The Path to Establish URTCs

Medicine is not a science for science’s sake: the aim of making any new findings is that they should reach patients in the form of new treatments and medicines – and as fast as possible. What drives this process – its motor, so to speak – is translation: in other words, interdisciplinary collaboration between research and clinical practice.

However, close ties between subjects and researchers would not, of themselves, be enough for optimum translation. What are also needed are the relevant structures which support, consolidate and advance the process. Within university medicine in Germany – which is organised at most locations in accordance with the “cooperation model” (in which universities have responsibility for research and teaching, and university hospitals for patient care) – such fixed structures take on a particular importance.

In 2018 the Faculty of Medicine at Münster started a process of selection and decision-making, the end of which is designed to be new centre-structures which will be run in cooperation with Münster University Hospital and will, above all, be innovative. The aim behind these University Research and Treatment Centres (URTCs for short) is to implement the research and treatment profile – and thereby the aim of translation – which the Faculty of Medicine and Münster University Hospital have.

The concept for implementing these URTCs in Münster has three phases; currently, the second is running. The URTCs described in more detail on the following pages were selected in phase one and are receiving start-up funding for two years from the Faculty of Medicine in order to create workable structures and to acquire external research funding.

Towards the objective in three stages: setting up the new URTCs

Whereas in the beginning, in the pilot phase, the foci with the strongest research behind them were identified and defined in an open, competitive process coupled with external assessments, the current – and second – phase is increasingly concerned with the establishment of structural measures on the part of the Faculty to strengthen the areas identified. In the concluding phase of consolidation, the Faculty will be strengthening and consolidating its strategy for appointing professors and its structural grants for the profile areas identified. While translational aspects of clinically relevant research represent an important development factor in the consolidation phase, the third phase will comprise the setting up of structures which combine clinical-translational research with structures relating to treatment at Münster University Hospital.

This three-stage plan will combine maximum flexibility at the beginning of the development process with increasing profile and structure formation at the Faculty of Medicine – a process recommended by the German Science and Humanities Council.

The final aim of this structural profile formation is to significantly improve the translational, biomedical research structure at the Medical Faculty in Münster. In putting this intention into practice, the Faculty can rely on a structural requirement which has proved its worth in an outstanding way, having begun at an early stage to define and establish research foci.