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Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter
No 10/2020 | December Issue

Dear Readers,

What a year! The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a lot of things into disarray and has put the brakes on others, but it has also revealed some previously unimagined possibilities. BIH scientists have made outstanding scientific findings about the new SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 disease, the joint Outpatient, Translation and Innovation Center (Ambulanz-, Translations- und Innovationszentrum – ATIZ) of BIH and Charité celebrated its topping-out ceremony in July, the new mission of BIH was launched and the integration of the BIH into Charité has been prepared down to the last detail.

All in all it, 2020 has been an exciting and successful year for the Berlin Institute of Health. Now, we are looking forward to spending a few quiet days with friends and family before we start 2021 full of confidence and anticipation.

We wish all partners, friends and colleagues of the BIH a relaxing Christmas break and a good start to the New Year. Stay healthy!

Your Christopher Baum (Chief Executive Officer) and
Andrea Runow
(Chief Financial Officer, comm.)

News From the BIH

Portraits of Georg Duda and Hans-Dieter Volk

New Collaborative Research Center Dedicated to Bone Regeneration

Bone regeneration is seen as a model template for scarless healing. A new Collaborative Research Centre (SFB), entitled ‘Directed Cellular Self-Organisation for Advancing Bone Regeneration’ and led by Charité, will study which factors and mechanisms are important to allow a scarless regeneration and how they change as we age. Spokesperson of the new collaborative research center is Professor Georg N. Duda, who is Director of Charité’s Julius Wolff Institute for Biomechanics and Musculoskeletal Regeneration and BIH Chair for Engineering Regenerative Therapies. Deputy Spokesperson is Professor Hans-Dieter Volk, who is Director of the Institute of Medical Immunology and Spokesperson of the BIH Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT).

Read the press release
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter

The Human Helpers of SARS-CoV-2

Like all viruses, the novel coronavirus is dependent on help from the human host cell. Proteins are the functional units of the cell and enable the virus to enter the host cell or help the virus to replicate. Scientists around Claudia Langenberg, BIH Professor for Computational Medicine, Charité and the University of Cambridge, along with colleagues from the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States, have examined the corresponding genes of the helper proteins in a large study. They discovered numerous variants that influence the amount or function of the proteins as well as their ability to support the virus. The gene variants reveal potential target structures for new drugs. The researchers have now published their results in the journal Nature Communications.

Read the press release
Read the publication
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter
Logo Got-It

When Does It Make Sense to Develop a New Therapeutic Agent?

Pharma companies have long complained that findings from the laboratory are often not reproducible and that preclinical research does not provide a meaningful basis for developing new therapeutic agents. Scientists around Daniel Strech from the BIH QUEST Center along with colleagues from Charité  and the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME-TMP) in Frankfurt am Main and PAASP GmbH in Heidelberg, have compiled a catalogue of recommendations that set out the criteria that research must meet so that a substance that shows promise in the laboratory can actually be developed into a clinically effective drug. They have now published their recommendations for translation in the journal Nature Reviews Drug Discovery.

Read the press release
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Human Pancreas

An Atlas of the Human Pancreas

As part of an international project, scientists around Roland Eils from the BIH and Charité have genetically examined all cells of the human pancreas to determine their exact location within the organ and shed light on the relationships between individual cells. In doing so, they discovered previously unknown cell types that help to explain how this important organ functions and how pancreatic diseases develop. The project is part of the global Human Cell Atlas initiative, which aims to analyze all cells of the human body. The researchers have now published their results in the journal Gastroenterology.

Read the press release
Read the publication
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter
portaits BIH-Professors

Six BIH/Charité Scientists Among the Most Influential Researchers 

One percent of the world's most frequently cited researchers in 2020 include six outstanding scientists from the BIH and Charité: Professor Stefan Anker, Professor Andreas Diefenbach, Professor Christian Drosten, Dr. Martin Kircher, Professor Ulf Landmesser and Professor Burkert Pieske. This is the result of an analysis by the Web of Science Group, which was published in mid-November as a list of "Highly Cited Researchers". The researchers are thus considered to be particularly influential in their field. Congratulations!

Read more
To the list of the "Highly Citied Researchers" 2020
Portrait Alexander Meyer

Applying AI to Cardiovascular Medicine

Alexander Meyer of the German Heart Institute Berlin (DHZB), alumnus of the BIH Academy’s Clinician Scientist Program and BIH Digital Health Accelerator funding recipient, has been granted a W2 professorship in “Clinical Applications of AI and Data Science” at Charité.

