Research

On this page you find more information on LIGA’s ongoing research projects.

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MiRNetAD: The role of microRNAs in Alzheimer’s disease

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding RNAs that down-regulate RNA expression by specific, complementary binding. Since each miRNA typically targets several different RNAs, regulatory networks emerge. In MiRNetAD we will elucidate these networks by combining cutting-edge high-throughput genomics technologies with state-of-the-art in vivo functional modeling to decipher the connection between microRNA-RNA regulatory networks and dysfunction of the entorhinal cortex (EC)-hippocampal (HPC) neural circuit in AD.  MiRNetAD  represents one of 131 recently funded Joint Sino-German Research projects for which LIGA will collaborate with the the group of Professor Ling-Qiang Zhu at Huazhong University in Wuhan, China. The projects connects well with LIGA’s other ongoing efforts to elucidate the role of miRNAs in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (supported in part by the Peter und Traudl Engelhorn Foundation as 2-year stipend to LIGA researcher Dr. Inken Wohlers who is also in charge of leading MiRNetAD). Funding: DFG and NSFC (from Jan 1, 2018 – Dec 31, 2021).

 

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LifeBrain: Breaking new ground in cognitive neuroscience

The LifeBrain project aims to identify determinants of human brain development, cognitive functioning, and mental health and establish a solid knowledgebase for understanding how these three domains can be optimized throughout life. Specifically, the project intends to integrate the data from 11 longitudinal, mostly population-based cohort studies investigating cognitive and mental health from birth to old age.  We plan to link these to national registries, biobanks and data from other large studies, and also enrich them with novel data. The LIGA team will be in charge of all genetic and epigenetic experiments conducted as part of LifeBrain. To this end, we will analyse DNA extracted from blood, saliva and buccal swabs for their genetic and epigenetic profiles using high-throughput technologies.  For more information on the LifeBrain projects and our international collaborators, please visit the official LifeBrain website. Funding: European commission (from Jan 1, 2017 – Dec 31, 2021).

 

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Berlin Aging Study II (BASE-II)

BASE-II is a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional project that ascertains a large number of ageing-related variables with the aim to identify and characterize the factors associated with ‘healthy’ vs. ‘unhealthy’ ageing. BASE-II is a collaboration between University of Lübeck, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, the German Institute for Economical Research, Charite University Medicine, Humboldt University Berlin, Free University Berlin, and the University of Tübingen. In BASE-II LIGA is in charge of conducting all molecular genetic (funded by the BMBF) and epigenetic experiments (funded by the Cure Alzheimer Fund). For more information on BASE-II see this page. Funding: Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (from Dec 1, 2016 – Nov 30, 2018).

 

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DFG Research Group “ProtectMove”

Collaborative research group with the aim to investigate the nature and mechanisms of reduced penetrance in several movement disorders, predominantly Parkinson’s disease and dystonia. ProtectMove is made up of research teams from Lübeck, Kiel, Bolzano, Luxembourg and Vancouver, and is funced by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). The LIGA team will co-lead four out of the eleven ProtectMove research projects including the implementation of a genome data analysis core (GDAC) unit. For more information on ProtectMove, its projects and progress, please visit the official project website. Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – DFG (from Dec 1, 2016 – Nov 30, 2019).

 

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MDSGene database

MDSGene represents the newest addition to LIGA’s catalog of online genetic databases. MDSGene was developed by the LIGA team in collaboration with researchers in Lübeck and elsewhere. The database systematically links reported genetic mutations with movement disorder phenotypes and other demographic and clinical information and is freely available to the public at www.mdsgene.org. MDSGene is in part financed by the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS) and was officially launched at the 20th International MDS Congress in Berlin, Germany, in June 2016. To learn more about MDSGene see the editorial by Lill et al, 2016 in the journal Movement Disorders. Funding: Movement Disorder Society – MDS (Jan 1, 2015 – Dec 31 2017)

 

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Identification and characterization of complex disease genes

In addition to the above mentioned individually funded projects, LIGA is involved in a number of additional collaborative studies aimed at identifying novel genetic and epigenetic factors underlying susceptibility of complex diseases. One main focus of this work are neurodegenerative and neuroimmunological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (e.g. in the context of the “European Medical Information Framework – Alzheimer’s disease” [EMIF-AD] study, or the “Alzheimer’s Genome Project” [AGP] together with Rudy Tanzi’s group at Harvard Medical School), Parkinson’s disease (e.g. in collaboration with the “Genetic Epidemiology of Parkinson’s disease” [GEO-PD] consortium, the “Parkinson’s disease in Denmark” [PASIDA] study together with Beate Ritz’s group at UCLA, and the “EPIC4PD” study together with Lefkos Middleton at Imperial College London, UK), Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (e.g. as part of the FTLD Research Consortium), and Multiple Sclerosis (e.g. in collaboration with the “International MS Genetics Consortium” [IMSGC]). For information on our involvement in genetic studies of other traits and diseases please see also our up-to-date list of publications.