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BIH at Charité Newsletter
No 7/2021 | September Issue

Dear Readers,

Two new Johanna Quandt Professors took up their posts at the BIH on 1 September 2021. We warmly welcome them to the Institute – and tell you all about them in the current BIH Newsletter. We also have a very special new addition to the Board of Directors to announce: Dr. Michael Frieser is now our Administrative Director, succeeding Andrea Runow who is taking a well-deserved retirement after two and a half years of service. Dr. Frieser is joining us from the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, which as the national regulatory authority for biomedicines and vaccines is closely involved in areas highly relevant to personalized medicine. And Professor Langenberg’s team has created a BMI calculator that anyone can use to find out their risk of gaining weight – perfect for anyone sitting for endless hours in home office or taking part in one of the various “stay healthy” campaigns. Try it out yourself! We hope you enjoy reading the latest issue of our newsletter.

Your BIH Board of Directors,
Christopher Baum and Michael Frieser


Corona/COVID-19: Activities of the BIH

Children playing outside running between soap bubbles

Strong Antiviral Immunity Protects Children From Severe COVID-19

Children can also be infected with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, but have a substantially lower risk for developing severe COVID-19 disease compared to adults. A team of scientists from the BIH around Roland Eils and Irina Lehmann, from Charité, University of Leipzig Medical Center, and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg used single-cell analyses to determine what causes this difference. They were able to show that the child’s immune system is much more active in the upper airways than in adults, making it better armed to fight off the virus.

Read the press release
Read the publication

News From the BIH

 Porträt Michael Frieser

Michael Frieser is Named New Administrative Director of the BIH

On  24 June 2021, the BIH Governing Board confirmed Dr. Michael Frieser as the new Administrative Director of the BIH. He succeeds Andrea Runow, who has held the post since 1 January 2019, and is now retiring. The 56-year-old comes with more than 20 years of professional experience in science administration from the Paul Ehrlich Institute in Langen, where he was head of administration. He took up his position at the BIH on 1 September 2021. In his new role Michael Frieser will be in charge of all business and administrative operations at the BIH while, together with Professor Christopher Baum, Scientific Director and Chair of the BIH Board of Directors, also being responsible for management of the Institute. 

Read the press release
Record of the inauguration
Measuring tape against yellow background

Young Adults at Highest Risk of Weight Gain

More and more people worldwide are affected by obesity. This is of great clinical and public health relevance, as obesity is a major risk factor for a wide range of serious diseases, from heart attacks and diabetes to cancer and dementia. Using a large national cohort of patients with electronic data from the English healthcare system, scientists at the BIH around Claudia Langenberg and at University College in London have now found that young adults (18-24 years) are at the highest risk of becoming overweight or developing obesity in the next decade of their life compared to adults in any other age group, and obesity prevention policies should target this group.
The authors provide the public (for the first time) an BMI calculator to calculate their risk of weight change. Try it out yourself!

Read the press release
Read the publication
The authors provide a YouTube video explaining the findings
Human Genoms

Consortium Explores Effects of Genome Variants

The National Institutes of Health is providing approximately $185 million over five years to the newly launched Impact of Genomic Variation on Function (IGVF) consortium, initiated and funded by NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). NHGRI will fund 25 awards across 30 U.S. research sites. IGVF consortium investigators will work to understand how genomic variation alters human genome function, and how such variation influences human health and disease. One of the funded projects is being conducted by a research team co-led by Prof. Jay Shendure (University of Washington, Seattle), Prof. Nadav Ahituv (University of California, San Francisco) and Dr. Martin Kircher, head of the BIH Research Group “Computational Genome Biology”, at Charité. We are looking forward to the results!

Read more
view into a conference room

Looking for Historical Women Scientists for BIH Room Namings

In order to increase the visibility of women scientists and to honor their research achievements, we want to name not only BIH research buildings, but also individual seminar rooms and meeting areas after historical women scientists. Please feel free to suggest women scientists who made important contributions to the research areas of BIH, and who deserve more visibility. Please send your suggestions by e-mail unil 1 Ocober 2021 to
BIH at Charité Newsletter

Questionnaire for AI Developers

Researchers at the BIH and Charité have developed a survey together with partners from University Essen and Witten/Herdecke to investigate fairness in artificial intelligence (AI). The survey aims to target AI developers. We would appreciate you taking the time (< 5 min) to fill out the following survey until 20 September 2021.

