The goal of HI-TAC is to investigate mechanisms by which the cardiovascular system mediates interorgan communication addressing influences of metabolism, the nervous system and the immune system. By gaining a better understanding of how changes to blood vessels and the heart trigger pathologies will allow for detection of early warning signs and inform treatments before symptoms occur.
Blood vessels form a highly branched network that in a single person is about 150,000 kilometers long and reaches the most remote parts of the human body. Its finest branches, the capillaries, extend to within 150 micrometers from nearly every cell. Our blood vessels do more than just supply tissues with oxygen and nutrients. The endothelial cells that line vessels are able to pick up, block or amplify signals in their environment. These signals can promote a long and healthy life or pathological processes. Likewise, the heart is much more than a pump. Together, the heart and vasculature form a communication network that collects and exchanges information between different organs.
The signals transmitted through this system contribute to health and disease, but decoding them is complex, and very little research has been devoted to understanding these signals. That is about to change with the establishment of a new Helmholtz Institute for Translational AngioCardioScience (HI-TAC) in Mannheim and Heidelberg.
Helmholtz Institutes are important satellites of the Helmholtz Association’s research centers. Founded jointly with partner universities, they are focal centers for specific disciplines. The institutes are located on the campus of the respective university and focus on research fields with future innovation potential. They work closely with local and international organizations, thereby creating critical mass for translational research.
Professor Hellmut Augustin has been named as founding director
The project will benefit from partnerships with:
- at the University Medical Center Mannheim
- at Heidelberg University Hospital
After an initial set-up phase, starting in 2028 the institute expects to have an annual budget of approximately €5.5 million. These funds will be provided by the Helmholtz Association, the Max Delbrück Center, the State of Baden-Württemberg, and Heidelberg University.
The State of Baden-Württemberg will finance a new six-story building for HI-TAC on the campus of the University Medical Center Mannheim.
An integrated HI-TAC unit will also be set up in the planned Cardiometabolicum facility on Heidelberg University’s campus in Neuenheimer Feld, close to the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and a new Heart Center to be opened in 2029.
Co-working space will facilitate the exchange of scientists and communication between Heidelberg, Mannheim, and Berlin.