German Center for Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine enters the start-up phase as the new German Center for Health Research


The German Center for Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine (DZKJ) will become a new partner of the German Centers for Health Research (DZG) from June 1, 2024. This expands the number of DZG centers to eight. The aim of the German Centers for Health Research is to combat particularly common diseases - the widespread diseases - more effectively. The DZG were established on the initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The nationally organized and networked research center will receive 30 million euros in funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research during the two-year start-up phase. The DZKJ office will be located at the University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG). The aim of the Göttingen partner site is to develop personalized medicine specifically for children and adolescents with neurological and developmental diseases.

Childhood and adolescence are key developmental phases in which the fundamental course for lifelong health is set. Another German Center for Health Research has been established to ensure the best possible disease detection and treatment as well as comprehensive care according to the latest state of research during this time.

Seven partner sites: Berlin, Göttingen, Greifswald/Rostock, Hamburg, Leipzig/Dresden, Munich and Ulm

The future German Center for Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine (DZKJ) pools the specialist expertise of university hospitals and universities at seven partner locations: Berlin, Göttingen, Greifswald/Rostock, Hamburg, Leipzig/Dresden, Munich and Ulm. Experts from various fields of research work together here on a cross-thematic basis.

In addition to university hospitals and universities, non-university research institutions such as Max Planck Institutes, Fraunhofer Institutes, Helmholtz and Leibniz Centers are also involved. After the start-up phase, long-term institutional funding is to follow.

Prof. Dr. Jutta Gärtner, Göttingen, spokesperson for the DZKJ and Director of the Department of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine at the University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG), explains the mission of the new center: “Paediatric and adolescent medicine encompasses the entire complex spectrum of diseases of the developing organism. Cross-organ disease mechanisms and treatment approaches play a central role in this. Thanks to the close collaboration between the experts at the DZKJ, the latest research findings will benefit young patients directly and promptly."

Cross-site platforms and DZKJ Academy

The interdisciplinary research covers a broad spectrum from rare genetic diseases, immunity, inflammation, infection, development of the central nervous system and neurological diseases, obesity, early determinants of health and disease, psychosocial and mental health to community medicine.

Platforms for clinical studies, research data management and new biotechnological methods, for example omics technologies, gene and cell therapies, will be established across all locations. A joint platform will promote cooperation with the German Center for Mental Health (DZPG), which is also being established.

The establishment of a DZKJ-wide patient and test subject cohort and the preparation of joint clinical studies and biobanks are important cross-sectional activities. The promotion of young scientists is of particular importance. Special training and mentoring programs will be developed as part of an overarching DZKJ Academy.

Affected people get involved in research

Children and adolescents as well as their parents are involved in research activities and the organization of the center from the very beginning. A particular focus is on empowering patients to become directly involved in the planning and implementation of research projects. Parent representative Anja Bratke and patient representative Stephan Kruip say: “We see an opportunity for both the research projects and the children and their parents to benefit from this new type of patient involvement. Children and adolescents are often already little experts when it comes to their own illness. Involving them and their parents in the newly founded DZKJ in such an innovative way is a major step towards strengthening patients' rights."

The DZKJ will make an important contribution to international cutting-edge research in the field of pediatric and adolescent medicine through interdisciplinary and innovative research. The aim is to ensure that children and adolescents in Germany receive optimal, state-of-the-art disease detection and treatment at all stages of their development.

Source: Joint press release of the University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the German Center for Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine (DZKJ)

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Directors of the selected DZKJ partner sites (from left to right): Prof Dr Klaus-Michael Debatin (Ulm and deputy spokesperson DZKJ), Prof Dr Neeltje van den Berg (Greifswald/Rostock), Prof Dr Antje Körner (Leipzig/Dresden), Prof Dr Christoph Klein (Munich), Prof Dr Ania Muntau (Hamburg), Prof Dr Marcus Mall (Berlin), Prof Dr Jutta Gärtner (Goettingen and spokesperson DZKJ). | © UMG/Simone Schröder