To the questionnaire


Portrait of Kathrin de la Rosa

Kathrin de la Rosa Is Designing New Antibodies and Vaccines

Dr. Kathrin de la Rosa has been awarded the Johanna Quandt Professorship for Translational Immune Mechanisms at the BIH. De la Rosa is a trained biologist interested in the immune system in general and antibodies, B cells and vaccines in particular. De la Rosa has been chosen to receive one of four new Johanna Quandt Professorships, which Stiftung Charité established and funded this year at the BIH as part of its Johanna Quandt Private Excellence Initiative. This is the second time that Stiftung Charité and the BIH have held an international open-topic call for Johanna Quandt Professorships. De la Rosa began her work at the BIH on 1 September 2021. She will keep her lab at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC).

Read the press release
Porträt Sarah Hedtrich

Sarah Hedtrich Is Building Organ Models From Human Cells

Professor Sarah Hedtrich has been awarded the Johanna Quandt Professorship for Translational Human Organ Models at the BIH. Hedtrich, who holds a PhD in pharmacology, is particularly interested in rare hereditary and inflammatory diseases of the skin and lung. To investigate these diseases and develop new treatment options, she is working to create human organ models. Hedtrich has been chosen to receive one of four new Johanna Quandt Professorships, which Stiftung Charité established and funded this year at the BIH as part of its Johanna Quandt Private Excellence Initiative. This is the second time that Stiftung Charité and the BIH have held an international open-topic call for Johanna Quandt Professorships. Hedtrich was most recently Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She started her work at the BIH on 1 September 2021.

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

Trilateral Sounding Board for the Joint Research Area Established

The Extended Steering Committee, the overarching decision-making body of the three partners BIH, Charité and MDC for steering the collaborations in the Joint Research Area, decided in its first meeting on 3 September 2021 to establish a trilateral Sounding Board. The central functions of the board are leveraging networking in the Joint Research Area and advising the Extended Steering Committee on scientific-strategic topics relating to the Joint Research Area. In the future, the speakers of the steering committees of the translational hubs and the focus area committees will be represented in the board, as well as one member each of the Extended Board of Directors of BIH (still to be established), the Research Commission of Charité and the Scientific Advisory Board of MDC. The Extended Steering Committee is composed of the Chair of the Board of Directors of the BIH/Chief Translational Research Officer of Charité (Christopher Baum), the Administrative Director of the BIH (Michael Frieser), the Scientific Director of MDC (Thomas Sommer), the Administrative Director of MDC (Heike Graßmann) and currently the Dean of Charité (Axel R. Pries) and the Faculty Business Director of Charité (Anne Großkopff).   

Read more (in German only)

News From the BIH Biomedical Innovation Academy (BIA)

Logos BIA and GAIN

BIH Biomedical Innovation Academy Participates in the Virtual GAIN 2021

Since 2016, the BIH Biomedical Innovation Academy (BIA) has actively participated in the GAIN annual conference (German Academic International Network). Due to current circumstances, this year's GAIN conference from 25–27 August 2021 took place virtually for the second time. Dr. Nathalie Huber and Dr. Iwan Meij represented BIH with a booth at the "Talent Fair" and held (video)chats with promising applicants for BIA funding programs and provided general information about the BIH.

Read more abotu the GAIN
BIH at Charité Newsletter

Former BIH PhD Student David Willnow Publishes in Nature

David Willnow from the group of Professor Francesca Spagnoli, Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, King's College London, London, UK, has published the article "Quantitative lineage analysis identifies a hepato-pancreato-biliary progenitor niche" in the journal Nature. David Willnow is an alumnus of the BIH translational PhD program, a former BIA funding line.

Read more
Read the publication

News From the BIH QUEST Center

Logo BIH QUEST CENTER and Logo Einstein Center 3R

BIH QUEST Center Supports Einstein Center 3R

The partners of the newly founded Einstein Center 3R (EC3R) are developing 3D tissue culture models with the long-term goal to reduce and replace animal experiments. The 6R cross-sectional project lead by the BIH QUEST Center will extend the 3R focus (replace, reduce, refine) by additional 3Rs (robustness, registration, reporting). Ulf Tölch, Daniel Strech and Maren Hülsemann are going to work closely with the researchers to establish the 6R approach in this innovative field of organ model research. Ulrich Dirnagl will represent the BIH in the EC3R steering committee.

