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BIH at Charité Newsletter
No 1/2021 | FEbruary Issue

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the first edition of our newsletter this year! We have been in lockdown for two months now, and more weeks to come! During the lockdown, we want to create the best possible in solidarity with our society and also from the point of view of global health. At the same time, this is a difficult situation for all employees, especially for families with children in homeschooling and for our international colleagues who sit alone in the home office far away from home. Despite this ongoing challenge, our scientists have again published exciting results, organized interesting online conferences and received renowned awards. We look forward to new group leaders, the cooperation with the German stem cell network and our communications department has created a colorful review of the years of “BIH in Transition” 2018 to 2020.

The past few weeks have been overshadowed by the premature death of Professor Duska Dragun, the charismatic director of our BIH Biomedical Innovation Academy. We will miss her sorely and we will keep her an honorable memory.

With kind regards,
Your BIH Board of Directors
Christopher Baum and Andrea Runow
 

Personalia

Prof. Duska Dragun

We Deeply Mourn the Passing of Professor Duska Dragun

Professor Duska Dragun, director of both the Biomedical Innovation Academy (BIA) of the BIH and the Charité BIH Clinician Scientist Program, succumbed to a long and bravely endured illness on 28 December 2020. She was 51 years old. Until the very end, even from her hospital bed, Professor Dragun’s tireless efforts were directed toward her life’s work: the Charité BIH Clinician Scientist Program. Ten years ago, she launched the first Clinician Scientist Program in Berlin and over the decade established it as a best practice in the German-speaking world while overseeing its continuous expansion. For the BIH, Charité and the MDC the death of Professor Dragun is a tremendous and painful loss. A memorial page for Professor Dragun can be found here. We invite you to send your words and thoughts in memory of Duska Dragun to academy@bihealth.de by 28 February 2021. With your permission, your contributions will be published on the memorial page for Duska Dragun and bound together in a booklet for her parents, closest friends and relatives. In addition, a memorial symposium will be held in Professor Dragun's honor on 28 + 29 May 2021. If you have any questions regarding the book of condolence or the memorial symposium, please feel free to contact the comm. BIA Leadership (Dr. Nathalie Huber und Dr. Iwan Meij) or the personal assistant (Alke Freese).

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Prof. Christopher Baum

Executive Board Position for the Translational Research Unit of Charité

Professor Christopher Baum, Chairman of the BIH Board of Directors, has taken over the position of Chief Translational Research Officer at Charité as of 1 January 2020. The position was created in the course of the integration of the BIH into Charité. The molecular physician is thus responsible for the new third pillar "Translational Research Unit" of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

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Prof. Christian Conrad

Christian Conrad Receives BIH Professorship for Intelligent Imaging

Researchers today often do not look through the microscope themselves: With the vast number of cells, tissue sections and tumor samples, there is simply too much for the human eye to spot and record. It was for this reason that Christian Conrad introduced machine learning into the field of medical imaging early on. With the help of artificial intelligence (AI), thousands of samples and cells can now be automatically analyzed using high-throughput methods. In addition, the combination of microscopy, AI and new single-cell sequencing methods opens up entirely new possibilities for discovering the function of cells in their tissue context. At the beginning of the year, Christian Conrad assumed the BIH Professorship for Intelligent Imaging at the Digital Health Center of the BIH and Charité.

Read the press release
Das Bild zeigt die vier jungen Nachwuchsgruppenleiter*innen mit den Chairs des Single Cell Programms: Ashley Sanders, Angelika Eggert, Stefanie Grosswendt, Nikolaus Rajewsky, Leif Ludwig und Simon Haas (v.l.n.r.)

Four New Research Groups for the Single Cell Focus Area

A year ago, the BIH, the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB) of the MDC, and Charité launched the joint focus area “Single-Cell Approaches to Personalized Medicine.” Its aim is to use innovative single-cell technologies to answer clinical research questions. This aspiration will be put into practice by four new junior research groups, which have now begun their work. The picture shows the four young junior research group leaders with the chairs of the Single Cell Programme: Ashley Sanders, Angelika Eggert, Stefanie Grosswendt, Nikolaus Rajewsky, Leif Ludwig and Simon Haas (l.t.r.)

Read the press release
 

Prizes and Awards

Award ceremony with Ambassador Dr. Peter Blomeyer

Sibrand Poppema Receives German Order of Merit

The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany is the highest tribute Germany pays for services to the nation. Professor Sibrand Poppema, member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the BIH and President of Sunway University in Malaysia, has been awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit in recognition of his outstanding contribution to research and education relations between Germany and the Netherlands.

