Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD: Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis) are characterized by chronic relapsing inflammatory processes in the gastrointestinal tract. Due to the progressive and destructive nature and the increasing frequency of both disorders, new insights into their pathophysiology as a rational basis for innovative therapeutic approaches are urgently needed. However, the etiological background of these diseases remains poorly understood and still holds many open questions, particularly with regard to the in-depth understanding of local cell – cell interactions. As a joined initiative between Erlangen and Berlin, the TRR 241 will integrate aspects and knowledge about mucosal immune regulation and epithelial barrier defense into a new concept highlighting the role of immune-epithelial communication in the pathogenesis of IBD.

The driving hypothesis of our initiative is that a dysregulated signal exchange between the epithelium and immune cells and the consequences thereof contribute to the pathogenesis of IBD and we are confident that our specialized and multi-modal approaches to investigate these processes will give rise to unique and innovative strategies to counter IBD. This CRC initiative brings together a group of highly experienced gastroenterologists, immunologists and cellular and molecular biologists with expertise in experimental, translational and clinically-oriented research to ensure the realization of the aims defined in this proposal. The research program of this CRC has been designed to advance not only basic concepts of IBD development, but also to provide an outstanding platform for translational studies and pre-clinical and clinical testing. Our research efforts are built on a solid fundament of state-of-the-art technology platforms, such as in vivo imaging, next generation sequencing, intestinal organoid technology and molecular imaging present in both Erlangen and Berlin.