The Structure of the National Genome Research Network

In the National Genome Research Network in the Program of Medical Genome Research, researchers at more than 60 locations throughout Germany cooperate in interdisciplinary organized research consortia that connect universities, large research institutes, clinics, and small enterprises. Efficient utilization of research capacities on the highest scientific level and of the latest technologies allows the investigation of the molecular causes of diseases with a high incidence and special importance in health policy.
The  Network has two inter-coordinated focuses:

  • In NGFN-Plus, the scientists of 26 Integrated Genome Consortia are broadening the basic clinical understanding of the molecular biological and disease relevant processes of widespread diseases. Numerous projects were completed in 2011.

  • In NGFN-Transfer, research-based pharmaceutical companies, Universities and other research institutions closely collaborated in 8 Innovation Alliances in order to develop marked-relevant and transfer-suitable innovations. All NGFN Transfer projects will be completed in mid-2012.

The Integrated Genome Networks and the Innovation Alliances focus on different areas of disease:

  • Using functional genome analysis NGFN-scientists are tracing the causes of Diseases of the Nervous System. The spectrum ranges from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and migraine to addiction diseases.
  • Scientists working in the disease area Cancer  investigate which alterations in the genetic material and in the control systems of the cells play a role in cancer diseases for example in breast, prostate, colon or pancreas.
  • In another genome network the human organism is being investigated as to how it reacts to infections with different pathogens like for example malaria or to inflammation.
  • In the genome network on Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases scientists are searching for the molecular causes of high blood pressure, heart insufficiency, heart rhythm disorders, heart malformations as well as Adipositas.
  • In the genome network on Diseases Due to Environmental Factors scientists are investigating inflammatory diseases which are caused by the coincidence of genetic mutations and certain environmental influences, like Psoriasis or Morbus Crohn.

Structure of the National Genome Research Network

The research on complex diseases is only possible when not only single genes but rather hundreds of genes and proteins and their variations of thousands of persons are systematically investigated. In order to conduct such research at justifiable costs and in a reasonable timespan, in addition to close cooperation scientists of NGFN-Plus and NGFN-Transfer are dependent on sophisticated, high-throughput technology and appropriate data processing.In the National Genome Research Network highly specialized experts apply these technologies and constantly develop them further.

Hundreds of scientists are working together in the NGFN in more than 300 subprojects. For an effective cooperation the internal and the external steering boards of the network are essential. One excellence of the NGFN is the scientific monitoring and coordination by an internal panel, the project committee. This panel is supported by the NGFN management office. An external advisory board for Science and Technology Transfer gives advice for strategical development of the program and its structures to the BMBF. The CompetenceCenter technology transfer (KTT) is an important link between research and enterprises and advises all participants with regard to all issues concerning patent law and business.

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