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News From the BIH Academy

Logo BIH Academy

New Clinician Scientists on Board

In a highly competitive two-stage selection process, the new fellows for the BIH Charité (Junior) (Digital) Clinician Scientist Program were chosen. Due to the current situation, the selection colloquia for all funding programs were conducted digitally on 17 November 2020. In total, seven candidates qualified for the BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Program (CSP) and eight candidates for the BIH Charité Junior Clinician Scientist Program (JCSP). In addition, two candidates were accepted for the Digital Clinician Scientist Program (DCSP). The new cohorts will begin funding on 1 January 2021. For all new fellows, a warm welcome aboard!

Read more about the BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Program
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter
Portrait Simon Gräber

Personalized Medicine to Treat Cystic Fibrosis

Dr. Simon Gräber, Fellow of the BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Program and assistant physician in the Division of Pulmonology, Immunology and Critical Care Medicine in Charité’s Department of Pediatrics, is the 2020 Christiane Herzog Award Winner of the Christiane Herzog Foundation. With the prize money of 50,000 euros, Gräber will establish a care and research infrastructure at Charité to study cystic fibrosis patients with rare mutations. His aim is to find an effective therapy for these patients as well. In his project, Gräber, who conducts research at the Christiane Herzog Center at Charité, plans to examine a total of 50 cystic fibrosis patients with rare mutations. Congratulations to this award!

Read the press release
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter
Portrait Ludwig Schlemm

Artificial Intelligence for Detecting Strokes During Sleep

At the seventh research idea competition “Forum Junge Spitzenforscher”, organized by Stiftung Industrieforschung and Humboldt-Innovation, the team of Dr. Ludwig Schlemm, a neurology specialist and research assistant at the Department of Neurology of Charité and a participant in the BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Program, took first place. The team is planning the development of an AI-based method for the early detection of strokes during sleep. The competition is geared toward outstanding young researchers in Berlin whose practice-oriented AI ideas emerge from their innovative basic research. The award comes with prize money of 10,000 euros. We congratulate to this award!

Read the press release
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter
Portrait Steffen Fuchs

Junior Scientist Award for Clinician Scientist

The BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Dr. med. Steffen Fuchs from the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Oncology and Hematlogy was awarded by the German Society for Pediatric Oncology and Hematology (GPOH) for his project "Defining the landscape of circular RNAs in neuroblastoma reveals an oncogenic function for a circRNA derived from the ARID1Atumor suppressor gene". The prize is endowed with 1,000 euros and is donated by the Children's Cancer Foundation. Congratulations!

News From the BIH QUEST Center

Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter

CAMARADES Project Funded by the Stifterverband

With its anniversary initiative "Wirkung hoch 100", the Stifterverband promotes Germany's best 100 ideas and projects for the education, science and innovation system of tomorrow. By networking the projects with one another, providing comprehensive support and needs-oriented funding, the selected projects will be enabled to achieve their self-imposed goals and develop their transformation potential. The CAMARADES Berlin team was successful with its application ‘Brückenschlag zwischen Forschern: Transformation biomedizinischer Forschung mittels Evidenzsynthese’ and will receive a grant of 10,000 euros. Congratulations!

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News from BIH Innovations

Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter

Charité Spin-off is Getting Ready for Launch

Dr. Panagiotis Fikatas, Senior Surgeon at Charité invented a surgical device using a knot technology for minimally invasive surgery. Clouz GmbH, founded by Dr. Panagiotis Fikatas, Marco Climaco and Anne-Mette Jensen, has signed a purchasing agreement for the knot patent with the Charité Technology Transfer Office. The first products for clinical use are expected to be available in 2021. Early prototyping and development work was significantly supported by the SPARK-BIH program with the Validation Fund and funds from the Stiftung Charité.

Read more
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter

FACES Portrait with Ursula Wilkenshoff

Dr. Ursula Wilkenshoff has been in charge of echocardiography at the Benjamin Franklin Campus of Charité for more than ten years. In addition to her clinical activity, the experienced senior physician is supported by the Stiftung Charité as a BIH Clinical Fellow . She has been tracking the difference between male and female hearts for many years. In September 2020, Stiftung Charité visited Dr. Wilkenshoff at her workplace in the clinic to talk to her not only about her project, but also about her personal experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the FACES portrait with Ursula Wilkenshoff

BIH Paper of the Month

New Software Detects Disease-Causing Gene Mutations

In April 2020 Dr. Dieter Beule received the award Paper of the Month. He ist Head of the BIH Bioinformatics Core Unit. Together wih his team colleagues and with colleagues from Charité and MDC he developed a develop the software "VarFish" to detect disease-causing gene mutations.

Read the press release
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Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter

Due to the current situation regarding Sars-CoV-2/COVID-19 almost all BIH events will be implemented by using online tools, as noted in the event calender

If you would like to receive a regular overview of upcoming BIH Events, please register here. Many thanks.

