Partner 1: Medizinische Hochschule Hannover (MHH)

Coordinator, WP Leader WP1 Management, WP4 Clinical Study, Clinical Centre

The Medizinische Hochschule Hannover (MHH) is a biomedical university with a large, integrated tertiary referral hospital with a strategic focus on the defined research areas of (I) infection, immunity, and inflammation, (II) transplantation and stem cells, and (III) biomedical engineering and medical implants. Being one of the leading research-active medical schools in Germany, the MHH consistently ranks among the top three medical faculties in Germany with respect to peer-reviewed grant income and funding volume per professor, with extra mural grants totaling 81.2M€ in 2009, including 30 funded projects under FP6 and to date 25 under FP7. In patient care, the MHH has gained international reputation for its programs in cell therapy, transplantation medicine and device therapy. It is one of the largest transplantation centres worldwide. 

Patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases are treated in the Department of Pediatric Cardiology, Department of Cardiology and the Department of Cardiothoracic, Transplantation and Vascular Surgery (HTTG). The large number of patients treated and the corresponding clinical data bases provide an excellent basis for basic, translational and clinical research. The HTTG ranks among one of the most research-active surgical units, both nationally and internationally. It has a long history in innovative cardiac surgery and heart transplantation (HTx) with over 1000 HTx performed since 1983. Within the HTTG, the Leibniz Laboratories for Biotechnology and Artificial Organs (LEBAO), founded in 1996 by Prof. A. Haverich) focuses on stem cell research and tissue engineering. LEBAO’s extensive expertise and progress provided the pivotal foundation for the establishment of the Excellence Cluster “REBIRTH – From Regenerative Biology to Reconstructive Therapy” funded under the German Excellence Initiative.

The MHH will be responsible for the overall coordination of ESPOIR (Professor Haverich) , the management of WP4 Clinical Trial Regulatory Affairs (Dr. Sarikouch) and will implant 25 DHV for pulmonary valve replacement within the clinical trial. As a precursor to the work proposed under ESPOIR, Haverich et al. pioneered the first tissue-engineered pulmonary heart valves which have been shown to grow in accordance with the recipient after implantation in pediatric patients. The development of bioartificial heart valves has recently been extended to aortic valves. Addressing the need for appropriate pre-vascularisation of engineered bioartificial tissue, different concepts of pre-vascularized matrices are currently being developed and tested in large animal models. In addition, the HTTG has a vast experience in clinical studies aimed at introducing novel valve implants. 

Contributors to ESPOIR 

Prof. Dr. med. Axel Haverich, Head of HTTG, Coordinator ESPOIR
PD Dr. med. Samir Sarikouch, Senior Physician, Clinical Trial Director for ESPOIR
Dr. med. Serghei Cebotari, Senior Surgeon
Dr. med. Igor Tudorache, Senior Surgeon
PD Dr. med. Dietmar Böthig, Statistician
Katrin Fuchs, Study Coordinator