Read the press release
PD Dr. Anton Henssen

Lord of the Rings

Dr. Anton Henssen of the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC), a joint institution of the MDC and Charité has been awarded the Kind Philipp Award for Pediatric Oncology Research for his study of ring-shaped DNA and its significance in the development of childhood neuroblastoma. The award is presented each year to recognize the best work on pediatric cancer research by German-speaking authors. This time, the foundation gave the award to a study that was published in 2020 in the journal Nature Genetics.

Read the press release
Porträt Leif Ludwig

Leif Ludwig Receives Award

Dr. Leif S. Ludwig has received the Hector Research Career Development Award for his research into the DNA of “cellular power plants,” the mitochondria. The award supports particularly talented young scientists as they embark on the first steps of their research careers. Ludwig recently set up his junior research group in “Single-Cell Approaches to Personalized Medicine,” a joint focus area of the BIH, the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB) of the MDC and Charité.

Read the press release
 
BIH at Charité Newsletter

BIH in Transition: 2018-2020

From now on the German version of our report "BIH in Transition" is available for download in our BIH Mediathek. It covers the years 2018 to 2020, during which BIH has continued to develop in terms of structure and content. The report offers an insight into the diverse activities and exciting scientific findings that the BIH colleagues have gained during this time. We hope you enjoy reading it. If you would like to receive the report in printed form, please contact our newsletter team. Please indicate as subject: "Annual Report German version (resp. English version)" and let us know your postal address for mailing. Thank you very much. An English version of the report will follow shortly. We keep you updated.

Download of the German version
 

Corona/COVID-19: Activities of the BIH

BIH at Charité Newsletter

Strong Immune Response Explains Adverse Course of COVID-19

COVID-19 patients who also suffer from high blood pressure are more likely to fall severely ill with the disease, which also leaves them at greater risk of death. Scientists from the BIH and Charité around Irina Lehmann, Roland Eils, Ulf Landmesser and Christian Conrad, in collaboration with partners in Heidelberg and Leipzig, have now found that the immune cells of patients with hypertension are already pre-activated, and that this pre-activation is greatly enhanced under COVID-19. This most likely explains the augmented response of the immune system and the more severe disease progression. However, certain hypertension-reducing drugs known as ACE inhibitors can have a beneficial effect. They not only lower blood pressure, but also counteract immune hyperactivation. The scientists have now published their findings in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

Read the press release
Read the publication
 

News From the BIH

BIH at Charité Newsletter

Bladder Cancer – When to Use Chemotherapy

In patients with bladder cancer, chemotherapy effectiveness is partially determined by the body’s immune system response to the malignancy. An international team of researchers led by Dr. Michael Schmück-Henneresse, a scientist at the BIH Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT) as well as Charité’s Institute of Medical Immunology and the Berlin Center for Advanced Therapies (BeCAT), has discovered a way to differentiate between patients who will benefit from chemotherapy and those who will not. The findings, which have been published in Science Translational Medicine, can be used to predict treatment success and may increase survival in patients with bladder cancer.

Read the press release
Read the publication
Porträt Prof. Claudia Langenberg

Tiny Molecules With a Big Impact

The human organism requires a variety of small molecules, such as sugars or fats, in order to function properly. The composition of these so-called metabolites and their interaction – the metabolism – varies from person to person and is dependent not only on external influences, such as nutrition, but also to a significant extent on natural variations in our genetic make-up. In an international study, scientists from the BIH around Claudia Langenberg, BIH Professor for Computational Medici, and Charité  joined forces with colleagues from the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States and discovered hundreds of previously unknown variations in genes that have a sometimes drastic impact on the concentration of these small molecules in the blood. The researchers have now published their findings in the journal Nature Genetics.

Read the press release
Read the publication
To a lecture where Claudia Langenberg talks about her work
BIH at Charité Newsletter

Safeguarding Access to and Quality of Biosamples in Research

Biobanks play an important role in biomedical research. They ensure that human biospecimens meet uniform standards of quality and that both the samples and their associated data are easily accessible. Charité is home to the German Biobank Node (GBN), the umbrella organization for German biobanks, which was founded in 2017. Since its foundation, GBN has provided the auspices for the development of a powerful partnership comprising a total of 20 university biobanks: the German Biobank Alliance (GBA). Coordinated by GBN, the partners are harmonizing their quality management processes and developing a linked-up IT infrastructure. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will continue to support GBN’s work for a further three years, providing approximately 3.5 million euros in funding. Approximately 2.4 million euros of this money has been allocated to Charité, another 1.1 million euros to the partner sites in Heidelberg and Jena. From 2024, the German Biobank Node will become a permanent structure within the BIH.

