DFG Clinical Research Unit (CRU) 326 Münster-Essen

Male Germ Cells: from Genes to Function


DFG Clinical Research Unit (CRU) 326

Funding period

07/2017-06/2020 (with the possibility of a 2nd funding period)

Participating institutions

  • University Münster: Centre of Reproductive Medicine and Andrology, Core Facility Genomics, Department of General Paediatrics, Institute for Cell Biology, Institute of Human Genetics, Institute of Medical Informatics,
    University Clinics Münster
  • Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine
  • Institute of Human Genetics at University Duisburg-Essen


Speaker: Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Jörg Gromoll
Designated Research Coordinator: Prof. Dr. med. Frank Tüttelmann
Project manager: Dr. rer. nat. Cristin Brand

Description / aims

Male infertility is a genetically and clinically highly heterogeneous disease. Thus, unravelling the underlying causes and the pathophysiology is challenging and requires an integrated approach. This Clinical Research Unit (CRU) investigates human male germ cell function from complete germ cell loss to sperm dysfunction at the genetic, epigenetic, and molecular level. We joined clinical and basic research institutions that primarily study male germ cell function with institutions that primarily focus on stem cells, paediatrics, and powerful animal models. Thus, this CRU consists of the three layers basic science, a network of research projects, and clinical research. These are interconnected by the ‘DNA’, i.e. the concerted research on the epi-/genetics of male germ cells and the professorship of ‘Reproductive Genetics’. The seven research and one core projects are tightly interlinked and address a unifying hypothesis: A wide spectrum of leading pathologies with the common denominator of male infertility share common epi-/genetic causes. The CRU will overcome the classical concept of male infertility as an isolated disease and create an integrated view allowing both forward (gene to patient) and reverse (patient to gene) approaches to identify novel epi-/genetic factors and associated phenotypes that impact germ cell function. This will significantly improve the diagnostic yield in infertile male patients and, ultimately, improve patient care.