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Federal government increases funds to research common diseases
Research in the area of common diseases is to be expanded significantly. The federal government plans to invest several billion euros to improve research and control of the most common diseases in Germany.
At a press conference at the Charité, Federal Health Minister Philipp Rösler (FDP) and Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan (CDU) presented the new framework research program for health research, with which the Federal Government wants to intensify its fight against so-called common diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. The framework program determines, among other things, how health research at universities and clinics should be funded over the next eight years. A major change compared to previous research programs is that the activities of all players in the healthcare system to research common diseases should be bundled more.
Intensify research and treatment of common diseases The German government plans to invest a total of 5.5 billion euros in research into common diseases by 2014. In addition, the framework program for health research provides for the formation of six “German Centers for Health Research”, which will deal with the research of the most important common diseases. Two of these centers, the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases for the Study of Diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, and the German Center for Diabetes Research have already been opened, the locations of the remaining four are to be determined by summer 2011. According to the plans of the German government, the health research centers still to be opened will focus on research into cancer, infectious diseases, cardiovascular diseases and lung diseases. Each center should consist of several partner locations at which universities and non-university institutions work closely together, the ministers said at the press conference. "These six German centers are at the heart of the framework program," emphasized Minister Schavan.
The Federal Minister hopes that the six health research centers will also help to establish new therapies more quickly in regular care. With the measures of the framework program, the transition from research results to medical practice should be designed as quickly as possible, said the Federal Research Minister Schavan. Philipp Rösler also emphasized the importance of health services research in the health research framework program, because it is about "how new treatments can get to people as quickly as possible". According to Ulrich Dirnagl, Head of Experimental Neurology at the Berlin Charité, it has taken between ten and 30 years for a medical discovery to reach the patient. Here, stronger networking of research would bring clear advantages, according to the physician.
Expand interdisciplinary research on common diseases For example, research on stroke, as one of the most widespread common diseases, should not focus solely on the brain, explained Ulrich Dirnagl. The main causes are infections and, in particular, pneumonia. As part of networked research and treatment, newer stroke therapies therefore aim to detect and treat a weakening of the immune system through infections at an early stage, the expert emphasized. "Where basic research and clinics are closely intertwined, such problems can be tackled and that is why we can expect a lot from these centers in the future," Dirnagl explained. The Federal Minister of Health also underlined the importance of research in the field of strokes, because with 160,000 cases a year these are the most common neurological disease in Germany today.
Health research centers While the center for neurodegenerative diseases with its core center in Bonn and the center for diabetes research with partners in Munich, Düsseldorf, Potsdam, Tübingen and Dresden are already in full swing, the German Center for Cardiac Circular research along with other universities jointly advertised the Berlin institutions Charité, the German Heart Center, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the German Institute for Nutritional Research in Potsdam. The Charité is also expected to participate in the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research. The Federal Research Minister emphasized: "In July we can then present the map of Germany with the six centers to you".
Framework program for health research determines further areas of action The federal government takes over the majority of the funding for the six health research centers to be created in the framework research program with around 90 percent. 500 million euros are earmarked for the development and expansion of the research centers over the next four years. Schavan described the supporting program as a "milestone" that also received great international attention. The six research centers make it possible to break new ground in research into the most important common diseases, the Minister concluded. In addition to researching common diseases, the framework program for health research also mentions other areas of focus, such as nutrition, preventive measures, cost-effectiveness, a stronger focus on medicine for the individual and international cooperation. Professor Karl Max Einhäupl, CEO of the Charité during the press conference, explained that research and treatment, particularly in the area of common diseases, has to do with the fact that people are getting older. The specialist added: Every second girl born today will live to be over 100 years old. (fp)
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