oxenius Oliver Pabst (inv.) Julia Polansky Andreas Radbruch Klaus Rajewsky Diether Recktenwald Hans-Reimer Rodewald Christiane Rüdl Hendrik Schulze-Koops Katja Simon Laura Soto-Vazquez Tim Sparwasser Reinhard Voll

Lecture at Gordon Research Conference

Lecture at Gordon Research Conference

The scientific work of Natarajaswamy “Natraj” Kalleda has been honored with a lecture at the distinguished Gordon Research Conference on Fungal Immunology in Galveston, Texas.

Gordon Conference for Fungal Immunology 2017In his lecture Natraj Kalleda presented his recent work on how preparative regimens for adoptive immune cell therapy, even if well-intended, could impair efficient immune control of life-threatening fungal infections. His talk “Corticosteroids impair granulocyte transfusion therapy by targeting NET formation and neutrophil antifungal functions via ROS/Dectin1 pathways” caused wide attention, sparked discussion and may influence how we treat fungal infections in immunocompromised patients in the future.

Three Achievement Awards at ASH 2016

ASH Meeting 2016, Antonio Solimando, Musga Qureischi, 2016 ASH Abstract Achievement Award, Beilhack Lab, Würzburg University HospitalMore than 27.000 physicians, scientists and clinician-scientists from all over the world participated in this year’s Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) from December 3-6, 2016 in San Diego. This year, our group contributed to this conference with three presentations. Considering the outreach and the limited slots to present data, we are very proud that all three participating scientists from the Beilhack lab were also selected for the prestigious ASH Abstract Achievement Awards: Musga Qureischi, who joined the group for her PhD project in 2016; Dr. Antonio Solimando, a physician-scientist and visiting scholar from the University of Bari, Italy; and Natraj Kalleda, who recently completed his PhD thesis.

Three award selected presentations on diverse topics

In his lecture on Sunday morning Dr. Antonio Solimando reported new results on the interaction of multiple myeloma cells with the bone marrow microenvironment. Also on Sunday, Natraj Kalleda presented novel insights into adoptive cellular therapy for invasive aspergillus infections. In the session for allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation on Monday, Musga Qureischi gave a talk on our collaborative research project with PD Dr. Friederike Berberich-Siebelt on molecular signaling in alloreactive T cells in GVHD. The Annual ASH Conference is considered as the most important venue in the broad field of hematology including research for hematologic malignancies, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and immunotherapy.

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