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Press releases

DZHK Provides Data Infrastructure for Corona Research

Clinical data, medical image data and biosamples from Covid-19 patients come together in the DZHK research platform. | ©Ca-ssis - istockphoto.com

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The German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) is making its research platform available for coronavirus research, with clinical data, diagnostic images and patient samples that can be collected uniformly throughout Germany. In doing so, it is supporting the National Pandemic Cohort Network (NAPKON), which collects data from COVID-19 patients nationwide and makes it available for research.

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"We are very pleased that our clinical research platform, which we already use to conduct twenty clinical studies in cardiovascular research throughout Germany, will now also be used for COVID-19 research," said Thomas Eschenhagen, spokesman of the board of directors.

The central idea of the DZHK platform is to collect clinical data, medical image data and biospecimens from different clinical studies and centers in a centralized and standardized way. This allows research data to be used for questions that go far beyond the goals of individual studies. "We applied this approach to Covid-19 research," says Eschenhagen. Once adapted, the system was immediately ready for use in coronavirus research.

And this is how it works: All German university hospitals can enter the patient data collected in NAPKON into central systems. The same applies to image and biomaterial data. For this purpose, standardized electronic questionnaires and procedures for data collection were developed in advance together with NAPKON experts.

The DZHK's ethics office supports the creation of patient records, while the independent trust office pseudonymizes the identifying data and manages patient consent. "This is one of the most modern systems for protecting personal data and patient rights, and our platform is also completely paperless," adds Eschenhagen.

The DZHK will collect the COVID-19 research data until about spring 2021. After that, the Medical Informatics Initiative, which is currently developing a concept for the long-term operation of such a data platform, will take over. Data from routine care and data from apps and wearables will then flow into this platform.


In addition to the DZHK office, the following DZHK partner institutions are involved in the DZHK research platform for Covid-19 research

- Institute for Cardiovascular Computer-Assisted Medicine, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

- Institute for Community Medicine and Institute for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, Greifswald University Hospital

- Institute for Medical Informatics, University Medical School Göttingen

- Helmholtz Zentrum München German Research Center for Environmental Health, Division of Molecular Epidemiology (AME)


Contact: Dr Julia Hoffmann, Head of Research Platform, German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK), Tel.: 030 3465 52917, julia.hoffmann(at)dzhk.de