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Stefan Wiemann elected new spokesman of the German Genome Research Network

Associate Professor (PD) Dr. Stefan Wiemann of the German Cancer Research Centre (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) has been elected spokesman of the Project Committee of the National Genome Research Network. This funding programme supports projects in medical genome research aimed at fighting relevant widespread diseases.

Dr. Stefan Wiemann © German Cancer Research Centre

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been funding genome research in Germany since 1995. The first project funded by the BMBF was the German Human Genome Project whose activities were later continued in the National Genome Research Network (NGFN). After completion of the first two funding rounds, medical genome research currently receives funding of 125 million euros for an initial three-year period in a programme called "NGFN-Plus".  Stefan Wiemann, provisional head of the Department of Molecular Genome Analysis at the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), was recently elected network spokesman for a period of two years. He succeeds Professor Martin Hrabé de Angelis from the Helmholtz Centre in Munich.

What are the objectives of NGFN-Plus? Stefan Wiemann explains: "We need to gain an in-depth understanding of the molecular processes that lead to diseases. Modern technologies help us to create the basis for the targeted development of drugs. Our NGFN projects therefore go far beyond gene analyses and also focus on RNA and proteins as well as metabolic and signalling pathways, in order to find as many starting points as possible for the development of new therapies. Using highly specialised analysis methods, the NGFN creates excess value that separately working laboratories are unable to achieve. Networking is the only way to be part of top international research at the same time as opening up new strategies for medical application."

After his doctoral thesis at the German Cancer Research Centre, the molecular biologist Stefan Wiemann went on to work at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), which is also based in Heidelberg and is one of the leading centres of automated DNA sequencing in the world. In 1996, Professor Annemarie Poustka brought Stefan Wiemann back to the DKFZ where he established a library of all human genes as part of the German Human Genome Project. In collaboration with colleagues from EMBL, Wiemann developed a high-throughput method to introduce genes back into cells, where they are translated into proteins, whose functions the molecular biologists systematically analyse.

NGFN-Plus involves 26 “Integrated Medical Genome Research Networks”. These networks, which are involved in over 300 projects, are working towards a comprehensive molecular understanding of disease processes. Major focus is put on research into cancer and neurodegenerative diseases as well as cardiovascular and infectious diseases. The scientific results provide the basis for developing new diagnosis and therapy processes for economically relevant diseases. “Here at the German Cancer Research Centre we focus especially on finding new drugs for the treatment of malignant tumours,” explains Wiemann, “but there is also a great need for innovative therapies for widespread diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes and other illnesses for which only inadequate treatments are available at present.”

PD Dr. Stefan Wiemann
German Cancer Research Centre
Im Neuenheimer Feld 580
69120 Heidelberg
E-mail: s.wiemann@dkfz.de
Website address: https://www.gesundheitsindustrie-bw.de/en/article/press-release/stefan-wiemann-elected-new-spokesman-of-the-german-genome-research-network