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Deutsches Rheuma-Forschungszentrum Berlin

DC-THERA Partner


Associated member of the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft
Authorized for further training (DGfl-immunologist)

An institute dealing with one syndrome?
The DRFZ has the task to practise basic research in the field of rheumatic diseases. At the moment, 136 men and women work for the institute.
The DRFZ is the only institute in Germany with the exclusive assignment of interdisciplinary research on rheumatic diseases. When recommending an integration of the DRFZ into the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft in 2004, the scientific board emphasised the fact that it is one of the internationally leading institutes in the fields of immunology, experimental rheumatology and epidemiology.
The concept of cellular pathology, formulated in 1855 by Rudolph Virchow, according to which diseases are caused by a malfunction of cells, is the overall concept of the DRFZ.
The understanding of this malfunction of cells involved in rheumatic diseases is the basic factor in the development of cell therapies at the DRFZ. With the help of those, cells can be treated directly by either correcting their malfunction, removing them from the body or destroying them when still in the body.
In order to rebuild tissue affected by rheumatic diseases, cells with healing abilities have to be found and activated. The cellular and molecular understanding prepares the ground for effective therapies for rheumatic diseases.
Our epidemiologists investigate factors influencing the course of inflammatory rheumatic diseases, evaluate the quality degree of medical care today and discuss the necessity of further improvements. This is put into practice in close cooperation with a network of more than 300 rheumatologists from all parts of Germany. In 1993 they started to build up a data bank for the treatment of patients which has become the largest in the world. Separately for adults and children it provides information about the actual state of medical care and possible deficits. More than 200.000 patients informed about their health situation, quality of life and the extend of their pain, some of them over a period of several years. The doctors collected and documented the corresponding medical data.

Cooperation with other research groups
One important pillar of the DRFZ’s work is the close cooperation with other research groups. The scientists from the DRFZ work together in 11 working groups and 10 so called liaison groups, where they cooperate with colleagues from other institutes and from the Charité Berlin. In 1999 the German Research Council (DFG) installed the first special research sector at the Charité in which the DRFZ was involved. In the following years this was complemented by five more sectors integrated in the research groups of the DRFZ.
Furthermore, the DRFZ is involved in seven research networks of the EU.
The DRFZ is one of the centres within the competence network “Inflammatory Rheumatic Diseases”, founded by the Federal Ministry of Science in 1998.
Abdreas Radbruch succeeded Henning Zeidler from Hannover and Gerd-Rüdiger Burmester from the Charité as the network’s spokesman and led it into its third funding phase in 2004/2005. In autumn 2005 Angela Zink, vice director of the DRFZ, became spokesperson of the competence network for 2006 and 2007.
The project “Berlinflame”, a cooperation with partners from the Charité in 2001, made the DRFZ one of five national centres in the research sector “Infection and Inflammation” of the National Genome Research Network (NGFN). In the meantime the project has been renamed SIPAGE and prolonged until 2007.
In the funding programme “Tissue Engineering” of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research several groups of the DRFZ cooperate with partners from the Charité and companies for biotechnology.

Further information about all those projects can be found under “Research”.

Through three confounded chairs supported by the DRFZ:
- “Experimental Rheumatology”, Prof. Dr. Andreas Radbruch
- “Clinical Rheumatology”, Prof. Dr. Falk Hiepe, and
- “Epidemiology”, Prof. Dr. Angela Zink,
the institute is closely linked to the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

Scientific Publications
The effective cooperation of scientists within the DRFZ as well as with partners from the Charité and other research institutes, not only in Berlin, is also reflected in the scientific publications. Most of the ca. 100 publications per year are co-authored by scientists from the DRFZ and those from other institutes. It is especially encouraging that the share of publications in highly estimated international journals like the Journal of Experimental Medicine, Arthritis and Rheumatism, Blood or the Journal of Immunology has constantly increased over the last few years.

The institute is financed by the Federal State of Berlin. Certain research projects are supported by the Federal Ministry of Research, the German Research Council and the European Union. Further funding is welcome at any time.


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