Personalized medicine for cystic fibrosis will be a primary focus
Joint press release from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the Berlin Institute of Health, and Einstein Foundation Berlin
Prof. Dr. Marcus Mall has been appointed Professor for Pediatric Pulmonology and Immunology at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Prof. Mall’s co-appointments as Einstein Professor and BIH Professor were made possible with the support of Einstein Foundation Berlin and collaboration with the Berlin Institute of Health – highlighting the particular significance of this appointment for translational lung research in Berlin. Prof. Mall becomes Director of the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pulmonology, Immunology and Intensive Care Medicine, as well as the Pediatric Emergency Department at Charité.
“Even today, the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pulmonology, Immunology and Intensive Care Medicine plays an important role in the provision of health care for children and adolescents with severe chronic lung diseases in Germany. In Prof. Marcus Mall, we have found an ideal Director to lead and further develop pediatric respiratory medicine at Charité both in patient care and research to the highest international level,” says Prof. Dr. Ulrich Frei, Medical Director at Charité. “With his research program in cystic fibrosis and other chronic airway diseases entailing new disease models, patient cohorts, and innovative clinical trials, Prof. Marcus Mall will significantly strengthen our portfolio in translational lung research,” adds Prof. Dr. Axel Radlach Pries, Dean of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.
Prof. Mall is one of the world’s most renowned experts in pediatric pulmonology. The primary focus of his research is the pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis and the development of novel therapies for this severe genetic condition that causes chronic progressive lung disease. “I am pleased to have been appointed to one of the most distinguished positions in Germany, with the opportunity to use my experience in translational lung research in such an outstanding environment. This will allow for the rapid transfer of research findings from the laboratory to the bedside to improve the diagnosis and treatment of children and adolescents suffering from cystic fibrosis and other serious lung diseases,” says Prof. Mall.
The Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pulmonology, Immunology and Intensive Care Medicine runs a large Cystic Fibrosis Center for patients of all ages. The Center plays a central role in the provision of health care to patients from the Berlin metropolitan area and beyond, and currently treats over 300 children and adults with cystic fibrosis. Only recently, the first causal treatments for a subgroup of patients with cystic fibrosis have been developed – a milestone on the path to personalized medicine. Prof. Mall is planning to develop Charité’s Cystic Fibrosis Center into an internationally renowned center for personalized medicine and, in the medium term, transfer the success achieved in the field of cystic fibrosis to other chronic lung diseases. As patients with advanced lung disease often require lung transplants, Prof. Mall is also hoping to expand the Lung Transplant Program.
Establishment of a Center for Rare Lung Diseases
Prof. Mall is also planning to further develop and strengthen the Department’s expertise with regard to other rare lung diseases affecting children and adolescents. Plans for a new Center for Rare Lung Diseases are based on recent genetic and epidemiological findings suggesting that, collectively, rare and often inherited lung diseases are significantly more common than previously thought. “There is a complete lack of structured treatment programs and evidence-based therapy for many of these rare lung diseases. We want to close this gap,” says Prof. Mall.
Plans for future research activities
Innovative treatment strategies developed in the research laboratory will be tested in early phase clinical trials to accelerate the development of novel therapies and advance individualized therapy for children and adolescents with chronic lung diseases. Prof. Mall also aims to develop new non-invasive procedures for the diagnosis of lung diseases. “There is a notable lack of diagnostic tools suitable for use in young children, in whom standard lung function tests cannot be carried out, and other standard diagnostic tests such as lung imaging are associated with exposure to radiation,” explains Prof. Mall.
Since completing his medical degree in 1997, Prof. Marcus Mall has had ample opportunity to build the competencies and international networks required for these numerous endeavors. After spending time at the University of North Carolina’s Cystic Fibrosis/Pulmonary Research and Treatment Center, where he rose to the position of Assistant Professor, he returned to Germany in 2005, becoming Head of an EU-funded Junior Research Group at the Department of Pediatrics at Heidelberg University Hospital. In 2009, Prof. Marcus Mall became Head of the Division of Pediatric Pulmonology and Allergy. In 2011, he was appointed Medical Director of Heidelberg University Hospital’s Department of Translational Pulmonology and became a Member of the Board of Directors of the German Center for Lung Research. Prof. Marcus Mall has received numerous research awards, including a Heisenberg Professorship for Translational Pediatric Pulmonology awarded by the German Research Foundation.
Prof. Mall is also hoping to set new teaching priorities at Charité, and there are plans for an increased number of interdisciplinary seminars in translational and systems medicine in pulmonary diseases. The highest performing students are to be given the opportunity to pursue a structured experimental doctoral degree within one of the Department’s working groups.
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