Chan Zuckerberg Initiative: 340.000 Euro Grant

Worldwide project explores the pediatric respiratory system

Herbert Schiller and Anne Hilgendorff from the DZL site Munich (CPC-M) will receive a grant of nearly 340.000 Euro from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative for their research work in the project "Mapping the Pediatric Inhalation Interface: Nose, Mouth, and Airways". Another nearly 195.000 Euro will be granted to DZL-PI Fabian Theis from the Institute of Computational Biology (ICB, Helmholtz Munich).

Our respiratory system (RS) is an essential interface through which we humans interact with our environment. In addition to functions such as breathing, speaking, smelling, and tasting, it also controls local and systemic immunity, supports endocrine and metabolic functions, and shelters biologically important microbial communities. Mouth, nose and respiratory tract are connected by an unbroken fluid film of secretions that contains important messenger substances, cells and proteins essential for our immune defense. In its role as an interface, the RS is particularly susceptible to congenital and external disorders, which are among the most common and debilitating diseases. Despite its importance, we are still lacking in a holistic understanding of the entire interface in pediatric development.

"In the scope of the project 'Mapping the Pediatric Inhalation Interface', a global network of researchers will generate open-access, molecular data on the areas of mouth, nose, and airways from ethnically diverse groups from birth to pre-puberty," explained Herbert Schiller of the CPC-M. "We will participate with our expertise in proteomic analysis of body fluids and tissues using mass spectrometry and will combine this with single cell analysis using single cell genomics," Schiller adds. Anne Hilgendorff, a neonatologist also conducting research at CPC-M and the Perinatal Centre (site Großhadern, LMU), are supporting the collection of samples. Fabian Theis of the Institute for Computational Biology (ICB, Helmholtz Munich) will lead the integrated data analysis from all sites participating in the study.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan funds 17 research groups from 14 countries to better understand prevent and treat childhood diseases. Specifically, the goal is to contribute pediatric single-cell reference data to the global Human Cell Atlas, which will be a crucial resource for gaining insight into the cellular origins of disease onset in children.