"We do everything we can to continue to deliver important research results that help to combat the coronavirus pandemic"
We are going through unprecedented times. The pathogen SARS-CoV-2 and the lung disease COVID-19 caused by it determine everyday life to a degree that is completely unknown to us. The President of the Helmholtz Association Otmar D. Wiestler explains what Helmholtz as a research organization does to continue to deliver important research results that help to combat the current pandemic and cope with the consequences of the crisis.
We are going through unprecedented times. The pathogen SARS-CoV-2 and the lung disease COVID-19 caused by it determine everyday life to a degree that is completely unknown to us. The pandemic is having a massive impact on our society, which depends on solidarity and cohesion. In addition, it also has many consequences for our private and working lives.
Our mission at Helmholtz is to contribute to solving the grand challenges of our time by conducting top-level research. As a research organization, we are rightly asked what we are contributing to help overcome this threatening pandemic and to mitigate its manifold consequences.
Deliver research results that help to combat the current pandemic
In a current crisis such as this, it is therefore obvious for us to do everything we can to continue to deliver important research results that help to combat the current pandemic, prevent future events and cope with the consequences of the crisis.
Powerful, interdisciplinary and sometimes even atypical collaborations have been established to research the virus in record time. The same applies to Helmholtz: from the Research Field “Health” to “Information” and “Matter”, all of our Research Fields are currently making important contributions. Numerous experts are working tirelessly to provide research results on SARS-CoV-2, but also to show new ways of coping with this pandemic and its complex consequences.
Activities of the Helmholtz Centers
All the Helmholtz Centers are doing excellent work. The Research Field “Health” is currently under particular strain. The Helmholtz staff at our Centers support clinical activities in many ways, participate in the development of new examination procedures, drug candidates and vaccines, conduct studies to characterize SARS-CoV-2, provide their medical information services and actively contribute to the public debate. An up-to-date overview of our far-reaching contributions can be found on our Helmholtz website www.helmholtz.de/corona.
I would also like to thank the scientists who are not or only indirectly involved in the research of SARS-CoV-2. I know that you, too, are doing your utmost to continue to devote yourself to your research, even in minimal operation conditions. Here an astonishing degree of solidarity, including international support, has characterized the recent weeks. With people no longer being able to come together as usual, creative minds have quickly developed innovative solutions. From virtual conferences in various formats to the digitally supported emergency operation of research infrastructures – the many examples are impressive. As a scientific community, we can be proud of this. I am well aware that many of you are also personally involved in a tremendous way.
Find unbureaucratic solutions for research projects
All researchers at Helmholtz can be sure of this: We will do everything in our power to ensure that scientific activities in all our Research Fields will be resumed quickly and in full when the time comes. Nevertheless, delays in some research projects are unfortunately unavoidable. I would like to assure you that I will do my utmost to find unbureaucratic solutions that will help to ensure that projects can be continued with the necessary equipment at a later date despite the crisis.
Last but not least, on behalf of Helmholtz, I would like to take this opportunity to also thank all of our employees from the administrative, technical and management levels for their outstanding work and support during these difficult times: they, too, are working day after day with great personal commitment to continue our important work.
Every day we are reminded that this situation has a significant impact on our private lives. We all have to get used to it, give up personal contacts – some of them with our families – and some liberties. At the moment, it is important to concentrate on what is essential: Health, family and overcoming the crisis together. For all the worries and hardships that arise in the course of this extraordinary situation, solutions will be found in time. We are currently working on many of them, as individual Research Centers and as a powerful community.
The contribution of science to solving the crisis
These days show in a special way what a decisive contribution science makes to solving grand challenges and what great trust people place in us. These incisive experiences also remind our society that effective research and development are essential foundations for securing our future. Many of the measures that are now being rapidly implemented to tackle the epidemic are based on sound scientific facts. They are often the result of years of outstanding basic research, as conducted by us and many other partners in the scientific system. This foundation must be further strengthened in the future.
Let us together as a community master this unprecedented situation. Wherever the Helmholtz Head Office can help, we will be happy to do so. I would also like to express my sincere thanks to the staff of the Head Office for their enormous commitment over the past days and weeks.
I wish all of you in the Helmholtz family continued success at work, but above all, much strength and health for you and your loved ones. Together we will successfully tackle this threatening challenge.
Otmar D. Wiestler
President of the Helmholtz Association