2.2 million Euros in funding for Junior Scientist Research Centre ReproTrack.MS

"Almost one in ten couples in Germany is involuntarily childless. This is a serious and often painful burden for those affected“, says Federal Minister of Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger – and aims to contribute to the clarification of causes and optimisation of medical care through innovative collaborative research and support for young researchers. Her ministry supports the establishment of interdisciplinary early-career centres for reproductive health at five German locations that succeeded in a competitive process. One of the facilities, focusing on male infertility, is being established in Münster. The initial funding period will be three years and may be extended if the project is successful; international young researchers from natural sciences and medicine are set to begin collaborative work as early as January.

Reproductive health has long been neglected, and the field of research has been insufficiently supported, according to Stark-Watzinger. "We want to change that," she explained her decision for the new centres. An international expert panel participated in the selection of university hospitals – besides Münster, these include Hamburg, Jena, Leipzig, and Ulm. They will be supported with a total of 11 million euros over the next three years, with 2.2 million allocated to Münster. A further three-year funding phase can follow a successful interim evaluation.

The centres will address women's health and pregnancy, male reproductive capability, the preservation of fertility for all genders – for instance, in cases of cancer and endometriosis – or the impact of overweight on sexual and reproductive health. The focus spans both physical and medical aspects, as well as psychosocial and medical-ethical issues. "Our goal is to build a high-quality and internationally competitive research landscape on this socially important topic. We particularly rely on scientists in the early stages of their careers to strengthen the research field sustainably in the long term," says the Federal Minister of Research.

Münster is delighted over this success. "The funding approval for our project ReproTrack.MS confirms and fuels our long-term strategy to continuously develop our location as a beacon in reproductive research," says Prof. Frank Tüttelmann, who coordinates the project with his colleagues Prof. Sabine Kliesch, Prof. Nina Neuhaus, and Prof. Timo Strünker. The eight participating research groups at the University and University Hospital of Münster focus on elucidating the causes of male infertility and improving its diagnosis and treatment. "Many research findings from Münster have already been applied clinically," says Prof. Strünker. ReproTrack.MS will contribute to strengthening the location.

In Münster, ten emerging young talents – five in basic research and five in the clinical field – will form the new centre and collaborate closely. "This interplay between science and clinic is extremely important to us and has been a key success factor in the past," emphasises Prof. Kliesch. In a hybrid selection symposium conducted with the support of an internationally composed advisory board, "High Potentials" were already identified at the end of October. "We are convinced that we offer the emerging scientific talent in Münster the best conditions for a scientific career," summarises Prof. Neuhaus.

For more information click here (press release of the Medical Faculty - only German).