Mission and Vision

Considerable health effects are known to be associated with ambient aerosols: The average loss of life expectancy attributable to particles in Germany is about 9-12 months. The effects of recent measures to reduce the ambient particulate matter concentration such as the low emission zones in German cities are controversially discussed. In addition, the increasing number of wood fired household heating-systems and the addition of 10% bio-fuel to the gasoline, beginning in from 2011 rather suggest the problem to grow more acute. Although health-importance of aerosols is well known, there’s still a lack of knowledge on the question which aerosol fraction or property is involved in the induction of the observed adverse health effect. This research gap is addressed by HICE.

Based on current hypotheses, reactive organic compounds in particle as well as in gas phase of aerosols are particularly relevant. Innovative in-vitro human lung tissue models are exposed to aerosols, and separated gas and particle phases from relevant sources. The response of the biological system is investigated by state-of-the art analytical techniques on different biological levels (transcriptome, proteome, metabolome, toxicological parameters). A unique approach is the application of novel mass spectrometry based analytical methods for comprehensive, non-targeted analyses of small molecules in combination with stable isotope labelling approaches for detection of flux changes in the metabolism.