DFG establishes three new clinical research units

December 10, 2004

To continue the improvement of the clinical research infrastructure in Germany the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) is establishing three new Clinical Research Units. With the decision by the Grants Committee on General Research Support on 3 December 2004 the DFG is now funding a total of 25 Units at 15 German universities. The objective of the programme is to act as an instrument for developing research oriented structures, with the ultimate goal being the institutionalisation of scientific clinical research in Germany. To this end the programme promotes particularly distinguished groups of scientists and innovative research projects at medical faculties. The establishment of a Clinical Research Unit by the DFG is contingent on the university providing half of the funding and establishing a research professorship to head the unit. The funding is intended to last for six years and to support young researchers in particular. In addition, the Research Units are expected to contribute towards enhancing the profile of the participating medical faculties and universities.

The three new units in detail:

Gastrointestinal tumours are responsible for about a quarter of deaths resulting from cancer, and thus constitute a significant clinical problem. The aim of the Clinical Research Unit "Gastrointestinal Tumours: From the Molecular Concept to Clinical Application" at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich is to develop novel therapeutic approaches for treating patients with advanced tumours in the gastrointestinal tract. They aim to use targeted analysis to study the molecular fundamentals of tumour biology.

A new Clinical Research Unit is being established at the Medical Faculty of the University of Lübeck to study glucose regulation in the brain. The researchers involved in the Unit "Selfish Brain: Brain Glucose and the Metabolic Syndrome" will be investigating a new model. They are working on the assumption that the body's energy balance is centrally regulated by the brain, and that it is not the serum glucose concentration which governs the metabolism.

Brain glucose regulation is critical for higher organisms since a lack of glucose (neuroglycopenia) can result in dysfunction and can even be fatal.

Hepatitis C infection is still a serious health problem. More than 170 million people worldwide, and 500,000 in Germany alone, are infected with this virus. The success rate of the therapeutic methods available to date is only around 50 to 60 percent. The Clinical Research Unit "Mechanisms of Resistance Development and Optimisation of Antiviral Strategies for Hepatitis C Virus Infection Incorporating Integrative Models of Biomathematics and Biocomputing" being established at the Saarland University Hospital will characterise resistance mechanisms of existing and new antiviral therapies. The aim is to develop individualised therapies and new types of therapy for treating this disease. The interdisciplinary approach of the research unit encompasses both clinical and immunological as well as biomathematical and pharmacological problems.
Further information
Further information on Clinical Research Units and the respective contacts are available online at http://www.dfg.de/en/research_funding/coordinated_programmes/clinical_research_units/.

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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