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Hertie foundation extends the "Hertie Network of Excellence in Clinical Neuroscience" funding program

31st January 2023

Basic research and clinical research must work more closely together to improve the development of therapies for the benefit of patients - this is the goal of the Hertie Network of Excellence in Clinical Neuroscience. The network brings together six top sites focusing on clinical brain research and offers career prospects for excellent young researchers. Following a successful review, the funding program will continue for three more years, with the non-profit Hertie foundation providing approximatly € 6.5 million.

The network consists of six locations in Germany: Berlin, Bonn, Hamburg, Heidelberg/Mannheim, Munich and Tübingen. At each location, four young researchers (fellows) take part in the specially developed qualification program, the Hertie Academy. The fellows are both clinician scientists and medical scientists, with the aim of strengthening collaboration between basic and clinical research. The sites each contribute € 330,000 of own funds for the fellows' research projects and provide the complete scientific infrastructure.

The neurological clinics of Heidelberg University Hospital (UKHD) and Mannheim University Medical Center (UMM) form the Heidelberg/Mannheim site in the Hertie Foundation's Excellence Network; together they are dedicated to the topic of neuro-oncology. In the first funding phase, four fellows successfully completed the career program, which combines top university research with an excellent qualification program within the framework of the Hertie Academy - three at the Heidelberg site, one in Mannheim.

"The network has connected the sites in neuroscience and offers our fellows exceptional opportunities to develop their own projects and profiles. For the neuro-oncology focus of our outstanding Cancer Campus, the neuroscientific input from the other sites is particularly valuable," says the spokesperson for the Heidelberg/Mannheim site, Professor Dr. Wolfgang Wick, executive director of the Neurological Clinic at the UKHD and head of the Clinical Cooperation Unit Neurooncology at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg.

"The funding of the first fellows has contributed significantly to the decisive development of four highly talented physician scientists, who are specifically dedicated to the research of brain tumors, and to networking with the fellows at the other sites. They have become independent during their fellowship and their research approaches have been significantly fertilized by the Hertie Network," explains the deputy spokesperson for the Heidelberg/Mannheim site, Professor Dr. Michael Platten, director of the Department of Neurology at UMM and head of the Clinical Cooperation Unit Neuroimmunology and Brain Tumor Immunology at the DKFZ.

To bring together distributed excellence across the sites, six symposia were held during the first funding period from 2019 to 2022. In addition, a digital, privacy-compliant exchange platform was also established for cross-institutional networking. This gives participants the opportunity to work on cross-site projects and joint publications, or to conduct multicenter studies. The success of the collaboration is measurable: around 15 cross-site scientific projects were carried out in the first funding period. The cross-site work will be further intensified in the next three years.

In addition to financial support, the fellows also benefit from a three-year education program at the Hertie Academy focusing on topics such as leadership, collaboration and science communication. "At the Hertie Academy, we teach key skills for the fellows' next career steps to enable them to take on key leadership positions in the coming years," says Dr. Astrid Proksch, managing director of the non-profit Hertie foundation. "The highly talented scientists and our partner sites are leading the Hertie network to success."

About the Hertie Network of Clinical Neuroscience

In order to decisively accelerate the process from the laboratory to everyday clinical practice and to advance it for the benefit of patients, the non-profit Hertie foundation established the Hertie Network of Excellence in Clinical Neuroscience in 2019.