In recent years, the Medical Faculty and the University Hospital Bonn have specifically established structures to support clinical research, industry collaborations as well as the translation of research results into practice, covering a wide range of applications from preclinical translation to clinical trials and support for spin-offs.

Pre-clinical Translation

Translation platform LIFE & BRAIN GmbH

LIFE & BRAIN GmbH22 provides the University Hospital Bonn with a preclinical translational center that is unique in this form in Germany. The idea of the company is to close the gap between university research and industry. To this end, translationally oriented academic teams and employees of LIFE & BRAIN GmbH work together under one roof with the aim of further developing innovative research results into marketable biomedical products and services, up to and including their own spin-off.

Interdisciplinary translational strands within the same organizational and infrastructure create a special dynamic in which young scientists can become entrepreneurially active without leaving their academic environment. Over the last few years, LIFE & BRAIN GmbH has developed into an internationally visible service provider in the fields of genomics, stem cell technology, transgenic animal models and neurocognition and has successfully incorporated start-ups from the Medical Faculty into its incubator space.

There are collaborations with numerous internationally visible pharmaceutical and biotech companies. A patent filed by LIFE & BRAIN GmbH on biologically active fusion proteins was successfully licensed in 2017. LIFE & BRAIN GmbH is broadly networked with academic institutes and clinics through numerous scientific collaborations and services. In flexible structures, LIFE & BRAIN GmbH provides a broad range of commercial and legal expertise, such as consulting and execution of patent applications and licensing.

Life & Brain
© Johann F. Saba / UKB
Medikamente im Regal
© Johann F. Saba / UKB

The Pharma Center of the University of Bonn

The Pharma-Center Bonn is hosted by both, the Medical Faculty and the Department of Pharmacy of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the University of Bonn. The Pharma-Center also provides a strategic link between basic biomedical research at the University of Bonn with non-university institutions (caesar, Max Planck Society, Helmholtz research centers) as well as with the pharmaceutical industry, with biotechnology companies (especially LIFE & BRAIN GmbH) and with the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM).

In addition, the aim is to improve cooperation with neighboring universities (ABCD university region, Aachen-Bonn-Cologne-Düsseldorf) and scientific collaboration with the Jülich Research Center, the MPI for Biology of Aging in Cologne and the Fraunhofer Institute in St. Augustin. The Pharma-Center researches therapeutic principles and develops innovative therapeutic approaches on this basis.

Clinical Translation

The Bonn Study Center

The Study Center Bonn (SZB)33 combines all study conducting clinics and institutes of the University Hospital Bonn. It consists of the clinical study centers of the clinics, the study center, the phase I unit, the study nurse pool and administrative departments. The aim of the SZB is to conduct studies of high scientific and methodological quality in a GCP-compliant manner according to international quality standards. The medical director of the SZB (Dr. C. Coch) is chairman of the KKS board (Coordination Centers for Clinical Studies, nationwide network).

Commission for Clinical Studies

In 2015, the Dean's Commission for Clinical Studies was founded to support, professionalize and assure the quality of clinical studies. It advises the clinical study centers and the study center on structure and content and makes recommendations to the Dean's Council. The Clinical Studies Commission accepts applications for funding for clinical studies in the Medical Faculty's Clinical Studies Funding Instrument, which was established in 2016, and makes funding decisions with the involvement of external reviewers. Since May 2017, it has also been evaluating applications for internal start-up funding for innovative investigational and therapeutic procedures (IUTs) on behalf of the Dean's Council. For these kind of procedures no external funding is yet available.

Klinische Dokumentation während der Operation
© Johann F. Saba / UKB

Clinical-Translational Centers

Center for Rare Diseases Bonn

The ZSEB 5 focuses on selected groups of rare diseases for which clinical and scientific expertise exists in Bonn. In 14 special outpatient clinics of the UKB, experts from clinical and scientific fields work together on an interdisciplinary basis in the field of rare diseases. Together, they aim to develop an efficient and attractive range of care for specific groups of rare diseases. Existing research activities are to be coordinated and strengthened among each other. The ZSEB facilitates both the translation of basic research results into clinical research (translation) and the transfer of clinical research results into care (transfer). In a national pioneering role, the ZSEB, with the support of the Robert-Bosch-Foundation6, established an Interdisciplinary Competence Unit for Patients without a Diagnosis (InterPoD) in 2014, which has since been active for adult patients without a diagnosis. Since the end of 2018, InterPoDkids, the drop-in center for children without a diagnosis, has complemented the ZSEB's program for patients without a diagnosis thanks to funding from the ETL Foundation Kinderträume.

Innenbereich des BMZ
© Johann F. Saba / UKB
Zentrum für Integrative Medizin
© Johann F. Saba / UKB

Center for Integrated Oncology

The Center für Integated Oncology (CIO)77 Cologne Bonn of the German Cancer Aid8  combines highly qualified patient care with research and teaching to form a cancer center of national importance. CIO unites 44 clinics and institutes of the University Hospital Bonn involved in oncological care. Through the focus on hereditary tumor diseases, there are links to the research focus on Genetics and Epidemiology, through Immuno-oncology to the research focus on Immunosciences and Infection, and through Neuro-oncology to the research focus on Neurosciences.

In 2017, CIO Köln-Bonn was successfully recertified as an Oncology Center of Excellence by the German Cancer Aid Foundation. The four university hospitals of Aachen, Bonn, Cologne and Düsseldorf joined forces in a cooperation agreement signed in 2018, in which Aachen and Düsseldorf, in addition to Bonn and Cologne, laid down their merger and the basic features of their future collaboration (CIO ABCD). Since 2019, the newly founded CIO ABCD has also received funding as an Oncological Center of Excellence from the German Cancer Aid Foundation. To further promote young scientists and physicians, in 2018 the Cologne and Bonn sites together successfully established one of a total of five Mildred-Scheel-Junior Scientist Centers9 (MSSO - "Clonal co-evolution of cancer and immune cells: Tumor Genomics Meets Immunology"). The MSSO will provide young cancer researchers in Bonn and Cologne with €10 million for their research over the next five years.

Center for Translational Medicine

In the Center for Translational Medicine, new diagnostic and therapeutic procedures originating from basic research are to be investigated and clinically validated for concrete clinical application. In addition, translational medicine includes the utilization of findings from basic research for disease prevention in healthy individuals.

The transfer of therapeutic and diagnostic approaches to special patient groups, such as elderly patients, children, newborns, but also gender medicine as a central field of translational medicine, requires in particular the cooperation between clinicians, researchers, and experienced regulators. Safety-relevant research topics on which little or no clinical research has been conducted to date (for example, special features of therapies in vulnerable patient populations) are, among other things, the statutory task of the new research department of the BfArM, which is integrated into the Center for Translational Medicine as part of the cooperation agreement between the University of Bonn and the BfArM.

The Center organizationally combines facilities of the UCB, the Medical Faculty and the BfArM and is at the same time open to all relevant specialized institutes and clinics working in the field of translational medicine.

Labor Felix Jansen
© Johann F. Saba / UKB
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