Read more
More infos about Einstein Center 3R
BIH at Charité Newsletter
Portrait Tracey Weissgerber

New Research Group Meta Research and Automated Screening

Dr. Weissgerber’s group uses meta-research to identify opportunities to improve data visualization, statistics, transparency and reproducibility in scientific publications. They also develop automated screening tools that provide customized feedback to help authors to improve reporting. Dr. Weissgerber, PhD, teaches hands-on courses in meta-research and reproducible research skills.
Porträt Ulf Tölch

New Research Group Systemic Perspectives in Translational Biomedicine

The newly established research group Systemic Perspectives in Translational Biomedicine studies how preclinical research can succeed in its role to promote translation into clinical contexts. For this, the group combines approaches from quality management, biometry, and meta research and applies them to current preclinical research projects within and beyond the BIH. PD Dr. Ulf Toelch serves as head of the group.

BIH Paper of the Month

Screenshot of the online awarding

What Can Hackathons Do About the Covid-19 Pandemic?

In the Paper of the Month for February 2021, the authors led by Dr. Katharina Braune, a participant in the Charité BIH Digital Clinician Scientist Program (DCSP), and Dr. Akira Sebastian Poncette, describe the new "online Health Hackathon" format, in which representatives of different disciplines meet in a virtual space to solve a challenge from the health field with digital help. In the current case, it was – of course – about problems arising in connection with COVID-19.

Read more
Read the publication

Event Review

Porträt Claudia Langenberg

From Molecules to Medical Records

On 10 September 2021, we welcomed Professor Claudia Langenberg, BIH Professor of Computational Medicine, as speaker of our Online BIH Lecture Series "Frontiers in Translational Medicine - Scientific and Structural Challenges”. Together with her team, she combines genomic with metabolomic and proteomic data to define the genetic architecture of thousands of ‘omic’ traits and integrate data from different platforms and studies to maximize power for the identification of genetic variants associated with life-long differences in metabolite and protein levels and enable investigation of their relevance for disease aetiology and prediction. While giving insights from large-scale, multi-omic studies, she spoke about her work, its importance to translational medicine, and the related challenges.

Read more
A video of the talk will follow shortly here.
view into the conference room of the BIH Faculty

BIH Faculty Retreat 2021

On 18 and 19 August 2021, the BIH Faculty Retreat took place: For the first time in a long time, scientists from BIH, Charité and MDC were able to exchange ideas and discuss the future of BIH. Via livestream, all members of BIH had the opportunity to be present and participate in the discussions. The BIH Faculty Retreat 2021 was thus an important step on the way to the Research Strategy 2022-2026. On the first day, the Centers, Hubs and Focus Areas were able to present their work to colleagues. On the second day, the joint work on the design of the research program "Science of Translation: For Prediction, Prevention and Patient Benefit" (working title) for the coming years was on the agenda. The BIH Faculty Retreat 2021 was supported by the Stiftung Charité.

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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.

Open Calls

Logo BIH Academy

BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Programs Pilot New (Pre)Selection Procedure

With the aim of motivating the best innovative colleagues for a (Junior) (Digital) Clinician Scientist application, a new (pre)selection procedure is being piloted with the 2021-II Call. This provides for the selection of fellows in separate "funding lines" for women and men. Each funding line contains half of the places. The selection is made according to defined quality criteria and minimum standards. The deadline for all calls for applications is 30 September 2021.

Read the calls
Pipette in Petri dish

Save the Date BIH Digital Health Accelerator Program Call 2021/22

The BIH Digital Health Accelerator (DHA) Program Call 2021/22 will be open between 1 October and 1 November 2021, 12 pm CET. This founding instrument offered by BIH Digital Labs is inviting every person employed at the BIH or Charité to apply that would like to develop a solution in the digital health area. Accompanying this year's call Digital Labs offers during September information sessions on schedule and content of the program, as well as preparatory workshops to help you sharpen your ideas. For more information on the dates and content of the workshops click here.

New Faces at the BIH

Team Campus Development, Space Allocation and Onboarding

Stephanie Fürl

Since mid-June 2021, Stephanie Fürl has been supporting the team Campus Development, Space Allocation and Onboarding of the Business Division Administration as Local Manager for the Käthe-Beutler-House. She completed her  training as Medical-technical Assistant (MTA) at the Lette-Verein in Berlin and studied Biology at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Before that, she worked in clinical research and at the
Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety in the National Reference Laboratory for Genetically Modified Organisms.
Porträt Stephanie Fürl
BIH at Charité Newsletter

Juliane Großkopf

Since mid-May 2021 Juliane Großkopf supports the junior research groups of the Single Cell Focus Area as team assistant. At the interface between BIH, Charité and MDC, she coordinates all administrative issues for the junior research groups. For this task, she brings in her many years of experience as an office manager in various industries.  

Portrait Juliane Großkopf
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