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Expanding the role of informatics in medicine: fresh impetus for research and healthcare

The BMBF’s Medical Informatics funding scheme takes effect

12 October 2016. The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) recently launched its Medical Informatics initiative with the aim of improving the use of healthcare and research data. Specifically, the new funding scheme is intended to strengthen medical research and enhance patient care. To this end, BMBF will allocate 100 million euros over the coming years. During the first phase, consortia of university hospitals and partner organisations (e.g. research institutions, private clinics) will build and connect data integration centres. This will allow research and medical care data to be exchanged across multiple sites. In addition, the partners will simultaneously develop innovative IT solutions for concrete medical applications.

BMBF’s initiative has “spurred a development that will help us create intelligent solution strategies – that will advance healthcare by promoting collaboration between the worlds of medicine and informatics across multiple organisations,” explained Professor Heyo K. Kroemer, President of Medizinischer Fakultätentag (MFT). In addition, Professor D. Michael Albrecht, Chairman of the Executive Board of Verband der Universitätsklinika Deutschlands (VUD) described BMBF’s funding scheme as “important fresh impetus for research and healthcare.”

  

Consortia laying the foundations

Since August 2016, BMBF has funded seven consortia within the scope of the concept stage of its Medical Informatics initiative. These groups are tasked with developing strategies for data sharing and exchange, both between and beyond consortia. In addition, they are to create IT solutions for specific applications (medical use cases). Each consortium comprises a minimum of two university hospitals, plus clinics and other healthcare providers, research institutions, and enterprises from the healthcare industry:  

  • ADMIRE (Bonn, Essen, Münster, Cologne)
  • DIFUTURE (Augsburg, Munich, Tübingen)
  • HD4CR (Berlin, Würzburg, Ulm)
  • HiGHmed (Göttingen, Hanover, Heidelberg)
  • MIRACUM (Erlangen, Frankfurt/Main, Freiburg, Giessen, Heidelberg, Mainz, Marburg)
  • share-it! (Dresden, Greifswald, Hamburg, Lübeck, Oldenburg)
  • SMITH (Aachen, Jena, Leipzig)

 

Interoperability and data protection: national steering committee coordinates cross-consortia activities

The national steering committee (NSG) is responsible for supporting and coordinating collaboration between consortia, for example with regard to data protection issues. A further key task is to ensure the interoperability of data integration centres and IT solutions. To this end, each consortium has two representatives on the NSG. The body’s work is governed by bylaws, which were recently agreed and approved by all parties. As a result, the NSG can now officially commence its activities.  

Additionally, a project has been initiated and funded to provide advice and assistance to the NSG. This is managed by TMF, Medizinischer Fakultätentag (MFT), and Verband der Universitätsklinika Deutschlands (VUD). “Our goal is to establish an infrastructure that allows data to be exchanged efficiently at a national level, despite the heterogeneity of the various partner organisations and consortia. To this end, all parties involved contribute their own experiences of developing a shared infrastructure for patient-oriented research,” explained Professor Michael Krawczak, Chairman of TMF’s Board of Directors.


Background:                                                   

MFT

Medizinischer Fakultätentag (MFT) is an association of German university medical faculties. It encompasses over 70 study programmes with approximately 93,000 students of health sciences, human medicine and dentistry.  
 

VUD

Verband der Universitätsklinika Deutschlands e.V.(VUD) represents 33 university hospitals in Germany. It seeks dialogue with political leaders and the general public with regard to medicine at universities. VUD member hospitals play a key role in Germany’s health system, offering excellent standards of care and cutting-edge research, and spearheading the introduction of new treatments.  
 

TMF

TMF is the umbrella organisation and exchange platform for cross-project, multi-site collaboration in medical research in Germany. Against this background, one of its focus areas is infrastructure. It offers a range of solutions and services with the aim of resolving organisational, legal/ethical and technological problems encountered in medical research.

  

Each consortium has two representatives on the National Steering Committee (NSG), which met for a kick-off meeting on 30 August 2016.
F.l.t.r. Prof. Dr. Ingo Autenrieth (Universität Tübingen), Prof. Dr. Oliver Kohlbacher (Universität Tübingen), Prof. Dr. Edgar Schömig (Uniklinik Köln), Dr. Matthias Kölbel (BMBF), Prof. Dr. Christoph Reiners (Universitätsklinik Würzburg), Prof. Dr. Till Acker (Universität Gießen/Marburg), Ralf Heyder (VUD), Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Fleig (Universitätsklinikum Leipzig),Prof. Dr. Markus Löffler (Universität Leipzig),Dr. Frank Wissing (MFT), Prof. Dr. Martin Dugas (Universität Münster), Prof. Dr. Ramin Yahyapour (Universität Göttingen), Prof. Dr. Michael Marschollek (Medizinische Hochschule Hannover), Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hoffmann (Universität Greifswald), Dr. Katrin Hahlen (PT DLR), Dr. René Eulenfeld (PtJ), Prof. Dr. Karl Max Einhäupl (Charité Berlin), Sebastian C. Semler (TMF), Prof. Dr. Hans-Ulrich Prokosch (Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg) 

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