fightCOVID@Heidelberg: an initiative across institution boundaries and disciplines


Some impressions of our first digital BioRN lounge. Source: BioRN

Heidelberg, 30.04.2020. Yesterday, our first BioRN virtual Lounge has been a success. Over 120 participants among scientists from the regional research institutions and biotech and pharma companies, met in the late afternoon to hear more about the extraordinary initiative fightCOVID@Heidelberg. The initiative has been presented by Prof. Ralf Bartenschlager, Director of the Department of Molecular Virology at the Centre for Infectious Diseases at the Medical Faculty of the University of Heidelberg and Head of the Division of Virus-Associated Carcinogenesis at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. In few weeks, this task force pooled together 110 projects (of which 70% in the clinic) in the fields of antibody testing, drug screening, disease development (pathogenesis) and vaccine development. The cooperation has been established with the aim to efficiently perform research against the new corona virus in a shorter time, by bringing together experts from a broad range of disciplines and avoid redundancy. The task force relies on an interdisciplinary and cross-institutional research network that covers the entire breadth of fundamental life science and medical research in Heidelberg and Mannhein. It includes clinicians and scientists of the two Medical Faculties and the Heidelberg and Mannheim University Hospitals, the BioQuant centre, the Center for Molecular Biology and the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg.

The cooperation beyond institutions boundaries, the number of ongoing projects and the quick repurpose of several research labs is once more revealing the scientific excellence of the Rhine-Neckar Cluster.

Prof. Bartenschlager is a renowned virologist known worldwide especially for his ground-breaking research of the hepatitis C virus (HCV), for which he was awarded with several honors and awards. This task force is coordinated by Prof. Bartenschlager together with Prof. Kräusslich, spokesperson of the Centre of Infectious Diseases at Heidelberg University Hospital and Director of its virology division. Our next BioRN lounge will be on May 26 and will be hold again in this digital format. Jan Schreiber Head of Digital Transformation & Communications and Founder Digital Business Lab at Roche is our guest speaker. Join us at the BioRN Lounge – where science meets industry!

About BioRN BioRN is the science and industry cluster of the Rhine-Main-Neckar region around Heidelberg, one of Germany’s strongest biotech hubs. It is a non-profit network fostering health innovations and serving its members by creating a rich translational ecosystem as well as promoting, representing and connecting the regional innovation stakeholders. Our vision is to develop the region into a world-leading life science cluster attracting international investments and top global talent. BioRN has about100 institutional members, including several top academic and research institutions, 7 pharmaceutical companies, a large range of small and medium-sized enterprises bolstering the life science ecosystem as well as local government organizations and interest groups.

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BioRN is the science and industry cluster of the Rhine-Main-Neckar region around Heidelberg, one of Germany’s strongest biotech hubs. It is a non-profit network fostering health innovations, supporting a rich translational ecosystem and promoting, representing and connecting the regional innovation stakeholders.

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