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New German-Greek initiative in cancer research launched

No. 64a | 08/12/2017 | by Koh

The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) has announced the start of a collaboration with the National Hellenic Research Foundation in order to establish the "Athens Comprehensive Cancer Center". The goal of the new center is to achieve direct improvements in health care for the Greek population. The DKFZ and the Helmholtz Association will support the project through an exchange of experts, consulting, and visiting stays of scientists. The support is also intended to strengthen research based in Europe.

from left to right.: Vasilis Gregoriou, Director of the National Hellenic Research Foundation; Otmar Wiestler, President of the Helmholtz Association; the President of Greece Prokopios Pavlopoulos; Josef Puchta, Administrative Director DKFZ

Representatives of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Helmholtz Association, jointly with members of the National Hellenic Research Foundation and high-ranking Greek politicians, celebrated the launch of a novel research collaboration in Athens on Friday, December 8, 2017. The DKFZ will support efforts to establish the Athens Comprehensive Cancer Center (ACCC) whose structure and tasks will be modeled closely after the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg.

"From our own experience that we gathered when establishing the NCT Heidelberg, Germany's first Comprehensive Cancer Center, we knew very well that the road to founding the ACCC would be long and winding," said Prof. Dr. Josef Puchta, DKFZ's Administrative Director, who has played a major role in advancing the project. "I am all the more pleased that, within only one year, we have managed to advance the idea to a point where we can now announce the official start of this promising collaboration."

An international expert panel had evaluated the project application on behalf of the Helmholtz Association and had rated it as excellent, thus giving the starting signal for the collaboration. Helmholtz will now provide funds of €750,000 from its Initiative and Networking Fund; the DKFZ will contribute an equal amount. Since Germany's financial laws do not allow a direct transfer of the funds, scientists and clinicians from Greece will be invited as visiting scientists to Heidelberg. At the same time, the DKFZ will send experts to Athens in order to assist in building management structures there.

"Research is an essential part of a Comprehensive Cancer Center and therefore our commitment at the ACCC is focused primarily on science," said Prof. Dr. Michael Baumann, DKFZ Chairman of the Board. "The next step now will be to launch research projects where DKFZ researchers work collaboratively with Greek colleagues. In addition, we will invest in the joint training of young scientists and researching oncologists."

The collaboration with the Hellenic Research Council is part of the DKFZ's and the Helmholtz Association's strategy towards internationalization. "The goal is to strengthen the European region as a research base and to prevent individual European countries from falling more and more behind", said Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Otmar D. Wiestler, President of the Helmholtz Association. "Supporting the ACCC is a contribution to securing Europe's top position in the international research competition." He continued: "However, the funds we provide are far from sufficient to accomplish building a whole Comprehensive Cancer Center. Therefore, our commitment is also a signal for other partners, such as from the private sector, or for the European Union to participate in this important venture."

The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with its more than 3,000 employees is the largest biomedical research institution in Germany. More than 1,300 scientists at the DKFZ investigate how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors and search for new strategies to prevent people from developing cancer. They are developing new methods to diagnose tumors more precisely and treat cancer patients more successfully. The DKFZ's Cancer Information Service (KID) provides patients, interested citizens and experts with individual answers to all questions on cancer.

Jointly with partners from the university hospitals, the DKFZ operates the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg and Dresden, and the Hopp Children's Cancer Center KiTZ in Heidelberg. In the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK), one of the six German Centers for Health Research, the DKFZ maintains translational centers at seven university partner locations. NCT and DKTK sites combine excellent university medicine with the high-profile research of the DKFZ. They contribute to the endeavor of transferring promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improving the chances of cancer patients.

The DKFZ is 90 percent financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.


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