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Charité Digital Clinician Scientist Pilot Program (D-CSP)
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) will fund the Charité Digital Clinician Scientist Pilot Program (D-CSP). The ideas is to improve and safeguard the current BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Program by building an additional structure for a novel “digital science” driven career track to prepare academic clinicians for the challenges of the emerging technological transformation of medicine.
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Designated Spokesperson is Prof. Dr. Duska Dragun. Co-applicants are the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence, Department of Experimental Neurology, Department of Pediatric Oncology and Hematology, Department of Radiology and Pediatric Radiology, Department of Surgery, Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB), Institute of Medical Biometrics and Clinical Epidemiology, Department of Neurology and Experimental Neurology, and the Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine.

With the changing dynamics in biomedical research having fully entered into the digital era, it is becoming increasingly clear after seven years of experience that we need more dedicated efforts to create opportunities by establishing stronger interfaces with physics, mathematics, systems biology, and computational sciences for future generations of Clinician Scientists. The newly proposed research and educational structure for integrating these new areas of expertise into the established CSP should act as a “central processing unit” to facilitate biomedical knowledge derived from a variety of clinical disciplines supported by leading technology experts to address the specific challenges of data-driven medicine in the future.

  • Precision medicine in cancer and beyond,
  • Systems biology,
  • Big data science and decision support systems,
  • Quantitative imaging,
  • Computational neuroscience and brain simulation, and
  • Augmented, mixed and virtual reality in surgery
are exemplary research topics highlight how applicants will interact with Digital Clinician Scientists to develop their skills in giving prognoses, optimizing delivery of care, and personalizing patient management and therapeutic choices.
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Our manuscript "Depletion of donor dendritic cells ameliorates immunogenicity of both skin and hind limb transplants" has been accepted for publication in Frontiers in Immunology, section Alloimmunity and Transplantation. Authors are Muhammad Imtiaz Ashraf, Joerg Mengwasser, Anja Reutzel-Selke, Dietrich Polenz, Kirsten Führer, Steffen Lippert, Peter Tang, Edward Michaelis, Rusan Catar, Johann Pratschke, Christian Witzel, Igor M. Sauer, Stefan G. Tullius, and Barbara Kern.

Acute cellular rejection remains a significant obstacle affecting successful outcomes of organ transplantation including vascularized composite tissue allografts (VCA). Donor antigen presenting cells (APC), particularly dendritic cells (DC), orchestrate early alloimmune responses by activating recipient effector T cells. Employing a targeted approach, we investigated the impact of donor-derived conventional DC (cDC) and APC on the immunogenicity of skin and skin-containing VCA grafts, using mouse models of skin and hind limb transplantation.
By post-transplantation day 6, skin grafts demonstrated severe rejections, characterized by predominance of recipient CD4 T cells. In contrast, hind limb grafts showed moderate rejection, primarily infiltrated by CD8 T cells. While donor depletion of cDC and APC reduced frequencies, maturation, and activation of DC in all analysed tissues of skin transplant recipients, reduction in DC activities was only observed in the spleen of hind limb recipients. Donor cDC and APC depletion did not impact all lymphocyte compartments but significantly affected CD8 T cells and activated CD4 T in lymph nodes of skin recipients. Moreover, both donor APC and cDC depletion attenuated the Th17 immune response, evident by significantly reduced Th17 (CD4+IL-17+) cells in the spleen of skin recipients and reduced levels of IL-17E and lymphotoxin-α in the serum samples of both skin and hind limb recipients. In conclusion, our findings underscore the highly immunogenic nature of skin component in VCA. The depletion of donor APC and cDC mitigates the immunogenicity of skin grafts while exerting minimal impact on VCA.

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