DFG to support twelve new Clinical Research Units

November 06, 2001

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) is to set up twelve new Clinical Research Units in a bid to boost medical research at the university clinics. This was decided by the DFG Grants Committee at its meeting on the 26th October 2001. The DFG is thus implementing the recommendations of its 1999 memorandum on clinical research that are aimed at far-reaching improvements in clinical research in Germany. In the new plans, Clinical Research Units, which are now being funded jointly by the DFG and the respective local higher education institution, are to serve as an instrument generating structures on the way to an institutionalisation of clinical science and research in Germany.

The aim is to promote distinguished groups of scientists and innovative research projects in the framework of a Research Unit at the Medical Departments, with the setting up of a Clinical Research Unit being conditional on the establishment of a research professorship. What is new is that the higher education institution concerned is obliged to provide 50 percent of funding over a running period of six years. At the same time, close co-operation between clinic scientists and basic researchers has to be ensured. This is to facilitate a networking of clinical research as well as professional standards, the establishment of new training structures and support for junior scientists. In addition, the Research Units are to contribute to the medical departments' and higher education institutions' developing a distinctive image.

Regarding the background to the new Clinical Research Groups, the DFG submitted a memorandum on the situation of clinical research in August 1999 (verbatim at http://www.dfg.de/aktuell/download/klinische_forschung.html). It describes the situation of clinical research in Germany, analyses its deficits and demonstrates approaches to making improvements. It advocates providing scope for clinical researchers to specialise in medical branches at an early stage in their careers and doing way with career-oriented "pro forma research", which does not serve the purpose of scientific advancement but that of vocational qualification. Against this background, the memorandum calls for a separation of the purely clinical career from the scientific career among medical scientists. And it recommends that the Clinical Research Units, which have been funded with special means provided by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research since 1988, be continued with the DFG's own funds and on the basis of a modified programme.

Following the announcement of the Clinical Research Units programme in May 2000, the DFG received a total of 58 applications with proposals for research schemes, which were reviewed by the DFG Senate commission for clinical research. Fourteen initiatives were selected and requested to submit detailed applications. Twelve Clinical Research Units have now been approved: molecular mechanisms of opioid analgesia in inflammatory pain, FU Berlin biomechanics and biology of bone healing: individual, strain-appropriate osteosynthesis, Humboldt University, Berlin osteogenic stem cell differentiation and therapy of bone loss, Würzburg University immune pathogenesis and intervention strategies in mucous infections, FU Berlin growth control of neoplastic B-cells: tumour biology and molecular therapy approaches, Humboldt University, Berlin end-organ damage in arterial hypertonia: pathogenetic significance of non-haemodynamic processes, Erlangen-Nuremberg University neuronal plasticity and learning processes in pain chronification: basics, prevention and therapy, Heidelberg University ophthalmological oncology and genetics, Essen University and Comprehensive University stem cell transplantation and immune modulation - molecular therapy approaches in paediatrics, Hanover Medical University intersexuality - from the gene to the sexual identity, Lübeck University normal and disturbed attention processes and how they can be influenced therapeutically: from the basics to clinical application, Aachen University molecular neurogenetics, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich
Submission of applications to the DFG is possible at any time in future.

Further information can be called up on the Internet at http://www.dfg.de/aktuell/klifo_programm.html Details can also be obtained from the medical departments of the DFG Central Office, Kennedyallee 40, D-53175 Bonn, tel. ++49 (0) 228/885-1, fax: ++49 (0) 228/885-27 77.

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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