Main Content

Elucidation of multifactorial disease

The aim of our research is to identify the genetic causes of disease, and thus elucidate the underlying biological processes. The results of our investigations form the basis for the development of new diagnostic methods. In addition, we expect that they will facilitate both the assessment of disease prognosis, and the development of causally effective and individually tailored therapies.

The main focus of our research is multifactorial disease. Multifactorial disorders are characterized by the simultaneous presence of several predisposing genetic variants, which contribute to the disease: 1) in aggregates that differ between individuals; and 2) via interaction with environmental factors. Due to their etiological complexity, the molecular decoding of a multifactorial disease is much more difficult than is the case for rare monogenic diseases, which are caused by changes in (only) one gene. However, the identification of the genetic causes of multifactorial disease is all the more important, since all common diseases are multifactorial.

In addition to investigations to elucidate the molecular-genetic causes of specific diseases, we also conduct research to identify genetic variants with an influence on gene regulation. These investigations are termed Expression Quantitative Trait Locus (eQTL) analyses. These analyses also contribute to the elucidation of multifactorial disease, since they often play a causal role. In an extension of this method, eQTL analyses are also performed after the exogenous stimulation of cells or tissues. Genetic regulatory variants often only become active when intracellular processes have been induced by the influence of environmental factors. The use of such gene-environment studies is both innovative and informative, since many diseases are caused by interactions between the environment and genetic factors. This applies in particular to diseases that are of oncological, immunological, and / or inflammatory origin, and which are the foci of our disease-specific investigations.

The following web pages provide detailed information on our main research foci.