Research Field Health

Health Research in the Helmholtz Association aims to unravel the complex causes of major chronic diseases and develop novel strategies for prevention, early diagnostics and effective therapies for the benefit of patients.

Strategic Cross-Programme Activities

To be able to respond as quickly as possible to new developments, a flexible system of cross-cutting activities was created to contribute to the further development of important resources and technologies. Here, the fields of epidemiology, translational research, and personalized medicine are given particular significance as regards research policy and strategy.

Epidemiological research
Epidemiological research aims at identifying both the genetic and the environmental risk factors so as to prevent diseases or to detect and treat these at an early stage. In order to create a unique resource for epidemiological research, the Helmholtz Health Research has initiated the development of a major prospective national Cohort Study in Germany. The following Centres participated in the initiative alongside university partners: the German Cancer Research Centre, the Helmholtz Centre Munich, the Max Delbrück Center Berlin-Buch as well as the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research.

Translational Research
The Helmholtz Health Centres adopt a leading role in the field of translational research both nationally and internationally. With the development of local translation centres in cooperation with university hospitals, infrastructure platforms have been created, which will decidedly accelerate the transfer of relevant findings from basic research into clinical applications. The formation of strategic alliances with partners from the pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology and medical technology also considerably reinforces the expertise in this field. The long-term collaboration of Helmholtz Health Centres with partners from university medicine and other research institutions will experience a new dimension with the impending establishment of German Centres of Health Research.

Personalized Medicine
The Helmholtz Cross-Program Initiative Personalized Medicine iMed will provide a common platform for high-throughput and information technologies, thereby strengthening the individual medical research disciplines in each center. Joint activities in cancer, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, infectious and diseases of the nervous system will focus on:

- molecular diagnostics, risk stratification and primary prevention
- individualized therapy
- secondary prevention and outcomes

Large population studies will provide insights into genetic and environmental risk factors for these widespread diseases. By combining the complementary research strengths and technological prowess of participating Helmholtz centers and local partners from university medicine, iMed will generate considerable added value for each research program. iMed will allow the development of risk-adjusted programs for prevention and early diagnosis, thereby enabling targeted interventions even prior to the manifestation of clinical disease.

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