Event Review

Portrait Jürgen A. Knoblich

Online-BIH Lecture with Jürgen A. Knoblich

On 27 November 2020, Jürgen A. Knoblich gave a talk at the BIH Lecture Series, this time in cooperation with the German Stem Cell Network (GSCN). He is Senior Scientist and Scientific Director of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA). With his research group he is investigating "miniature brains", so-called cerebral organoids grown from human stem cells in the laboratory. The aim ist to recapitulate diseases of the human brain in vitro and to test risk factors. Cerebral organoids derived from patients suffering from a neurological developmental disorder can recapitulate the developmental defects leading to these diseases.

Recording of the BIH Lecture
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter
The German Stem Cell Network (GSCN), which will be fully part of the BIH as of 1 January 2021, has published the White Paper 'Organoide - from stem cells to future technologies’ together with the Interdisciplinary  Research Group (IAG) Gene Technology Report of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) and the BIH. The White Paper is intended to raise public awareness of this research field and stimulate an interdisciplinary public debate on organoids.

Read the White Paper
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter
By the way, you can find all our BIH Lectures and many more interesting videos about our BIH activities on our YouTube channel.

To the BIH YouTube channel

Open Calls

Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter

Einstein Foundation Award for Promoting Quality in Research

The Einstein Foundation Berlin has announced an international award to provide publicity for researchers and institutions seeking to improve the quality of research. The 500,000 euros Einstein Award for Promoting Quality in Research will honor researchers and institutions whose work helps to advance the quality and robustness of research findings. The award – the first of its kind – is funded by the Damp Stiftung, with Nature Research supporting the call for entries and helping to establish the award. The first awardees will be announced in November 2021 in Berlin. The award office is headed by Ulrich Dirnagl, BIH Chair and Founding Director of the BIH QUEST Center.

Read more about the call
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter

Challenge@Translate! – Call for Pitches

Do you have an exciting translation success story to tell? Have you succeeded in translating your idea into a medical product, perhaps one that has already benefitted patients? We offer the stage for sharing your successful translation story in a 90-second video pitch during the Translate! 2021 – Metrics and Milestones of Success – the Online Symposium on Translation in Medicine on 25 – 26 January 2021.

The symposium is organized by the BIH Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT) together with the partners Science Translational Medicine and the German Research Foundation, the DFG – Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. A Jury will choose the five best pitches to be displayed on the Translate! 2021 website. The winner of the best biomedical translational pitch will receive a prize with a value of 1,000 euros! 

Apply now! Deadline is 3 January 2021.

To the call for pitches

New Faces at the BIH

Team BIH Innovations

Anette Ströh

Anette Ströh has joined the BIH Innovations Digital Labs team as Project Manager Digital Health Scouting and Development in December 2020. The studied product designer supports project teams funded by the BIH Digital Health Accelerator in prototype and product development. In addition, she works with employees of the BIH, Charité and the MDC, and joints with patients, to develop new concepts in the field of digital health.
Portrait Anette Ströh
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter

Laura Fouquette

Laura Fouquette joined the BIH Digital Health Accelerator as the Program Assistant in October 2020.  After completing her Master of Public Health in Epidemiology/Biostatistics at the University of California - Berkeley, she moved to Berlin to work for Bayer G4A Digital Health. Then, Laura worked as a writer-researcher at Cara Care, a digestive health startup in Berlin.
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter

Dr. Cyril Cheret

Dr. Cyril Cheret has been working as Data Management coordinator at the BIH Acadamy since November 2020. He obtained his PhD in biology at the Pitié-Salpétrière Hospital in Paris. He then moved to Berlin to pursue his studies in the field of neurobiology within the MDC, and later in Charité Mitte. Within the BIH Academy, he now develops new methods to promote talent scouting and evaluate the impact of the Clinician Scientist Programs on translational biomedical research through the analysis of attendees’ track record.

Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter

New BIH Staff Council Elected

On 7 December 2020, a new BIH Staff Council has been elected. In the future, Kati Jegzentis, Christian Hirsch, Ljudmila Borisenko, David Jacobi and Philipp Novian will represent the interests of BIH employees vis-à-vis the BIH department.
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter
Berlin Institute of Health Newsletter

Election of the BIH Women's Representative and Her Deputy

Also on 7 December 2020, the BIH Women's Representative and her deputy were elected. In the future, Karin Höhne and Dorothée Marie-Louise Döpfer (deputy) will be the contact persons to BIH female employees for questions such as regarding issues of equal opportunities for women at BIH and the reconciliation of family and career. Karin Höhne will also be the decentralized Women's and Equal Opportunity Officer for the BIH from 1 January 2021.
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