Improving the quality of biomedical research

Professor John Ioannidis of Stanford University comes to Berlin as an Einstein BIH Visiting Fellow. Among others, Professor Martin Lohse, Scientific Director of the MDC, welcomed the guest.

In 2005, John Ioannidis of Stanford University published a paper that was provocatively titled ‟Why most published research findings are false”. Now, he will serve as an Einstein BIH Visiting Fellow at the BIH Institute of Health (BIH) for three years. Ioannidis will – funded by Stiftung Charité and the Einstein Foundation Berlin ‒ establish the Meta-Research Innovation Center Berlin (METRIC-Berlin), the European “sister” of the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS). Ioannidis’s host is Professor Ulrich Dirnagl, head of the Department of Experimental Neurology at Charité and founder of the BIH QUEST Center. QUEST is an acronym that stands for Quality, Ethics, Open Science, and Translation.

“We want to find out what works best – and what doesn’t work – in scientific research,” Ioannidis outlines his goal for METRIC-Berlin. METRIC-Berlin’s researchers – in collaboration with their colleagues from the BIH QUEST Center – will take a close look at the scientific process itself: What research methods are used? How are results obtained, verified, and published? How are researchers appraised, and what incentives and rewards exist in the scientific system? “In this way, we want to produce recommendations that increase the effectiveness and value of research – and thus science’s importance to society,” Ioannidis said.

“Basic research must be credible”

Martin Lohse, Scientific Director of the MDC, welcomed the guest: "The Max Delbrück Center is looking forward working with Professor John Ioannidis at the Berlin Institute of Health Research and to future interactions and discussions with him. With his call for reproducibility of experimental data, he has opened an important discussion worldwide, which is particularly important for further clinical or pharmaceutical development. Such reflection is also important for basic research. Basic research must be credible and reliable.

It is important to the Max Delbrück Center not to obstruct freedom for innovation and discovery by demanding formalization. In the area of conflicting demands between a free spirit of research and the demands of development projects, the challenge is to make the requirements of both worlds achieve their respective rights."

The Federal Minister of Research also wishes Ioannidis every success

German Research Minister Anja Karliczek also expressed her delight that the BIH was hosting this guest: “Medical research findings need to be high quality, reliable, and clinically viable so that new therapies and drugs can benefit patients quicker. METRIC-Berlin will enable Professor John Ioannidis to further advance his initiative on quality assurance in medical research. He will thus make an important contribution to improving the translation of findings. I am pleased that the Berlin Institute of Health can welcome Professor John Ioannidis as an Einstein Visiting Fellow. This proves again that Germany is a leading location for research and has a very strong international appeal. I wish Professor John Ioannidis and his colleagues at the Berlin Institute of Health great success!”

In his frequently quoted paper, John Ioannidis explains that many spectacular research findings are not reproducible. This could be the result of insufficient samples, poor study design, preconceived hypotheses, or incorrect interpretations. “In the last few years much has improved,” said Ioannidis. “For example, scientific journals are paying closer attention to make sure submitted work meets certain quality criteria. Funding organizations are also supporting projects that check the findings of other researchers. But there is still a lot to do before we achieve our goal of ensuring that most research findings are correct!”

Further Information

‟Taking the quality of biomedical research to a whole new level“ (BIH press release)


Jutta Kramm
Max Delbrück Center of Molecular Medicine (MDC), Germany
Communications Department

+49 30 9406-2140 or

The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC)


The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) is one of the world’s leading biomedical research institutions. Max Delbrück, a Berlin native, was a Nobel laureate and one of the founders of molecular biology. At the MDC’s locations in Berlin-Buch and Mitte, researchers from some 60 countries analyze the human system – investigating the biological foundations of life from its most elementary building blocks to systems-wide mechanisms. By understanding what regulates or disrupts the dynamic equilibrium in a cell, an organ, or the entire body, we can prevent diseases, diagnose them earlier, and stop their progression with tailored therapies. Patients should benefit as soon as possible from basic research discoveries. The MDC therefore supports spin-off creation and participates in collaborative networks. It works in close partnership with Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin in the jointly run Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC), the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) at Charité, and the German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK). Founded in 1992, the MDC today employs 1,600 people and is funded 90 percent by the German federal government and 10 percent by the State of Berlin.