Dr. Florian Tran is leading the research project. His work is made possible by an Else Kröner Memorial Fellowship. In this MEDICA.de interview, the clinician scientist reveals what the award means for him and his research and explains the role transcriptomics plays in this setting.
You are the recipient of an Else Kröner Memorial Fellowship. What does this support mean to you personally?
Dr. Florian Tran: This funding means that I have two years of protected research time that allows me to dedicate my time fully to the funded research project. This support is also an important personal success. It is one of my first most notable personal grants in a competitive process from a large foundation such as the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung.
What prompted you to research inflammatory bowel diseases with a focus on ulcerative colitis as part of your research project?
Tran: I have always been interested in the function of the gastrointestinal tract beyond digestion and nutrient absorption. Chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are still on the rise worldwide and are sometimes difficult to treat. Mismanagement of these chronic conditions can dramatically restrict the quality of life and put a patient's long-term health at risk. In the working groups of Prof. Schreiber and Prof. Rosenstiel, we are researching the response to IBD treatment. We examine why some patients benefit from (biologic) therapies and why others do not.
In the funded project, we are initially focusing on one disease, namely ulcerative colitis. With ulcerative colitis, the diagnostic advantage is that it’s primarily the distal sections that are affected and that the samples are collected from similar intestinal regions. That’s why we can carry out the scheduled assessments on fairly standardized biosamples.
With Crohn’s disease, the other IBD, the localization of the inflamed bowel sections is much more variable, making a standardized characterization more difficult. The intermediate goal is to apply the techniques we use here to also study Crohn’s disease in the future.