Each year, the researchers from the five German Center for Lung Research (DZL) sites and their associated partners meet to exchange their findings on new results, methods and possible cooperations. This year, in July 2022, after a two-year break due to the pandemic, well over 500 participants came to Hanover to attend the German Center for Lung Research (DZL) Annual Conference.
Scientific catch-up on the one hand and promising new technologies on the other - this tenor ran through many presentations. The researchers agreed that much has been achieved in the past 10 years. They also agreed that there are still huge gaps in our knowledge about the development and progression of lung diseases. But there was also a noticeable sense of confidence that many of these gaps can be closed, with the help of new techniques - from imaging and single cell analysis to artificial intelligence and data science.
In the area of asthma, Erika von Mutius, director of the DZL's Munich site, pointed to the influence of perinatal factors on the development of the disease. In view of the associated loss of lung function in some children, she pleaded for cross-disease exchange: "A loss of lung function is also found in other lung diseases such as COPD or bronchopulmonary dysplasia of the premature infant. Through better networking in the DZL, we can learn a lot from each other."
Among others, Herbert Schiller (DZL Munich site, CPC-M) and Hans-Ulrich Kauczor (DZL TLRC site) gave an insight into the innovations that should enable earlier diagnosis and better treatment of lung diseases. The latter presented modern imaging methods for the Platform Imaging, which allow unprecedented insights into organs, tissues or cells in 3D or with higher resolutions or stronger contrasts.
For Herbert Schiller, single cell analysis is one of the most promising future methods in the life sciences. With its help, he wants to decipher when and why in the life of cells the switches are made from healthy/normal to sick/abnormal. His goals and desires: to train more junior researchers in single cell analysis and a DZL-wide web-based database for data exchange.
At the conclusion of the DZL Annual Meeting, DZL CEO Werner Seeger once again addressed the next generation of researchers, saying, "The future of lung research is still ahead of us." Especially the young scientists are called upon to live and carry this "spirit". The team around CPC-M group leader Mareike Lehmann provided proof of this creative "spirit" at the reception of the DZL Academy, the DZL's network for young scientists. The group took the brilliant victory in the - not completely serious - Science Quiz.
In June 2023, the DZL Munich site, the CPC-M, will host the annual meeting.