Read the press release
BIH at Charité Newsletter
BIH at Charité Newsletter

"Popdel" Detects Deletions in Our Genomes

The human genome contains roughly three million letters. On average, the genome sequences of any two people differ from each other by about one in every 1,000 letters. Yet different variants occur, from substituted letters to entire missing sections of DNA. Scientists from the BIH around Birte Kehr, and the Regensburg Center for Interventional Immunology (RCI) have teamed up with Icelandic researchers to develop software that reliably and quickly identifies large deletions in ten-thousands of genomes simultaneously. The researchers have now published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Read the press release
BIH at Charité Newsletter
 
BIH at Charité Newsletter

Stem Cell Research for Medical Translation

From the beginning of 2021, the German Stem Cell Network (GSCN) and the BIH have entered into a close cooperation. The GSCN networks and promotes stem cell research in Germany with the aim of expanding basic research, accelerating the translation of research results into therapies and linking scientists from the various research fields. The GSCN and the BIH are now joining forces to advance translation with the help of stem cell technologies. For this purpose they founded the "Dialog Platform for Stem Cell Research", which will network and promote national and international stem cell research even more effectively.

Read the press release
 

News From the BIH Biomedical Innovation Academy

BIH at Charité Newsletter

Online Survey of the Program Evaluation Successfully Completed

After the completed qualitative and quantitative field study phase for the BIH Charité (Junior) Clinician Scientists and Alumni (2020), the online survey for the so-called “control group” of the program evaluation was successfully completed at the beginning of January 2021. This control group consisted of people, which are in their specialist training and are simoultaneously habilitating or have already habilitated at Charité. The empirical findings are contrasted with those from the BIH Charité (Junior) Clinician Scientist Program fellows and alumni. The aim is the optimization of the Clinician Scientist Programs for young academics.
 

News From the BIH QUEST Center

BIH at Charité Newsletter

Launch of German Reproducibility Network

Eight key Open Science actors in Germany founded the German Reproducibility Network (GRN). This cross-disciplinary consortium is dedicated to promote reproducible and robust research on a national level. The BIH QUEST Center is one of the founding members. The network is open for further members and offers various ways to participate.

Read the press release
BIH at Charité Newsletter
Logo BIH QUEST Center

Automated Screening of COVID-19 Preprints

Can we help authors to improve transparency and reproducibility? An international group, led by BIH QUEST researchers, has been using automated tools to screen bioRxiv and medRxiv COVID preprints for factors related to transparency and reproducibility. Public reports are posted in hypothes.is and tweeted via @SciScoreReports. See here the group´s correspondence in Nature Medicine to learn more. 
BIH at Charité Newsletter

Improving Preclinical Studies Through Replications

Ideally, preclinical research forms the basis for successful translation. Unfortunately, promising results often do not stand up to the test in clinical contexts raising questions how to improve the robustness of preclinical research. A group of researchers at the BIH QUEST Center describes one such approach recently published in the journal elife. Natascha Drude, postdoc at the BIH QUEST Center, and her co-authors point out systematic replications as a crucial element towards rigorous and robust findings. Improving internal, external and translational validity throughout preclinical research trajectories will strengthen preclinical findings and foster translational success.

Read the publication
BIH at Charité Newsletter
BIH at Charité Newsletter

Project on Research Data Management

Research data management (RDM) at Charité is being developed further since 1 February 2021 within a two-year project funded by the Berlin University Alliance (BUA). In this project Dr. Angela Ariza de Schellenberger, Research Assistant at the BIH QUEST Center, will conduct RDM needs assessments and develop RDM concepts in collaboration with Charité's Vice Dean of Research’s office. She will contribute own research experience in cell biology and radiology as well as knowledge of digital data management.

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News From BIH Innovations

Logos  SPARK Europe Education and BIH Innovations

Succesfull Start of Spark Europe Webinar Series

SPARK Europe has joint forces for education on translational research and technology transfer! For the first time, European SPARK sites are now hosting a joint SPARK Europe webinar series. The very first webinar took place on 19 January 2021 and was a success. Overall, 170 participants from seven European countries followed the live webinar.

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By the Way ...

BIH at Charité Newsletter

BIH is on Instagram Now!

Follow us and don't miss the latest news from the BIH! Do you have exciting topics that should be posted on the BIH Instagram channel? Then feel free to contact Michelle Tuong by email with a short message about your topic (max. 150 words, ideally with an English translation) and the image to be posted. We look forward to your input!

