Despite numerous scientific breakthroughs, society is still facing global health challenges. Most diseases show complex symptomatic patterns that are orchestrated by overarching signaling pathways and driven by mechanisms such as inflammation, which are extremely difficult to identify and to understand. Within ENABLE, we strive to unravel and understand selected pathogenic mechanisms and signaling pathways to identify disease-relevant critical targets for therapeutic intervention. We will focus on three closely interconnected areas that impact on a broad range of diseases:

Dysregulation of cellular homeostasis drives diseases such as cancer and immunological disorders. We aim to investigate the molecular and spatial organization of the major pathways, focusing on their crosstalk and induction of cell death and inflammation. Understanding molecular host-pathogen interactions during infection is one of the most challenging aspects of searching for new therapeutic strategies to treat infections. We will focus on understanding the invasion mechanisms of bacteria and viruses into host cells and study the pathogenic effects of microbial toxins or virulence factors. Dissection of inflammatory signaling pathways is the key to identify crucial mediators and effectors of inflammatory processes in the human body. We will investigate mechanistic details of immune activation and processes underlying the inflammatory milieu in different pathologic conditions.

ENABLE is built on the already existing strong research networks and technology platforms at Goethe University Frankfurt, the MPI of Biophysics, the Georg-Speyer-Haus, the FIAS and the Fraunhofer ITMP. To approach the highly challenging scientific questions, we will implement novel technologies and tools, especially chemical probes and biologics, which can be used to interfere with cellular functions to a hitherto unknown level of specificity and therefore dissect regulatory networks with high precision.


01 Feb 2021 - The State of Hesse funds research network on inflammation and infection

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Maike Windbergs and Ivan Đikić

As announced today, Frankfurt scientists were successful in securing funding for the ENABLE cluster project which aims at identifying disease-relevant key targets and enabling innovative therapeutic strategies. For the next four years, the project will be supported with 8 M€ by the State of Hesse as part of the cluster initiative to prepare for the next round of the federal Excellence Strategy. The ENABLE research program is centered around inflammation, infection and cellular homeostasis, which are all impacting on a broad range of diseases, many of them with high unmet medical need. It relies on innovative technologies and close team work between basic and translational research. 

“This generous financial support will enable us to utilize modern tools, such as chemical probes and biologics, for a new wave of translational drug discovery”, said Ivan Đikić from the Institute of Biochemistry II on Niederrad Campus, who shares the spokesperson responsibility with Maike Windbergs from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Technology at the Riedberg Campus. Windbergs added: “These tools enable us to interfere with cellular functions at a hitherto unknown level of specificity and will help us to gain a more precise insight into inflammation processes which determine the outcome of many diseases.”

The success of this integrated translational research is based on the participation of scientists from five faculties at Goethe University and partners such as the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, the Fraunhofer Institute for Translational Medicine and Pharmacology, the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS) and the Georg Speyer Haus (GSH). The future plan for ENABLE is to compete for a Cluster of Excellence within the next round of the federal Excellence Strategy.