The past 25 years have completely changed our view of sphingolipids, which were previously considered to be primarily structural elements of cellular membranes. We now know that sphingolipids are central to many fundamental cellular processes. Very recent efforts have translated these insights into clinical applications directed at treating, for example, multiple sclerosis, cancer, cystic fibrosis, pneumonia, major depression, neuro-degenerative diseases, or macular degeneration.
This RTG on the Biomedicine of the acid sphingomyelin/acid ceramide system aims to provide training for PhD, MD/PhD, MD students and high school students in the emerging field of the biomedicine of sphingolipids. The proposed dissertation projects focus strictly on the acid sphingomyelinase (Asm)/ceramide/acid ceramidase (Ac)/sphingosine/sphingosine kinase (SPK)/sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) pathway and will investigate the significance of this pathway in inflammatory disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and Graves' Orbitopathy; in infectious diseases, for example in systemic and pulmonary mycobacterial and P. aeruginosa infection; in cystic fibrosis; in cancer, in particular in the role of this pathway in both the resistance to radiation and in the successful treatment of malignancy; and in cardiovascular disease, including arteriosclerosis, ischemic infarct, and aneurysm formation. All projects translate basic science through pre-clinical projects into clinical applications.