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German Research Minister Schavan: 'Rapid knowledge transfer can safe lives'

This release is available in German.

No progress without research this is particularly true for cancer medicine. The chances of cure for those affected can only be further increased if research results are swiftly transferred from the laboratory into clinical practice. Framework conditions for this research transfer, also called translational research, will now be optimized in Germany. Last Tuesday, German Research Minister Annette Schavan, Friedrich Carl Janssen, Chairman of German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe), and Professor Dr. Otmar D. Wiestler, Scientific Director of the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) presented the "National Consortium for Translational Cancer Research" in Berlin.

"Each year, more than 436,000 people in Germany are newly diagnosed with cancer, 210,000 patients die of cancer every year. Therefore, it is important to translate the latest findings of cancer research even more rapidly into patient care. To this end, we have founded the National Consortium for Translational Cancer Research," Schavan said. "We intend to further strengthen Germany's leading role in cancer research."

The consortium is established on the initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium fr Bildung und Forschung, BMBF), German Cancer Aid (Deutsche Krebshilfe) and the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ). The financial resources needed for the whole consortium over a period of ten years amount to 400 million euros.

"It has always been an endeavor of German Cancer Aid as a private organization to implement large projects jointly with public entities in order to create synergies. Apart from the fact that it makes sense for important private initiatives to collaborate with political institutions, ambitious projects can only be shouldered together. The joint project presented today is an excellent, future-oriented example of such a partnership," Janssen emphasized.

Key tasks of the national consortium include the creation and use of effective translational research units at partnering sites within a network throughout Germany. The DKFZ in Heidelberg as the core research center will collaborate with selected partners at university hospitals at up to six sites. "In this collaboration, DKFZ will be supported by excellent partners that will provide access to patients, samples and an effective clinical environment. In return, the sites will be given access to DKFZ's research programs," said Schavan. The sites will be selected by a committee of international experts by early 2010.

"Cancer research in Germany has gained an enormous amount of new findings in recent years. We understand more and more of the fundamental causes and development processes of cancer what matters now is that we transport this knowledge as swiftly and directly as possible into the clinical care of cancer patients," Professor Otmar D. Wiestler explained. "At the German Cancer Research Center, we have been able to gather a unique body of expertise for tight networking among basic research and clinical practice thanks to the foundation of the National Center for Tumor Diseases. Thus, we have created the best prerequisites for coordinating and advancing translational, i.e. application-oriented, cancer research in Germany under the leadership of our Center."

At the same time, research minister Schavan announced that the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and German Cancer Aid will jointly support the participation of a German research consortium in the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC). Both partners will jointly provide funds of approximately 15 million euros over a period of five years. This is intended as a contribution to the fight against tumor diseases with particularly high mortality. The ICGC aims to analyze the genetic changes in tumors of all human organ systems in order to facilitate and customize new and better applications in the areas of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the respective cancer types. The results will rapidly be made available to the research community as a basis for further research work. The project is planned to be launched in fall 2009. The ICGC is a large-scale biomedical project in which leading cancer researchers have joined forces.


Contact: Dr. Stefanie Seltmann
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres

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