Scientific Focus

Our research area

Heart failure, when the heart fails to pump blood properly around the body, hospitalises more people in the Western world than any other condition. Our group aims to unravel the biological mechanisms underlying the stiffening of heart tissue that can lead to heart failure. We are using the knowledge gained from our recent discoveries to investigate novel treatment options for the condition. Our work employs a more refined approach than has ever been trialled before, based on an understanding of the variable factors involved in each case of heart failure.

Our recent discoveries involve oxidative stress and inflammation as a paradigm to the development of heart disease. The co-morbidities present with the condition raise levels of pro-inflammatory proteins in the blood and drive inflammation of cardiac vasculature. This disrupts signalling between the endothelial cells that line the small blood vessels within the heart muscle, cardiomyocytes and fibroblasts. Changes to any of these properties can be altered in heart disease and contribute to the diastolic stiffness characteristic of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). The aim of our proposed research is to deepen our basic understanding of heart failure and in particular HFpEF pathophysiology associated with comorbidities, age and sex differences, in order to provide firm foundations for clinical innovation. Our research team together with our national and international collaborators focus on working towards developing these specialised therapeutic approaches.


Nazha Hamdani, Head and principal investigator of Molecular and Experimental Cardiology.

Kornelia Jaquet, Principal Investigator.

Hans Georg Mannherz, Principal Investigator, Adjunct Anatomy and Embryology.


Dr. Arpad Kovacs, focuses on exploring and defining the molecular mechanisms underlying systolic and diastolic dysfunction in heart failure to allow for a development of precise therapies for each specific disease phenotype. Managing not only different HF phenotypes, but different stages of HF as a big challenge.

Dr.  Diana Cimiotti, focuses on the crosstalk between endothelial cells and cardiomyocytes as an emerged requisite for normal cardiac development, but also a key pathogenic player during the onset and progression of cardiac disease.

Dr. Maria Lodi, focuses on epigenetic modifications, translocation and function of oligomeric proteins in heart diseases.

Dr. Abdulatif Al Haj, focuses on stress and metabolic signaling in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.

Melissa Herwig, PhD student works on interactions between signalling pathways that are affected by oxidative stress and inflammation and how they may modulate cardiomyocyte function in heart failure and in particular in HFpEF.

Detmar Kolijn, PhD student, focuses on specific treatments for distinct subtypes of HFpEF, which may prove key in developing new therapies for patients via understanding and unravelling the molecular mechanisms that are unique to each form of the disease.

Saltanat Zhazykbayeva, PhD student exploring the contribution of the primarily activated stress signalling by exposure of cells to cytokines versus the stress signalling which are primarily activated due to the exposure of cells to extracellular stress growth factors to the development of heart diseases. Also studying protein interaction networks associated cardiovascular diseases

Carolin Frost, PhD student focuses on the role of soluble adenylyl cyclase for diagnosis in maligne melanomas

Nicole Klein, PhD student, focuses on the pathomechanism of stress induced cardiac hypertrophy and the pivotal role of some enzyme in stress induced cardiac hypertrophy.

Melina Tangos, PhD student, focuses on the role of exosomes, in the in the pathogenesis of atrial fibrillation and heart failure with preserved ejection fraction patients, in respect to their influence on function and gene expression of target cells and to their cargo (proteins, miRNA) to define biomarkers


Heidi Budde, focuses on myofilament proteins and the interaction of cardiac myosin binding protein C with thin filament proteins, especially cardiac troponin. In addition, she studies the impact of polymorphisms in myosin binding protein C and its phosphorylation on the interaction.


Roua Hassoun, phD student, focuses on the impact of severe infantile restrictive cardiomyopathy mutations (survival, max 2 years, only therapy: heart transplantation) on structure and function of reconstituted thin filaments and cardiomyocytes and the effect of some intervantions. The aim is a better understanding of the dysfunction induced by the mutations to extend the survival time of the infants until a heart transplantation is possible.


Master student

Lei Lu

Marcel Sieme

Simin Delalat

Thomas Schaaf


Link to our Publication List


We offer an international doctoral program with outstanding training and research opportunities related to the cardiovascular. It is of particular interest to those wishing to look beyond pure research and aim at translating their scientific discoveries into clinical applications.

 - The Translational Track is for all graduate students who are interested in the translational aspect of Cardiovascular.

 - Internships for medical, biology and biochemistry students are available on request.