BioMed X and Boehringer Ingelheim start new joint research group in bacterial modulation of innate immunity

Heidelberg, Germany, November 27, 2017 – BioMed X announced today the start of a new joint research group with Boehringer Ingelheim at the BioMed X Innovation Center in Heidelberg. The focus of the group will be to identify novel regulatory pathways within the innate immune system, through understanding molecular mechanisms employed by bacteria to evade or modulate innate immunity.

Bacterial pathogens have co-evolved with their human hosts for millions of years. As a consequence they have developed mechanisms to evade the host’s innate immune response, partly by specific modulation of regulatory pathways in immune cells. Therefore, the central hypothesis of this research project is that molecular mechanisms employed by bacteria for immune modulation can be systematically characterized and interrogated as starting points for novel therapeutic immune modulation concepts to treat autoimmune diseases and cancer.

First members of the new research group including the group leader were identified using BioMed X’s unique global crowdsourcing approach followed by an intense innovation boot camp in Heidelberg. Dr. Bachir El Debs, who was previously working as a senior postdoctoral fellow at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, is an expert in high-throughput microscopy and will lead the new research group at BioMed X. In the following 2-4 years of his project term, Dr. El Debs will use a unique and systematic experimental approach to elucidate pathogen-mediated modulation of innate immunity.

“We are excited to host the third group of our partner Boehringer Ingelheim at BioMed X”, said Christian Tidona, founder and Managing Director of BioMed X. “Our ongoing successful collaboration clearly indicates an exceptional level of mutual trust and confidence in our new innovation model.”

In 2015 BioMed X and Boehringer Ingelheim signed a framework agreement for early-stage preclinical biomedical research. Since that time, three research groups have been launched, the first one focusing on epigenetics and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the second on brain microcircuits in psychiatric diseases, and the third one on pathogen-mediated modulation of innate immunity.

About BioMed X Innovation Center

The BioMed X Innovation Center is an exciting new collaboration model at the interface between academia and industry. At the center, distinguished early career scientists recruited from all over the world jointly work on novel pre-clinical research projects in the fields of biomedicine, molecular biology, cell biology, diagnostics and consumer care. These interdisciplinary project teams conduct groundbreaking biomedical research in an open innovation lab facility on the campus of the University of Heidelberg, Germany. They are working under the guidance of experienced mentors from academia and industry while expanding their scientific network and receiving entrepreneurship and leadership training. Each team is typically sponsored by a corporate pharma partner of BioMed X. After a fully funded project term, successful projects are either internalized into the development pipeline of the respective pharma partner or transformed into an independent start-up company. BioMed X collaborates with pharma companies such as AbbVie, Boehringer Ingelheim, Janssen, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Roche.


Bettina Rohmann-Lawrenz
Communications Manager
+49 151 20192986