1. Strategic Spearheads of Research: Multidisciplinary Research Platforms (MRP)
Infinity lab is about more than providing service to partners. Because of the increasing international competition and globalization of the Higher Education sector, universities will be forced not only to respond to this changing environment, but also to take advantage of it in order to continue to excel as a top-level institution in the fields of research, training and innovation. An important development in the field of research policy is the strive for excellence by focusing on niche areas and prioritizing certain fields.
Infinity is directly involved in two MRP projects:
Visit the Neuroscience website
The MRP Neuroscience of Ghent University is a multidisciplinary research partnership involving approximately a hundred researchers from the Faculties of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Medical and Health Sciences, Engineering and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Ghent University.
The partnership was launched in 2010. The goal of this consortium is to increase the level of understanding of the neural basis of behavioural control.
2 Inflammation and Immunity: Group-ID
Group-ID stands for Ghent Researchers On Unfolded Proteins in Inflammatory Disease. Inflammation is the first response of the immune system to infection or tissue injury, leading to protection of the human body against these insults. Chronic inflammation can however be a maladaptive response and is at the origin of chronic lung diseases like asthma and COPD; auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); inflammatory skin diseases (ISD) like psoriasis; and metabolic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. These diseases are amongst the most common of Western society and are clearly on the rise. An inflammatory response begins when cells of the immune system and/or barrier cells that line the outside world sense pathogens, irritants or cellular damage, triggering the release of inflammatory substances. However, crucial questions about how an inflammatory response originates and is perpetuated once initiated have yet remained unanswered. Studies show that cells of mice and patients exposed to chronic triggers of inflammatory disease often accumulate unfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), leading to an adaptive unfolded protein response (UPR) or to signs of ER stress. In this project, the hypothesis is that the presence of unfolded proteins in the ER of immune cells and/or barrier cells is a crucial endogenous danger signal for the initiation and maintenance of inflammation.
Relatively little has been performed on the role of ER stress in inflammation, and the expertise and technological platforms that are currently in place at UGent will allow this research group to be internationally competitive soon. Its strength comes from collaboration and from individual expertise in molecular cell biology, immunology, in vivo modeling, imaging and access to clinical material. In 5 years time, Group-ID aims to be an international center of excellence in inflammation research, continuously attracting the best students and postdocs to our center, have sufficient independent funding from the government and industry and become a core center of translational research in medicine.