CRC for Brown and Beige Fat Organ Crosstalk, Signaling and Energetics

November 26, 2021

Prof. Dr. Med. Alexander Pfeifer, Speaker of the CRC for Brown and Beige Fat Organ Crosstalk, Signaling and Energetics (photo: Johann Saba / UKB)


Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Pfeifer becomes speaker of the newly founded Collaborative Research Center for Brown and Beige Fat Organ Crosstalk, Signaling and Energetics


Worldwide, the number of overweight and obese patients is increasing, and consequently diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Obesity is also a risk factor for developing severe Covid19. In the Transregional Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 333 "Brown and Beige Fat Organ Crosstalk, Signaling and Energetics ( BATenergy)", researchers from the University of Bonn and the University Hospital Bonn, the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Helmholtz Zentrum München are investigating different types of adipose tissue and their role in metabolic diseases. As speaker of the CRC, Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Pfeifer, member of the Cluster of Excellence and head of the institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University Clinics Bonn, was appointed.

The CRC’s research focus lies on brown fat cells, which are specialized in converting energy into heat. This makes them fundamentally different from white fat cells, which store energy in the form of fat. But even in white adipose tissue there are isolated brown fat cells, called "beige" cells. The goal of the CRC is to characterize the function of brown adipose cells at all levels, to uncover new communication pathways within our body, and thus to develop new therapeutic approaches for metabolic diseases in the future.

Brown adipose tissue is activated by cold. The researchers want to identify the body's own messenger substances and find out how different organs regulate brown fat. "This will provide a new picture of mutual communication of adipose tissue with other metabolic organs," says Prof. Dr. Alexander Pfeifer.

In their projects, the teams use state-of-the-art molecular biology methods as well as cell culture systems of fat cells and investigate metabolism from mice to humans. In this way, they hope to uncover new molecular mechanisms and target structures for drugs. On the long term, this should lead to new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of metabolic disease.

The vice speakers Prof. Dr. Jörg Heeren from the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology of the UKE and Prof. Dr. Henriette Uhlenhaut from the TUM School of Life Sciences emphasize that the CRC uniquely brings together expert teams from metabolism research at three German Universities of Excellence and the Helmholtz Zentrum in Munich.

The CRC is thematically embedded in the Transdisciplinary Research Areas "Life and Health" and "Sustainable Futures" of the University of Bonn. At the UKE, the CRC is thematically assigned to the interdisciplinary research area C3I (Center for Inflammation, Infection and Immunity).



Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Pfeifer
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
University of Bonn
Phone: +49-228-287-51300/51302