In the future, The German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) will cooperate with the Competence Network for Congenital Heart Defects and the Competence Network on Atrial Fibrillation. Parts of the scientific infrastructures of the two competence networks are planned to be integrated into the DZHK by 2015.
“The competence networks have many years’ experience in the planning and execution of large, cross-center studies on the national and international level as well as in the development of registers and biobanks. We want to integrate this expertise into the DZHK,” said DZHK Director Professor Thomas Eschenhagen in his remarks on the cooperation. By the end of 2014, the networks and the DZHK aim to develop a common strategy for a long-term cooperation. An international panel of experts recommended this step in December 2012 in an assessment of the competence networks.
“We greatly welcome the cooperation with the DZHK,” added Professor Hashim Abdul-Khaliq, speaker of the Competence Network for Congenital Heart Defects. “Through this cooperation, synergies will emerge that will benefit both sides tremendously.” Over the past years, the Competence Network has laid the basis for translational research projects by creating sustainable data collections such as the National Register for Congenital Heart Defects and its extensive biobank. Since 2003 circa 30 multicenter scientific studies have been conducted in this research network.
During the last ten years, the Competence Network on Atrial Fibrillation (AFNET) has acquired outstanding expertise in the planning and execution of large science-initiated clinical studies, both on the national and international level. One of the network’s achievements has been to build up a nationwide atrial fibrillation register. This competence in clinical studies provides a solid foundation for future projects in cooperation with the DZHK. “However, as a platform for clinical studies, AFNET is by no means limited to the topic of atrial fibrillation. In the future we can also imagine conducting studies on other heart diseases, such as sudden cardiac death, said Professor Günter Breithardt, who is speaker for the AFNET Board.
The medical competence networks were initiated by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in 1999. They bring together experts across institutions both from academia and patient care with the aim to improve the transfer of research results into practice.
The DZHK is one of six German Centres for Health Research (DZG). These were founded between 2009 and 2011 with the goal of bringing together and expanding research activities on widespread, common diseases in Germany. The focus of the work of the DZHK is to translate the findings of basic research on cardiovascular disease into clinical practice.
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