YPL 2015 Day 1




(Peter Himsel)


IAMP Young Physician Leaders, 2015
Berlin, Germany

DAY 1: 9 October 2015

The 2015 cohort of IAMP Young Physician Leaders (YPL) convened in Berlin today. Nineteen YPL from 17 countries were selected from nominations by IAMP member academies. Although the 19 young physicians  cover a range of expertise, from intensive care and anaesthesiology, to cardiac surgery to psychiatry, they all have one thing in common: they are grappling with the issues of increasing management and leadership duties without having had formal training in that area.

To address this shortcoming, they cohort will participate in an interactive leadership training workshop on 10 and 11 October. To develop ties between the members of the group and introduce them to the city of Berlin and its healthcare and research institutions, the first day was spent on two site visits – to the Berlin Buch, a technology park featuring research centres and facilities, small start-up companies developing science-based products, and the German company Eckert and Ziegler AG, one of the world's largest providers of isotope technology for medical, scientific and industrial use.

Indeed, Eckert and Ziegler often assists young start-up companies on the site by providing venture capital. Other assistance comes in the form of tax-breaks for office and laboratory space – with many of the building on the site built with the support of the European Union.

In particular, the YPL heard about the efforts of the Max Delbrück Centre (MDC), which employs about 1,000 scientists and 500 support staff. The centre focuses on molecular medicine, explained Christina Quensel, CEO of the company that manages the Berlin Buch campus and who guided the YPL around the Berlin Buch campus. Molecular medicine focuses on molecular pathways in normal cellular development or in the case of diseases. And rather than working in ‘silos’ on topics such as cancer or heart disease, a systems biology approach is used that ensures that links are made across research groups.

The group then received an overview of the Experimental and Clinical Research Centre (ECRC). Founded in 2007, the ECRC is a collaboration between the MDC and the Charité, Berlin’s leading hospital, explained Cornelia Maurer, the ECRC programme manager, who added that the aim of the centre is to give a space to clinicians to carry out research, for at least 50% of their time. Indeed, most of the centre’s 17 research groups are led by clinical scientists.

Among the facilities available on the campus, as well as an outpatient clinic, is a screening centre that looks for molecules with specific activities from among a library of diverse compounds, an animal house (with a new one being built), an imaging centre that includes a 7 Tesla (high resolution) magnetic resonance scanner – for experimental use only and one of only four in Germany, and – also currently being built – a robotic liquid nitrogen facility for the long-term storage of biological samples.

For the afternoon, the YPL group transferred to the headquarters of Bayer, the multinational agrochemical and pharmaceutical company. The Bayer Foundation is a sponsor of the IAMP YPL programme.

At Bayer, hosted in their new building, the CoLaborator, the YPL were introduced to various aspects of Bayer through the experiences of young members of their team. These ‘peer’ presentations included a look into the search for new anticancer drugs, and the development of a multi-language website and smartphone app that provides information on tuberculosis – an increasing problem in Germany where the disease has been absent, but where many migrants infected with TB but with unknown treatment histories are now arriving.

Three YPLs also presented their experiences – Fazle Rabbi Chowdhury from Bangladesh, Veranja Liyanapathirana from Sri Lanka, and Flavia Senkubuge from South Africa.

The session finished with a look at entrepreneurial start-up companies – space for good ideas is provided by the Bayer in the CoLaborator. These included an app for identifying and linking to patients willing to participate in clinical trials. Indeed, the theme of capturing feedback from patients and clinicians to researchers, who could then potentially redirect their research and development focus, was covered in many of the discussions.

The day ended with dinner hosted by the Bayer Foundation, where Thimo Schmitt-Lord, executive director of Bayer Foundations, confirmed that Bayer were always looking for novel ideas that can enhance patient-clinician-researcher links, and that funding could be available to take the most promising ideas forward.