Results of the first GSEV survey in Germany


Research on extracellular vesicles is on the rise, world-wide and also in Germany. This report summarizes the main findings of the first online survey that was conducted by the German Society for Extracellular Vesicles (GSEV). The eleven questions were aimed at identifying research topics of interest and ideas for future developments of GSEV.

Keywords: GSEV, extracellular vesicles, Germany


The German Society for Extracellular Vesicles (GSEV) was founded in 2017 and is a network of currently 222 scientists that have dedicated their work to extracellular vesicle (EV) research in Germany. In May 2023, GSEV conducted the first online survey among German EV researchers in order to learn about their interests, demands and expectations. A total of 76 scientists participated in the survey, among them 65 (88.67 %) official GSEV members. 45 (59.21 %) of the participates were senior scientists who had completed their PhD more than four years ago, and 31 (40.79 %) were junior scientists, including 19 (25 %) PhD students and 12 (15.79 %) early career post-docs who had completed their PhD less than four years ago.

EV biomarkers and EVs in cancer are the top research interests in Germany

The survey participants were asked to describe the main focus of their EV research. As shown in Figure 1A, the terms EV biomarkers (60.53 %) and EVs in cancer (53.95 %) are dominating the German EV research landscape.

Other topics of interest comprise Novel methods for EV isolation and analysis (34.21 %), and EV biogenesis and trafficking (22.37 %) which are closely followed by EV drug delivery and therapeutics (15.79 %), EVs in neurological disorders (14.47 %) and the newly emerging topic of EVs in non-human organisms (9.21 %).

From the comments of the participants, EVs in tissue damage and repair was identified as another research topic of interest that should be on GSEV’s radar for integration into future scientific discussions. In line with the strong research interest in EV biomarkers, there seems to be a high demand on workshops that provide training for EV isolation from biofluids (60.53 %) as well as their analysis by flow cytometry (64.47 %), Omics (57.89 %), or labeling for functional studies (57.89 %) (Fig. 1B). In contrast, traditional EV characterization methods such as Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA), or western blot are less sought-after, which might be due to their already wide-spread application in German EV labs or their more simplistic workflow. Only 7.89 % of the participants indicated that they were not interested in visiting such workshops at all.

A call for more collaboration and networking

Since 2018, GSEV organizes two conferences each year: The joint meeting with the IGLD (Interdisziplinäre Gruppe für Labormedizin & Durchflusszytometrie e.V.) in March as well as an autumn meeting that has been held in Marburg (2018), Freising (2019), Freiburg (2021) and Salzburg (2022). As part of the outreach initiative of GSEV, the meetings in Freising and Salzburg were co-organized with the Austrian Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ASEV). To further expand international cooperation, the upcoming autumn meeting in 2023 will be organized together with the MObility for Vesicles research in Europe (MOVE) consortium in Malaga. Around half of the survey participants indicated that they have regularly attended the GSEV/IGLD meeting (52.63 %) and/or the GSEV autumn meeting (46.05 %) (Fig. 2A+B).

The most common reasons for not attending were related to other obligations.

A striking majority of the participants voted in favor of organizing future GSEV autumn meetings in cooperation with other European EV societies (81.58 %) (Fig. 2C) suggesting that GSEV should follow its path for bi- or multinational EV conferences. On the last GSEV/IGLD meeting in March, it was proposed to organize a German EV journal club. The opinion of the German EV researchers on this topic is ambiguous. Around half of the survey participants were in favor of a German EV journal club (53.33 %), however, a large number of participants was not interested in participating in another journal club (40 %) (Fig. 2D). Among the junior scientists, the interest was slightly higher (64.52 % in favor, 32.26 % against). Therefore, GSEV is currently discussing alternative interactive formats that could foster scientific exchange in EV-related questions amongst its members.

Future perspectives for GSEV

The responses of the study participants to the open question about future expectations for GSEV expressed a strong demand for more opportunities for networking and collaboration, including the cooperation with other European EV societies, clinical partners, or funding agencies as well as a more frequent exchange among GSEV members (Fig. 3).

Around 17 % of the answers asked for more support of junior researchers, mostly in the form of workshops, or career advice. Interestingly, 6.25 % of the answer expressed an interest for GSEV in defining standards for EV-related methods, underlining that the ongoing discussion and lack of standardization of EV research still causes uncertainty among scientists in the field.

Several answers indicated that the communication of GSEV regarding its activities, or meeting schedules could be improved. The survey participants indicated to follow GSEV updates both via traditional channels such as the GSEV website (37.33 %) but increasingly also via social media, including Twitter (36 %), or LinkedIn (30.67 %) (Fig. 4).

To address the need for more communication, GSEV has started to increase the frequency of its newsletters and has recruited two associated board members in charge of the GSEV outreach activities via social media.


In summary, the results of the first survey among German EV researchers have provided valuable information about the German EV landscape that will be of importance to shape future GSEV activities. A special focus should be put on the need for more education and training in specific EV-related methodology, as well as for more collaboration and outreach activities.


We thank all participants of the survey for taking their time to answer the questions and to help fostering EV research in Germany.

Furthermore, I would like to acknowledge all official and associated GSEV board members for the helpful discussions and their support regarding the survey design.

Kerstin Menck
Dept. of Medicine A
University Hospital Münster