Communications and Marketing

Founding ceremony of the DKFZ–Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim

No. 37 | 31/07/2019 | by Koh

At a ceremony held on July 31, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the Medical Faculty Mannheim of Heidelberg University, and Mannheim University Hospital set up a new cooperation project: At the new DKFZ–Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim, DKFZ and the University Medical Center Mannheim (UMM) aim to conduct patient-focused translational cancer research at the highest international level. Over the next ten years, the Hector Foundation II is providing 25 million euros for the long-term partnership.

Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Hennes, Medizinischer Geschäftsführer und Ärztlicher Direktor des Universitätsklinikums Mannheim, Prof. Dr. Josef Puchta, Kaufmännischer Vorstand des DKFZ, Dr. Peter Kurz, Oberbürgermeister der Stadt Mannheim, Prof. Dr. Michael Baumann, Vorstandsvorsitzender des DKFZ, Manne Lucha, Sozial- und Integrationsminister Baden-Württemberg, der SAP-Mitbegründer und Stifter Dr. h.c. Hans-Werner Hector, Prof. Dr. Wolf-Karsten Hofmann, Sprecher des Interdisziplinären Tumorzentrums Mannheim und Direktor der III. Medizinischen Universitätsklinik in Mannheim, Thomas Rachel, Parlamentarischer Staatssekretär im Bundesforschungsministerium, Prof. Dr. Sergij Goerdt, Dekan der Medizinischen Fakultät Mannheim der Universität Heidelberg (from left to right)
© Carina Kircher, DKFZ

The priority of the DKFZ–Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim will be to take findings from research at DKFZ and the Medical Faculty Mannheim and test them in innovative clinical studies with a scientific focus. The aim is to promote collaboration between cancer researchers and oncologists to accelerate the transfer of results from top-level research into patient care and to make findings from everyday clinical practice available for cancer research.

To do so, the three partners will contribute their areas of competence in the field of cancer research and oncology to the partnership in order to set up an institution in Mannheim that is exemplary for Germany and is highly visible both nationally and internationally.

The DKFZ–Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim is funded by DKFZ, one of the world's most prestigious cancer research centers, which provides the necessary academic environment to conduct translational clinical research at top international level. As a center of university medicine, UMM offers multidisciplinary oncological patient care, research, and teaching of the very highest standard.

"Cancer is the second most common cause of death in Germany, and the number of new cancer patients will continue to increase throughout the world in the next few years. We hope that our foundation will help perform research into new treatment options and ensure that more cancer patients survive in future," explained SAP co-founder and donor Hans-Werner Hector.

The Hector Foundation II will provide 2.5 million euros a year for the new institute for the next ten years and also plans to provide long-term funding beyond that.

At the founding ceremony of the DKFZ–Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim on July 31, Thomas Rachel, Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), remarked: "We would like to see the latest research results from university hospitals and non-university research institutions rapidly reaching bedside care. Making new treatments and diagnostic procedures available quickly to patients across Germany is one of the most important goals of the National Decade Against Cancer, which was declared by the BMBF along with DKFZ and many other partners at the beginning of the year. The new DKFZ–Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim is another important milestone linking excellent research with multidisciplinary care in Germany even more effectively."

As Manne Lucha, Minister of Social Affairs and Integration of Baden-Württemberg, emphasized, "Today, patients in Baden-Württemberg already receive the best possible care, and that also means that the care we provide is always up to date with scientific progress. The new DKFZ–Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim will make a very important contribution to ensuring that patient care remains fit for the future and can be developed in an innovative way."

"The generosity of Hans-Werner Hector and his wife Josephine will enable a new, key focal point to be established in Mannheim for cancer research and treatment. The DKFZ–Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim will pool resources from cutting-edge research and top-level medicine, thus enabling new treatment approaches to be developed," explained Peter Kurz, Lord Mayor of the City of Mannheim, in his welcome address, thanking the founders for their many years of outstanding commitment to Mannheim and the region.

"Cancer centers with a strong research focus that achieve the critical mass of outstanding science and excellent patient care are drivers of innovation in clinical cancer research and oncology," remarked Michael Baumann, DKFZ Chairman, at the event. "DKFZ's strategy for the future therefore involves setting up strong centers for patient-focused cancer research such as these throughout Germany with selected partners in university medicine at a leading international level. We would like to thank Hans-Werner Hector and his wife Josephine for providing generous support to help achieve this goal in Mannheim."

As Sergij Goerdt, dean of the Medical Faculty Mannheim of Heidelberg University, commented, "To achieve tangible improvements for cancer patients, results from cancer research need to be verified in clinical studies as soon as possible – as the first step in translating results from the laboratory into patient care. The DKFZ–Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim will be an institution that advances this very aim: rapid knowledge transfer from high-profile research at DKFZ and UMM to benefit our patients."

As Hans-Jürgen Hennes, Executive Board member and Medical Director of Mannheim University Hospital, added, "The new institute will pool the existing priority areas at the University Medical Center Mannheim in cancer treatment and research and supplement them with DKFZ's internationally recognized know-how. We thus aim to give our patients even better access to innovative treatment studies and create a model institution that can attract ambitious researchers."

The DKFZ–Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim will be based around a translational study center soon to be set up that will take up the findings from basic and preclinical research in a targeted way and translate them into clinical trials (from bench to bedside). At the same time, in order to promote reverse translation, clinical data and biomaterials are to be made available systematically for preclinical and basic research.

In addition, two new internationally highly competitive working groups for young clinician scientists – doctors who work in patient care and also devote a significant proportion of their time to research projects – will be set up. The areas Translational Oncological Surgery and Translational Gastrointestinal Oncology have been planned for the initial appointments. The long-standing clinical cooperation units and the scientific units that link DKFZ and UMM will be attached to ensure that there is a substantial core of scientific research groups as soon as the institute is established. The DKFZ–Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim will initially be based in the premises of UMM.

The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with its more than 3,000 employees is the largest biomedical research institution in Germany. At DKFZ, more than 1,300 scientists investigate how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors and endeavor to find new strategies to prevent people from getting cancer. They develop novel approaches to make tumor diagnosis more precise and treatment of cancer patients more successful. DKFZ’s Cancer Information Service (KID) provides individual answers to all questions about cancer for patients, the general public, and health care professionals. Jointly with partners from Heidelberg University Hospital, DKFZ runs the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) located in Heidelberg and Dresden, and, also in Heidelberg, the Hopp Children’s Cancer Center (KiTZ). In the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK), one of six German Centers for Health Research, DKFZ maintains translational centers at seven university partnering sites. Combining excellent university hospitals with high-profile research at a Helmholtz Center at the NCT and DKTK sites is an important contribution to the endeavor of translating promising approaches from cancer research into the clinic in order to improve the chances of cancer patients. DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centers, with ninety percent of its funding coming from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the remaining ten percent from the State of Baden-Württemberg.

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