Helmholtz Association
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Data protection in research

Individual rights need to be respected whenever personal data is collected for research purposes. Every individual has the right to decide how his or her personal data are used. 

Many branches of science study people. Health researchers, for example, collect vast amounts of personal data and use them as the basis of scientific studies such as statistical evaluations. In doing so, researchers are encroaching upon personal rights that are protected by the German constitution (Art. 2 Par. 1 and Art. 1 Par. 1).

Everyone who collects personal data for scientific purposes has a duty to find the best possible balance between protecting individual rights and maintaining the freedom of science, research and teaching. Data protection acts at the federal and state level establish guidelines for this. Institutions also handle the sensitive personal data of the researchers they employ. 

Working group of data protection commissioners at non-university research institutions 

Data protection commissioners are responsible for raising awareness of data protection among research institutions and their employees, working to ensure adherence to applicable laws and monitoring compliance with those laws. They also provide information on the subject of data protection and advise researchers on how to collect personal data in accordance with regulations. Institutions have a vested interest in respecting the trust of those who participate in their studies and provide personal data, often voluntarily and at no cost, by ensuring that such data are treated with the utmost care. 

The Helmholtz Association is committed to promoting data protection in the research community and so it has joined up with the Max Planck Society, the Leibniz Association, the Fraunhofer Society and the German Research Foundation to form a working group of data protection commissioners.

The working group will includes the data protection commissioners of all of the Helmholtz Association’s seventeen research centres.

By bringing together data protection commissioners with backgrounds in law, business, IT and auditing, the working group is well equipped to tackle data protection issues from all angles. 

The current head of the working group is Dr. Karen Altermann of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ). 

The semi-annual meetings of the working group will be an opportunity to share experiences and develop proposals, official statements and recommendations on the subject of data protection. Commissioners will also discuss the practical implications of current developments, new bills and innovative technologies for data protection and scientific work at their research institutions.

Contact of data protection commissioners at research institutions


info (at) zv.fraunhofer.de


Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research
info (at) awi.de

Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron DESY
Dr. Carsten Porthun
carsten.porthun (at) desy.de

German Cancer Research Centre
Dietmar Elspass
d.elspass (at) dkfz-heidelberg.de

German Aerospace Centre (DLR)
contact-dlr (at) dlr.de

German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)
Ulrich Jürgensen
Ulrich.Juergensen (at) dzne.de

Forschungszentrum Jülich
David A. Wesner
d.a.wesner (at) fz-juelich.de

Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht Centre for Materials and Coastal Research
Dr. Rolf-Peter Stößel
rolf-peter.stoessel (at) hzg.de

GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research
info (at) gsi.de

Helmholtz Association (Head Office)
Johannes Peter Voß
datenschutz (at) helmholtz.de

Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HDZR)
Rainer Schramm
r.schramm (at) hzdr.de

Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie
Gabriele Beschnidt
beschnidt (at) helmholtz-berlin.de

Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
Marko Blau
blau (at) gfz-potsdam.de

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research
Harald Ohrdorf
harald.ohrdorf (at) helmholtz-hzi.de 

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
Dr. Karen Altermann
datenschutz (at) ufz.de

Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health
Werner Bergheim
bergheim (at) helmholtz-muenchen.de

Karlsruher Institute for Technology - KIT
Marina Bitmann
datenschutzbeauftragter (at) kit.edu 

Max Delbrück Center for Moleculare Medicin (MDC) Berlin-Buch
Christine Rieffel-Braune
crieffel (at) mdc-berlin.de

Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics
info (at) ipp.mpg.de

Leibniz Association

Johannes Höper
Datenschutz (at) fv-berlin.de

Max Planck Society

Heidi Schuster
dsb (at) gv.mpg.de



Johannes Peter Voß

Johannes Peter Voß

Data Protection Official

Helmholtz Association

Berlin Office
Anna-Louisa-Karsch-Straße 2
10178 Berlin

Phone: +49 30 206329-12
Fax: +49 30 206329-70
datenschutz (at) helmholtz.de

Alex Schrams Web Neu Juni2014 100x100

Alexander Schrams

Deputy Data Protection Official

Helmholtz Association

Berlin Office
Anna-Louisa-Karsch-Straße 2
10178 Berlin

Phone: +49 30 206329-69
Fax: +49 30 206329-70
alexander.schrams (at) helmholtz.de