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Germany risks lagging behind in genomic medicine

Interview with Prof. Dr. Michael Krawczak, Jürgen Eils, and Dr. Roman Siddiqui

On 10.12.2018, scientists from various disciplines will convene in Berlin to discuss current developments and challenges in genomic medicine. The workshop, entitled "OMICS in Medical Research", will be held for the second time by the Technology and Methods Platform for Networked Medical Research (TMF). In an interview, Prof. Dr. Michael Krawczak, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein Campus Kiel, Jürgen Eils, University Hospital Heidelberg, and Dr. Roman Siddiqui, TMF e. V. explain why Germany needs a national strategy for genomic medicine in order not lag behind internationally.



Germany losing ground in genome medicine

Experts criticise lack of a national strategy

11 December 2018. Approximately 100 genomics experts attended the OMICS in Medical Research workshop on 10 December 2018 in Berlin, organised by TMF, to discuss developments and challenges in genome medicine in Germany. The participants expressed concern that the German scientific community is losing ground on a huge scale in comparison to international genome medicine activities. As Professor Michael Krawczak, Chairman of the TMF Board of Directors, and Director of University Medical Centre, Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel Campus, explains: “Although German genome research is in very good shape through a number of lighthouse facilities, the results are not finding their way into broad-based application within patient care.”



DO-IT project under the aegis of the IMI: TMF brings together data protection experts, researchers and the pharmaceuticals industry

European consent form template for medical studies

29 October 2018. The big Data for better Outcomes, policy Innovation and healthcare system Transformation (DO-IT) project is part of the European Union and EFPIA’s Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI). Within the scope of DO-IT, representatives of national data protection agencies and ethics commissions within Europe met with pharmaceuticals industry professionals and scientific community delegates at TMF in Berlin on 11 and 12 October to exchange opinions and insights.



Global health: epidemics require cross-border solutions

350 scientists from diverse disciplines converge at the 10th German National Symposium on Zoonoses Research

18 October 2018. Epidemics are an international issue: from the Ebola, West Nile and Zika viruses to multidrug-resistant bacteria, pathogens do not recognise geopolitical borders. Against this background, approximately 350 professionals from human and veterinary medicine, epidemiologists, data scientists and basic researchers met in Berlin at the 10th German National Symposium for Zoonoses Research. The event, which took place from 17 to 19 October, provided an opportunity to discuss and debate how to best research, monitor and contain these diseases. As Professor Christian Drosten of Charité University Hospital, Berlin, stated at the symposium’s opening: “Global health is a major issue in research and politics, and the international health risks posed by pandemics are heightened in the age of globalisation.”



Promoting data sharing: discussing hurdles and incentives

Medical Informatics Initiative (MII) workshop identifies wide range of perspectives on data sharing

23 May 2018. What preconditions would help – or hinder – the exchange of data? This question was a key focus of the Medical Informatics Initiative’s workshop on data sharing, which took place from 19 to 20 April 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Attendees agreed that data sharing cannot be enforced from above; instead, standardised structures and regulations can pave the way for the necessary cultural change.



Research meets patient care: TMF provides support for digital transformation in medicine

150 attendees at the 10th TMF annual conference 2018 in Hamburg

20 March 2018. “TMF has provided support for digital transformation in medical research for over 15 years. So a TMF conference dedicated to digitalisation is somewhat of an anachronism,” observed Professor Michael Krawczak (University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel Campus), Chairman of the TMF Board of Directors, at the opening of the 10th TMF annual conference on 14 March 2018 at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf. What is new, however, is the close link between research and healthcare – a focus that shaped the conference programme. At the two-day event, approximately 150 medical researchers, research managers, medical IT specialists, biobank experts and other professionals discussed the opportunities digital transformation is creating in medical research and healthcare. They also exchanged insights into challenges and possibilities for collaboration, and presented best-practice examples.



Combining clinical routine and research data for better insights

17 partners from university hospitals, research and industry organisations launch medical informatics project

On 20 February 2018, the Smart Medical Information Technology for Healthcare (SMITH) consortium of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research’s (BMBF) Medical Informatics Initiative (MII) held a kick-off meeting to provide insights into its upcoming work. High-level representatives from SMITH’s seven participating university hospitals, its founding universities, and from its industry and research partners were all present.



Data integration in research and healthcare

The 2017 TMF School focused on the ideas at the heart of the Medical Informatics Initiative

22 June 2017. TMF School 2017, from 19 to 21 June in Schloss Rauischholzhausen near Giessen, Germany, highlighted a variety of topics – chosen, in part, to reflect the ideas behind the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research’s (BMBF) Medical Informatics Initiative (MII). These ranged from IT architecture to data management, standards and terminology, data protection and ethics, and dialogue with stakeholders. The initiative’s consortia are currently preparing for the start of the second phase of funding (development and networking phase).



Evaluating biobanks’ success based on their value for research

250 attendees in Berlin for the fifth National Biobank Symposium

15 December 2016. In future, biobanks’ success should be measured not only by the number of samples they store – but on how many of those resources are leveraged for research projects. This suggestion was made by Dominic Allen, Chief Operating Officer at the Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg (IBBL), during his keynote address at the beginning of the fifth German National Biobank Symposium. The event drew approximately 250 attendees to Berlin, Germany, on 7 and 8 December 2016.



Big data: improving data accessibility, integration and usability

150 attendees at a Berlin conference on the challenges and benefits of big data analytics in healthcare and research

14 December 2016. “X-rays, CT and MRI scans, and blood tests, generate huge volumes of heterogeneous data. Plus there are doctors’ reports and treatment histories in electric health records in hospital information systems (HIS). This data can be leveraged for research to improve patient care. But before this can take place, we need to improve and ensure data accessibility, integration and usability – enabling big-data analytics to be evidence-based,” emphasised Sebastian C. Semler (TMF) at a conference on big data in Berlin on 13 December 2016. The event was jointly hosted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs (BMWI)’s Smart Data initiative, the Bundesverband Gesundheits-IT (bvitg; an association of German healthcare IT providers), and TMF.


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