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Medical Excellence: Novelties in treatment methods and diagnostics

exterior view DHZB German Heart Centre Berlin
Kai Abresch Fotografie

Baby undergoes successful heart surgery without donor blood

At just eleven days old, Lotte is probably the youngest patient ever to undergo successful heart surgery of such complexity without receiving blood from a donor. For the operation at the Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin (DHZB), a heart-lung machine specially developed for newborns was used. For years, DHZB surgeons and paediatric cardiologists have been working on systems that do not require donor blood. This minimizes the risks of infection and intolerance, and allows patients to recover more quickly. The DHZB is currently the only heart centre worldwide to routinely use these systems. More information about the DHZB can be found here.  More information about the DHZB can be found here.

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entrance to Charité Campus Mitte
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Charité professor wins 2016 Berlin Science Award

Neuroscientist and stroke expert Professor Ulrich Dirnagl has received the 2016 Berlin Science Award. The accolade pays tribute to his numerous research contributions in the field of stroke research, cerebral blood flow and cerebral imaging. An internationally renowned scientist, he heads the Experimental Neurology department at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and is the director of the Center for Stroke Research Berlin. The award is endowed with 40,000 euros. More information about the Charité can be found here.

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Biobank
Photo: Berlin Institute of Health

New biobank provides foundation for outstanding research

Since December 2016, Berlin has had an ultra-modern biobank, giving the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) access to a storage facility that is unique in Germany. In future, it will be possible to store up to two million lab samples from patients in the new building at the Campus Virchow-Klinikum and make them available for research purposes. Together with the corresponding treatment data, the biological material will be collected, encrypted and stored. The collection will allow the progression and causes of diseases to be better studied in future, and new personalized therapies to be developed. More information about the Charité can be found here.

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Tradition and innovation

Roof terrace on the Reichstag at evening light
visitBerlin, photo: Pierre Adenis

Healthcare then and now

Berlin combines centuries of medical tradition with the very latest medical developments. Medical history has been made over the years by the pioneering specialists at Berlin’s Charité – who include Rudolf Virchow, Robert Koch and Paul Ehrlich. As a research institution, the Charité has produced more than half of all Germany’s Nobel laureates in physiology and medicine. Thanks to its numerous outstanding projects and research units at the German Research Foundation (DFG), it remains one of Germany’s most research-intensive medical facilities to this day.

Basic clinical research plays a fundamental role when it comes to tackling ever new medical challenges, as do key disciplines in IT and nanotechnology. Every day, the close cooperation between clinical practitioners and researchers yields medical innovations that directly benefit patients. A thriving start-up scene is constantly searching for digital solutions in the area of healthcare, which additionally accelerates the pace of medical innovation in Berlin.

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Charité Campus Mitte with high rise building
visitBerlin, photo: Wolfgang Scholvien

Charité – the largest university hospital in Europe

The Charité in Berlin is one of Europe’s oldest and largest teaching hospitals. Established outside the city walls in 1710, it was originally intended for plague victims. Just a century later, the hospital was entirely rebuilt and became the medical faculty of the University of Berlin that had just been founded. The Rudolf Virchow Krankenhaus was built in the early nineteenth century, while the late twentieth century saw the medical faculty of the Humboldt-Universität merge with the Virchow-Klinikum to form the “Universitätsklinikum Charité”. Another merger with the “Universitätsklinikum Benjamin Franklin” of the Freie Universität in 2003 led to one of Europe’s largest teaching hospitals: “Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin”. It has four major campuses where academic teaching, research and patient care are combined to form one complete whole – its motto being “research, teaching, healing, helping”.

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Pipette and Petri dish in the laboratory
GettyImages, photo: nicolas

Berlin: Germany's leading research location

Berlin is one of Europe’s leading centres of science and research, thanks in particular to its focus on medicine, medical technology, biotechnology, optical technologies, information and communication technologies. Young people from all over the world come to Berlin to learn, research and teach, attracted by the city’s four universities, the Charité teaching hospital, seven universities of applied sciences and over 30 private universities.

Technology parks ensure intensive collaboration between researchers and practitioners. More than 1,000 companies, ten non-university research centres and Humboldt-Universität’s Campus Adlershof are based at the Berlin Adlershof Science City, for example. This makes Adlershof one of the most successful high-tech hubs in Germany. Over 15,000 people work at this well-developed urban site, which is also home to over 6,500 students.

