Research Group Prof. Dr. Burkhard Ludewig

The research group of Prof. Dr. Ludewig investigates basic immunological and translational research on immune defense against infectious agents, tumor immunology, and cardioimmunology. The overall focus of the research is on the interactions between fibroblasts and immune cells during development and in different disease situations.

Current research projects


Defining the identity and differentiation pathways of the immune-stimulating fibroblastic tumor stroma

The composition of the tumor microenvironment of non-small cell lung cancers shows a
very high proportion of fibroblastic stromal cells. This collaborative project will reveal novel insights into the origin, identity, function and relation of immune-stimulating fibroblasts in the context of the lung tumor stroma. Moreover, we expect that these studies will reveal putative therapeutic targets to bias the composition of the tumor stroma by promoting the differentiation of an immune-stimulating tumor environment. 

Swiss National Science Foundation, Sinergia
Principal investigator: Burkhard Ludewig, Co-applicants: Mark Robinson, Maries van den Broek, Bernd Bodenmiller (Universität Zürich)

Stromal cell niches at the nexus of the innate lymphoid cell interactome

Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) critically impact a diverse array of diseases. While the main cellintrinsic
pathways that regulate ILC development and their functions have been characterized,
the cell-extrinsic microenvironments that determine where, when and how ILCs are maintained and their activity is controlled, have remained largely unknown. In this project, we will investigate fibroblastic reticular cells that generate essential niches for ILCs, are required for their maintenance, differentiation and regulation in secondary lymphoid organs, and thereby determine the outcome of immune reactions.
This study will help to guide strategies for ILC- and stromal cell-targeting therapies.

Swiss National Science Foundation
Principal investigator: Burkhard Ludewig

Deciphering the transcriptomic landscape of cancer-associated fibroblasts in pancreatic cancer – an exploratory clinical study.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is one of the most aggressive cancer types, where patients with metastatic pancreas cancer are still left without curative treatment options. Currently, the immunosuppressive nature of the tumor microenvironment is seen as the main obstacle because different cell populations appear to collaborate and promote tumor growth and metastasis. In this project, we will perform high-throughput RNA sequencing on the single cell level to study the fibroblasts in the tumor ecosystem and identify the development and activity of immune-stimulating fibroblasts.

Krebsforschung Schweiz

Monique Dornonville de la Cour – Stiftung
Principal investigator: Burkhard Ludewig

Spatial transcriptomics for the dissection of cardiac inflammation and structural remodeling in myocarditis patients

Myocarditis is an acute inflammatory heart disease that can progress to chronic cardiomyopathy and heart failure. The goal of this project is to decipher the molecular pathways that govern the interaction of immune cells with stromal cells in the cardiac tissue through the analysis of cardiac biopsies from human patients. We expect that the utilization of spatial transcriptomics, which combines comprehensive gene expression data with spatial information for the analysis of human heart samples will open new avenues for innovative research both in immunology and in cardiology.

Forschungsförderung Kantonsspital St.Gallen
Principal investigator: Burkhard Ludewig

Deciphering the molecular landscape of the stromal cells in human lymph nodes at the single-cell level

Specialized immune-interacting fibroblasts, generally termed fibroblastic reticular cells (FRC) form structures that underpin distinct microenvironments required for efficient immune cell interactions. In this project, the heterogeneity of fibroblast subsets as well as the molecular landscape of human lymph node
FRCs will be determined. The main goal of this project is to identify fibroblast subsets as well as to reconstruct the fibroblast ecosystem in the human lymph node.

Forschungsförderung Kantonsspital St.Gallen
Principal investigator: Burkhard Ludewig

Identification and characterization of stromal targets and the generation of corresponding compounds for therapeutic intervention in humans.

The basic framework of immunologically active structures in lymphoid organs and inflamed tissues of various chronic diseases is formed by fibroblastic stromal cells. Targeted pharmacological manipulation of fibroblastic stromal cells may lead to new treatment pathways in chronic inflammatory responses and tumor diseases.

Research collaboration Stromal Therapeutics AG
Principal investigator: Burkhard Ludewig



Research and clinical trial database

In the research and clinical trial database of the KSSG, you will find more detailed information about the individual research projects and publications of the research group.

Prof. Dr. Burkhard Ludewig is Head of the Medical Research Center of the Kantonsspital St.Gallen, leads the Laboratory for Immunobiology, and works in the Heart Center at the University Hospital of Zurich.