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Gender in Cardiovascular Research

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Gender in Cardiovascular Research

Principle Investigators: Vera Regitz-Zagrosek (Research Focus-, GK-, RG-       Coordinator), Duska Dragun (GK-, RG-Member), Ulrich Kintscher (GK-, RG-member), Andreas Patzak, Pontus Persson (GK) Thomas Unger/ Ulrike Steckelings/ Heiko Funke-Kaiser (GK-members)

Partners: national: Gender in Medicine (GIM) Charité, Members of the Graduate Course GK 754 and of the Research Group FOR 1054
international: European curriculum gender medicine (EUGIM) members (Karin Schenck-Gustafsson, Center on Gender in Medicine at the Karolinska Institute Stockholm, Ineke Klinge, University of Maastricht, Netherlands; Maria Koop, Semmelweiss University Budapest, Hungary; Margarete Hochleitner, Womans Health Center of Insbruck Medical University, Austria; Flavia Franconi, Universita di Sassari, Italy, Toine Lagro Janssen, University of Njimegen, Netherlands);  Eugeneheart Gender Task members (Fred Jaisser, Paris, H Jarry, Goettingen, Leon de Windt, Maastricht, Guido Tarone, Turin, Karin Sipido, Leuven), International Society of Gender in Medicine Board members

Gender differences in widespread diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke, immunological disease etc. are well known, but the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms are still poorly understood. The hypothesis of steroid hormones as molecular regulators of gender specific pathological phenotypes is tempting, but in many cases still to be proven. Research groups at the CCR, which are interested in this topic, work together with groups from Charité and MDC in the Research Focus "Gender in Cardiovascular Disease". The common aim of the group is to investigate sex and gender differences in cardiovascular and cardiometabolic and -renal diseases and to define the role of sex hormones. Eleven groups including 4 from CCR, one from DHZB (Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin), other from Charité and MDC are cooperating since 2001 with similar goals in the Research Training Program GK 754: "Sex and gender specific mechanisms in myocardial hypertrophy". This GK was particularly successful. It has been funded from 2001 – 2011 and about 55 MD, veterinarian and PhD students will obtain their degrees in this graduate course, most of them already finished with summa and magna cum laude.  Sex differences in myocardial hypertrophy  A Research Group (DFG, FOR 1054) - Forschergruppe – Sex differences in myocardial hypertrophy is funded from September 2008- 2011 with the contribution of the CCR-groups of Dragun, Kintscher and Regitz-Zagrosek (coordinator). Animal models are an appropriate tool for analyzing molecular and cellular mechanisms of cardiovascular and cardiorenal diseases and show often sex specific differences. Three such models with known gender differences are established at the CCR: a mouse model for pressure induced hypertrophy (transverse aortic banding), a mouse model for salt induced hypertrophy (DOCA salt) and a model for physiological hypertrophy after voluntary exercise.. Forced exercise has been established as another physiological hypertrophy model. In these models, sex differences and estrogen/androgen mediated signal transduction are investigated. Moreover, in hypothesis-driven approaches, the interaction of sex differences and sex hormones on cardiomyocyte signalling will be analyzed and, in a more systemic approach, influence of sex hormones on gene expression and protein pattern will be examined.  
Karima Schwab and Nicolas Vignon-Zellweger from the Group of F. Theuring work on effects of estrogens and phytoestrogenes on protein expression pattern in systemic approaches.
Furthermore gender aspects in cardiovascular diseases are investigated in international cooperations with the INSERM Institute Toulouse, France and the John Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore US.
At the European level gender aspects are analyzed in Task 4 of the EUGENE project (consortium of 21 partners from research institutes and SMEs from 10 different countries).
An additional goal is the implementation of Gender aspects in the medical education all over Europe with the Erasmus Project EUGIM, developing a Bologna compatible module "Gender Medicine" with 7 European partner universities.
At the national level Gender aspects will be implemented systematically in the novel medical education at the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin ("Modellstudiengang Medizin"), which will start in October 2010.