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The research program is divided into two main research areas. Area A investigates the resident and Area B non-resident molecular and cellular mechanisms of aortic disease. A particular focus has been set on aortic valve stenosis, aortic aneurysm, and aortic dissection.


The projects were selected for this consortium to collaboratively address the following fundamental questions:

  • Which danger signals, mediators, and cytokines govern the pathological interaction in-between circulating cells and between non-resident and resident cells?
  • What are the key cellular players in the innate and adaptive immune processes that are involved in aortic disease?
  • How do red blood cells, platelets, and perivascular adipocytes contribute to aortic disease?
  • What is the role of endothelial cell specificity, redox homeostasis, mechanotransduction, and extracellular vesicle release for the initiation and progression of aortic disease?
  • Which specific signaling pathways in interstitial smooth muscle cells drive aortic disease?
  • How do resident cell death pathways influence aortic wall inflammation and extracellular matrix composition?
  • What are the detailed mechanisms and consequences of modification of the extracellular matrix in the aorta?
  • Which are the underlying genes involved in human aortic disease and how can we translate animal models to the human diseases?


A close and complex interaction between resident (blue) and non-resident (pink) mechanisms drives the development of aortic disease. The projects of the TRR259 will utilize their individual research expertise to focus on each of these aspects. 

Research Area A  - Non-resident mechanisms of aortic and aortic valve disease

project A01Dr. Christina Weisheit / Prof. Dr. Christian Kurts

project A02 - Prof. Dr. Sebastian Zimmer / Prof. Dr. Eicke Latz

project A03 - Prof. Dr. Gunther Hartmann

project A04 - Prof. Dr. Stephan Baldus / Dr. Holger Winkels

project A05 - Prof. Dr. Esther Lutgens / Prof. Dr. Norbert Gerdes

project A07 - Prof. Dr. Margitta Elvers / Prof. Dr. Hubert Schelzig

project A08 - Prof. Dr. Alexander Pfeifer


Research Area B - Resident mechanisms of aortic and aortic valve disease

project B01 - Jun.-Prof. Dr. Daniela Wenzel / Prof. Dr. Bernd Fleischmann

project B03PD Dr. Florian Bönner / Prof. Dr. Ulrich Flögel

project B04Prof. Alexander Pfeifer / PD Dr. Felix Jansen 

project B05Prof. Dr. Manolis Pasparakis / PD Dr. Matti Adam

project B06 - Prof. Dr. Stephan Rosenkranz

project B07 - Prof. Dr. M. Markus Nöthen / Dr. Baravan Al-Kassou / Prof. Dr. Johannes Schumacher

project B08Prof. Dr. Maria Grandoch / Prof. Dr Jens W. Fischer

project B09Prof. Dr. Gerhard Sengle



project S01 - Dr. Christine Quast / PD Dr. Gerhard Sengle / Prof. Dr. Sebastian Zimmer

interated Research Group 

iRTG - Dr. Meghan Lucas / PD Dr. Felix Jansen  / PD Dr. Gerhard Sengle / Dr. Markus Wagenhäuser




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