Creation of the Network of University Medicine

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March 2020, virtually nothing was known about this disease. As a result, numerous research activities developed very quickly. However, most of these were very small-scale and fragmented. As a rule, there was no bundling or coordination of similar activities. In addition, there was a lack of nationwide structures in Germany at the time to quickly provide large amounts of meaningful data from patient care and clinical studies for COVID-19 research. Instead, Germany had to rely on data and findings from countries such as the UK and Israel.

To counteract this fragmentation and the lack of research data, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) launched the Network of University Medicine (NUM) in April 2020 and provided considerable funding for this purpose. During the first funding period (April 2020 to December 2021, funding volume EUR 150 million), the scientists worked together in 13 cross-location Projects. The second funding period started in January 2022 (funding volume EUR 240 million).

The NUM's research activities to date have made important contributions to combating the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, a considerable amount of research and data infrastructure has been set up in a very short period of time to enable cross-site research collaboration, data collection and data utilisation. With the help of these infrastructures, valuable data collections on COVID-19 have been created, which can now also be used for post-COVID research.

In this development work, the NUM has built on existing infrastructures as far as possible, such as the clinical study platform of the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK), the emergency admission register AKTIN or the data integration centres of the Medical Informatics Initiative (MII).