The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) examines the causes of diseases of the nervous system and develops respective measures for prevention, therapy and care. To facilitate a timely transfer of scientific findings into medical practice – this bridge-building concept is known as “translation” – we work in a strategic and interdisciplinary fashion. The DZNE covers the entire spectrum from clarification of molecular processes in simple organisms and brain cells to clinical studies, population studies and medical-service research.
Scientific Research on Neurodegeneration
DZNE focus is on “Neurodegeneration”; this is a pathological process that is characterised by malfunction and loss of nerve cells. In addition to the brain, the spinal marrow and the sensory organs can be affected. Neurodegeneration usually develops slowly over several years in which it can lead to dementia, trigger neurological movement disorders and massively impair health in other ways as well. Examples for this are Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s chorea, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), frontotemporal dementia (FTD), so-called ataxias and age-related macular degeneration which can lead to blindness. All of these diseases are thus far not curable, and their symptoms can only be marginally alleviated. This is because none of the current therapies has an effect upon the origins. Moreover, we don’t know what factors affect the development of these diseases. The role that nutrition and lifestyle play hereby is particularly unclear. Therefore, the DZNE is conducting research – from molecular biology to bedside care – on all aspects of neurodegenerative diseases.
New sites – one research centre
For this purpose, the DZNE is bundling excellent expertise – distributed nationwide – within a single research facility. Currently there are more than 800 employees active at the DZNE. They collaborate at our nine sites - Berlin, Bonn, Dresden, Göttingen, Magdeburg, Munich, Rostock/Greifswald, Tübingen and Witten – closely with universities, university clinics and non-university facilities. All of these activities are strategically coordinated. In this manner a critical mass of specialists comes together, which enables target-oriented research on new options for treatment. Partnerships exist with industry, with patient organisations and with research facilities throughout the world.
With their new buildings at almost every site and cutting-edge research infrastructure, the DZNE is an international centre of attraction for the best minds. Currently, about 50 different nationalities are represented at the DZNE. More than 30 percent of our scientists come from foreign countries.
Promotion of junior scientists
In collaboration with their university partners, the DZNE is promoting young research scientists. Tenure-track programmes support them in setting up a scientific track with long-term prospects.