To the BIH Instagram account
 

Events

BIH at Charité 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

BIH at Charité Newsletter

Translate! 2021 - Metrics and Milestones of Success

The mission of the BIH is medical translation: How this often lengthy process can be improved and what experience has been gained worldwide was discussed by numerous experts at Translate! 2021 - Metrics and Milestones of Success. More than 1500 virtual participants from around 30 different countries followed the two-day online symposium organized by the BIH Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT) with partners Science Translational Medicine and the German Research Foundation (DFG). Live from the studio in Berlin-Mitte, 37 high-ranking speakers presented their visions and consensus processes on the topic of translation in medicine in panel discussions as well as expert rounds. Those who missed the event can watch the recording of the livestream on the BIH YouTube channel. The consensus papers and video lectures of all speakers will be available until the end of March here

To the BIH YouTube Channel – Livestream Day 1 | Livestream Day 2
Video Lectures and Consensus Papers – Login Translate! 2021
Portrait Mark Caulfield

Online-BIH Lecture with Sir Mark Caulfield

On 29 January 2021, Professor Sir Mark Caulfield MD FRCP FMedSci gave a great talk as part of our BIH Lecture Series “Frontiers in Translational Medicine – Scientific and Structural Challenges”. Professor Caulfield is Chief Scientist for Genomics England and Director of the NIHR Barts Biomedical Research Centre. In our Online BIH Lecture, he talked about the 100,000 Genomes Project, the exciting opportunities it offers researchers, and how it is advancing medical translation.

Recording of the BIH Lecture
BIH at Charité Newsletter

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

On 11 February 2021 BIH and MDC hosted a joint virtual event to discuss and examine what changes are needed to make science more diverse, equitable and inclusive. Participants from all over Germany and different European countries were invited to watch the documentary film “Picture a Scientist” about three women scientists and their experiences with institutional discrimination, gender bias and sexual harassment. About 300 people joined the inspiring keynotelecture by Professor Marieke van den Brink from Radboud University about an inclusive university and discussed with the panelists - four women scientists from the BIH, the MDC, the University of Sheffield (UK) and IDIBELL (Spain) - about the difficulties women face in the scientific system and how to overcome them. The virtual event ended with an interactive networking session and was a huge success.

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Open Calls

BIH at Charité Newsletter
BIH at Charité Newsletter

BIH Charité (Junior) (Digital) Clinician Scientist Program

The BIH Biomedical Innovation Academy (BIA) and the Medical Faculty of Charité have published their first calls this year for the renowned BIH Charité (Junior) Clincian Scientist Program this year. The program is a recognized, modern career path in academic medicine, which offers research-based clinicians a structured specialist training with defined space for clinical and basic research. In addition, the BIH Charité (Junior) Digital Clinician Scientist Program was announced for the third time. All calls were announced on 10 February 2021. The deadline for both programs is 18 March 2021.

Read more about the calls (only in German):
BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Program (CSP)
BIH Charité Junior Clinician Scientist Program (JCSP)
Charité Digital Clinician Scientist Program (DCSP)
BIH Charité Junior Digital Clinician Scientist Program (JDCSP)
BIH at Charité Newsletter
Logo Stiftung Charité

BIH Clinical Fellows 2021

Are you a senior physician at Charité and particularly committed to your clinic or institute? Are you looking for the freedom to deepen your scientific experience in patient care? And do you have a concrete idea that will help you in your medical work, for example, your own continuing education, a job shadowing or a project to communicate your clinical knowledge? Then apply in the new selection round of the Stiftung Charité! BIH Clinical Fellows can receive funding of up to 75,000.00 euros for a project that serves their own continuing education, knowledge exchange or knowledge transfer. Apply to the Stiftung Charité no later than 3 May, 2021 (11:59 p.m.). Stiftung Charité supports the BIH Clinical Fellows with funds from its Private Excellence Initiative Johanna Quandt.

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BIH at Charité Newsletter

BIH Visiting Professors

Your initiative as a host at Charité, the BIH or the M´DC is in demand. In the course of the new call for proposals, invite leading visiting scientists to collaborate and submit your application together with the potential BIH Visiting Professor to Stiftung Charité by 17 May, 2021 (11:59 p.m.) at the latest. The Charité Foundation supports BIH Visiting Professors with up to 15,000 euros per month. Stiftung Charité supports the BIH Clinical Fellows with funds from its Private Excellence Initiative Johanna Quandt.

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