NGFN, the outstanding program of the medical genome research strikes a balance

The scientists funded by the BMBF (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) in frame of the National Genome Research Network have supplied a compelling number of significant and internationally highly acknowledged contributions. Between 2001 and 2013, more than 5,200 publications, 280 of them in the most renowned journals, brought the results of this exceptional research into the global scientific community. NGFN progress report 2013

Each contribution constitutes a building block to our comprehension of the complex molecular interaction enabling through its smooth process our physical health. “A great number of the research results not only have led to an important increase in scientific knowledge and a better understanding of diseases, but today patients profit in quite a practical way from the medical application of these results” emphasizes Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka, Federal Minister of Education and Research.

Among the results of the NGFN new approaches in diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy are counted. Numerous biomarkers have been found and their function has been analyzed. These biomarkers and signatures composed thereof are central for the development of personalized medicine for example as part of the “Companion Diagnostics”. Many of them have yet influenced the treatment to the benefit of patients. More

The translation dynamics of NGFN research into clinical application is also evident in the implementation of various clinical trials, for example for the specific treatment of patients suffering from breast cancer, lung cancer, Neuroblastoma, and Morbus Crohn. More

Another NGFN achievement is the development of specific bioinformatics and statistics-based processes in order to utilize the data derived from high throughput analyses in the clinics as for the current generation of sequencing technologies.
In the NGFN, knowledge is attained in a process of technological development driven by scientific questions. Within the NGFN, innovative technology platforms have been set up, the German Mouse Clinic is of major importance, but also biobanks as Popgen and KORAgen are fundamental resources of the medical genome research. More

Furthermore, funding in frame of the NGFN has essentially contributed to the formation of 13 business units with a total of nearly hundred employees, ten of these companies being still active. More than 130 patents have been filed due to the NGFN support. The CompetenceCenter Technology Transfer (KTT) constituted an important link between research and industry and advised the participants with regard to all issues concerning patent law and business. More

For more than a decade, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research had supported the National Genome Research Network, providing over 600 million Euros. Without this long lasting support and professional attendance, such a successful cooperation of fundamental research and clinical application would not have been possible. The interdisciplinary collaboration at the highest stage has enabled NGFN scientists to hold key positions within international projects and to cooperate with scientific teams in more than 40 countries all over the world. The foresighted and sustainable support of the medical genome research by the BMBF has very effectively strengthened Germany as a scientific center. The outstanding scientific standard of NGFN had been continuously increased due to a unique process of scientific monitoring and coordination carried out with a great deal of commitment and excellent competence by an internal panel, the project committee in its capacity of executive committee of the NGFN. This panel is supported by the NGFN management office. Professor Dr. Annemarie Poustka may be remembered here, the visionary spokeswoman of the panel for many years, who died in 2008. The strategic development of the NGFN had been attended by an external panel (Advisory Board) of scientific experts from academia and industry.

The achievements of the NGFN have been presented to the public by a series of high-value information products; more than 60,000 print products have been distributed. Due to this intensive public relation, the NGFN has contributed to arouse public interest for the Medical Genome Research with first-hand knowledge and to make “acceptance based on knowledge” possible. It may be expected that the results of the NGFN funding will enrich the community in the long run in terms of outstanding publications.


Welcome to NGFN

The program of medical genome research is a large-scale biomedical research project which extends the national genome research net (NGFN) and will be funded by the federal ministry of education and research (BMBF) from 2008-2013. Currently the program includes two fields:

NGFN-Plus: With the aim on combating diseases that are central to health policy, several hundred researchers are systematically investigating the complex molecular interactions of the human body. They are organized in 26 Integrated Genome Research Networks.
NGFN-Transfer: The rapid transfer of results from medical genome research into medical and industrial application is the aim of the scientists from research institutes and biomedical enterprises that cooperate in eight Innovation Alliances.

New function of the FTO gene: How Adipocytes increase energy expenditure

The team of NGFN scientists Professor Dr. Wabitsch and Dr. Daniel Tews from the University of Ulm demonstrated for the first time a crucial function of the FTO gene (fat mass and obesity-associated gene). Variants in the FTO gene are known to have a strong impact on body weight. The scientists detected that mice lacking the FTO gene develop adipocytes with increased cellular respiration, thus transforming fat tissue into thermal energy.


Scientists from Kiel and Berlin Identify New Genetic Risk Loci for Atopic Dermatitis

In collaboration with researchers from England, Ireland and Switzerland as well as the U.S., Japan and China, scientists in Kiel and Berlin have identified variants in four gene regions which strongly increase the risk for atopic dermatitis. The results of the study conducted by the Department of Dermatology, Venerology and Allergology, the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB) of the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Campus Kiel, Kiel University (CAU), the Cluster of Excellence Inflammation at Interfaces, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, and the Department of Pediatric Allergology of the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) of the Charité and the MDC have now been published in the journal Nature Genetics. more
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