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Berlin to Get Institute for Systems Biology – Joint Project of the Max Delbrück Center and the Charité – New Initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has allocated around 7.5 million euros over the next three years to establish an institute for medical systems biology in Berlin, Germany. It is a joint project of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, and the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin. The Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology will be under the aegis of the MDC with Nikolaus Rajewsky as director. The institute is one of six pilot projects of the new BMBF funding program “Advanced Research and Innovation in the New States”. Germany’s Education and Research Minister Annette Schavan presented the 45 million euro program to the public at an “innovation conference” in Berlin.

biology investigates life processes and how they interact. It seeks to
understand the mechanisms of pathogenesis and to identify structures for
targeted, innovative and more effective therapies. The focus is no longer on
genes and their proteins as isolated components, but on their regulation and
their interaction with each other.

scientific areas will be RNA biology and DNA or RNA variability. For
example,  microRNAs have recently been
implicated as promising therapeutic targets in cancer and metabolic diseases.
To predict, test, and ultimately understand microRNA function, a mixture of
experimental and computational methods is needed, including high throughput
sequencing, comparative genomics, bioinformatics and modeling, and recently also
mass spectometry.

example is the advent of sequencing the entire human DNA or RNA of an
individual in a short time and at relatively low cost. This promises to advance
the discovery of genetic components of human diseases and a bridge towards
personalized medicine.

Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology will give this increasingly
important research area a big boost,” Nikolaus Rajewsky said. One main focus of
his work in this institute will be the establishment and development of new
high-throughput methods with which researchers can quickly generate system-wide
data and systematically evaluate it, in order to predict the behavior of
biological systems in health and disease. A second focus is on promoting the
advancement of junior researchers.

Like the
other five pilot projects in this funding program, the institute will initially
obtain start-up funds. For the Berlin
systems biology institute this will amount to about 7.5 million euros for
2008-2010 from the BMBF. The MDC will fund the project with an additional two
million euros in the form of resources and infrastructure. The Berlin Senate
will support the project with additional funds from the state of Berlin. Besides the
Charité, the partners of the MDC are Humboldt University
Berlin, Free University Berlin (FU) and
Technical University Berlin (TU), the Leibniz Institute for Molecular
Pharmacology (FMP) in Berlin-Buch, the GermanRheuma
and institutes of the Max Planck Society and the Helmholtz Association.

Due to
already existing research projects in genome and proteome research, Berlin offers good
preconditions for research and development in the new institute for medical
systems biology. The MDC has a gene mapping center which has been in operation
since 1997, Free University has a protein structure factory, and the FMP has an
academic screening unit for small-molecule interactive substances.


and Public Affairs
Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC)
10¸13125 Berlin, Germany
+49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 96; Fax: +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 33

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