Scientific know-how and skills of external partners are sought after in the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK). Therefore it is now possible for scientists and institutions which are non-members of the DZHK to offer their specific methods or laboratory procedures (shared expertise) to DZHK scientists and in return receive project funding from the DZHK.
As of now, external research institutions can be part of the DZHK’s experimental pipeline. “We know a lot, but we don’t know it all”, says DZHK-chairman Prof. Thomas Eschenhagen. For the pharmacologist the DZHK is not a closed circle. He justifies this unusual step to provide funding to external researchers by acknowledging all the other outstanding expertise in the field. Especially interdisciplinary methods such as drug- or MicroRNA-screening are not represented in the DZHK’S 27 partner institutions specialized in cardiovascular research.
In the experimental pipeline built since mid-2012, the DZHK researchers can now access close to 80 shared expertise offered by their colleagues from the partner institutions. Research groups are highly specialized in general - for example, while one is focused on the production of viral vectors, another masters complicated mathematical modeling. “From the start, one of the goals of the DZHK was to systematically record the expertise essential for cardiovascular research and make it available to other researchers in the DZHK”, says Eschenhagen. Prospectively, offers from external partners will be accepted and added to the experimental pipeline.
The pipeline comprises the entire process of therapy development, from the initial target identification up to assay development and drug screening. Over the past year, the shared expertise have been used roughly 70 times in larger and smaller collaborative projects.
For Eschenhagen the pipeline is a project of success that contributes to networking in cardiovascular research and the development of new cooperation. A detailed description of the shared expertise’s concept and the application procedure for external providers can be downloaded from DZHK website.