Anchoring the new translational research effort are four national research centers established last year by Germany—each separately focused on infection, lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer—along with the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases, which opened in 2009, and the National Centre for Diabetes Research, which opened in 2010.
The four new centers will receive a combined €450 million ($618.45 million) through 2014. For example, the budget of the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research started at €5 million (about $6.9 million) this year and will rise to about €30 million ($41.3 million) by 2014.
The cancer consortium is a partnership of the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) in Heidelberg and regional research groups from seven other regions in Germany. It will focus on: carcinogenesis signaling pathways, molecular diagnosis, tumor immunology, imaging and radiation therapy, stem cells, therapy resistance, and prevention and early detection.
The Translational Lung Research Centre will see its funding rise from €10 million next year to €25 million in 2014. That center is a consortium of the German Centre for Lung Research and researcher groups from seven areas in Germany.
The national centers are designed to reshape Germany’s biotech research effort, which has long relied on universities, university-based clinics, and societies like Max Planck and Helmholtz. With 33,000 employees, 17 research centers, and an annual budget of about €3.3 billion, Helmholtz is Germany’s largest scientific organization. Technically, it will fund all six translational centers since the federal government is prohibited from directly funding universities.
Biotech research in Germany is generated by 343 universities and more than 330 research institutes that team up with companies to discover drugs and bring them to market. However, the whole of that research effort has long been less than the sum of its impressive institutional parts as institutions have historically not collaborated much with each other. That hurdle has been surmounted in recent years through the rise of groups that combine researchers from universities, institutions, hospitals, and other organizations, both nationally as well as within 25 regional biotech clusters, called “bioregions,” created to unite businesses with academic and research institutions.