Covering 31,000 square metres, Campus Berlin-Buch is one of Germany’s largest biotech parks, combining basic and medical research with a particular focus on biotechnology and biomedicine. A dedicated centre provides support to start-ups, and numerous life sciences companies are based here. The campus atmosphere is conducive to intensive technology transfer and makes interdisciplinary projects possible.

All national research organizations – such as the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (FhG), the Helmholtz Association (HGF), the Leibniz Association (WGL) and the Max Planck Society – are represented in Berlin, each of them with several institutes. Founded in 2009, the Einstein Foundation Berlin promotes science and research at the highest international level with a view to establishing Berlin long-term as an attractive centre for science.

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female doctor on a digital screen
iStock.com, photo: nzphotonz

Digital technologies on the move

Globalization and ageing populations mean that “e-health” applications are becoming increasingly relevant. In this context, the very latest information and communication technologies are used in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and patient monitoring. They allow information to be shared more quickly and more securely – in many cases even internationally.

Berlin boasts a dynamic IT sector and has long played an active role in the development of telemedical applications. Hospitals work hand in hand with research institutions and telemedical centres to develop medical informatics and telemedicine and put them into routine clinical practice.

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ICC Berlin International Congress Center
visitberlin, Foto: Wolfgang Scholvien

City for medical meetings and conventions

Berlin is the congress capital in Germany and for the last years has been one of the top five international destinations for meetings and conventions. The largest part goes back to events in the medical and pharmaceutical sector. The Berlin Convention Office provides an up-to-date overview of the forthcoming events: Congress Calendar Medical & Pharmaceutical.

Each year in October Berlin is hosting the World Health Summit, where more than 1.600 leaders and stakeholders meet from academia, politics, the private sector and civil society organizations. Current and future health issues and challenges in health care are discussed from different perspectives.

 

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doctor and patient shaking hands
iStock.com, photo: BraunS

Professional care with personal attention

Some 1.2 million people work as nurses in Germany. In Berlin, around 42,000 nurses in hospitals provide care to patients, as well as to sick and older people in outpatient care facilities. Training of nurses is regulated by law and takes three years, with an examination at the end. Qualified nurses can then embark on further training, specializing for example in areas such as surgery or intensive care. Nurses have sound medical knowledge, and tend to have extensive professional experience of dealing with patients. Quality-oriented hospitals attach great important to the further training of their nursing staff. They make additional courses available to them, as well as refresher courses aimed at keeping their skills up-to-date, e.g. in the area of wound treatment or hygiene.

Patients in hospitals can always turn to a nurse with any question, be it of a medical, personal or social nature. Many Berlin hospitals provide multilingual care, employing international nurses who are able to talk to patients in their native languages. Where this is not possible, an interpreter can often be provided.

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pharmacist holding medication in her hand
GettyImages, photo: alvarez

Recreation after the hospital stay

Complete recovery after a hospital stay often requires further medical support. A patient who has undergone orthopaedic surgery may already be quite capable of coping with everyday life, but will still need to undergo physiotherapy or additional treatments to further the convalescence process. In such cases patients can take advantage of the ambulatory physiotherapy services on offer in Berlin. With a referral from their specialist, the patient will arrange an appointment with a physiotherapy practice, preferably close to their hotel or apartment, after checking that the required services are on offer there. The physiotherapist then draws up an individual treatment plan together with the patient, working out which treatment sessions will be necessary over a specific timeframe.

A broad range of specialist suppliers of healthcare products and pharmaceuticals can be found throughout Germany, and this is certainly true of Berlin – the city boasts more than 900 pharmacies that have a legal mandate to supply medicines and other pharmaceutical products. Pharmacies also offer night-time and emergency services, and compound individual medications on site. The full range of over-the-counter and prescription drugs is available from pharmacies, which will also provide extensive expert advice about how to take or apply the product in question. There are tougher regulations governing prescription drugs in Germany than for example in the USA and many other countries. As a result, you may find that a drug you can buy over-the-counter at home requires a prescription here. There are also more than 250 specialist medical supply stores in Berlin, where patients with a prescription can obtain products such as orthopaedic insoles, customized shoes or walking aids. The expert staff at these shops can provide advice about supplies for diabetics, persons with sports injuries or wheelchair users.

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