BMBF-funded inter- and transdisciplinary training along the 4Ds across institute and institutional boundaries

The Summer School within the Fraunhofer CIMD Young Scientists Program took place in Berlin from June 7 to 10, 2022.

© Fraunhofer CIMD | Dagmar Morath
Program of the Fraunhofer CIMD Summer School
© Fraunhofer CIMD | Dagmar Morath
Participants of the Fraunhofer CIMD Summer School listened to the presentation "CardioTEXTIL - Development of a Wearable for Clinical Use" by Christian Hofmann.Group Manager Medical Sensor Systems at Fraunhofer IIS.
© Fraunhofer CIMD | Dagmar Morath
Participants presented and discussed their own research projects during the poster session.

The four-day Summer School was oriented around the four major topics of Fraunhofer health research - Diagnostics, Data, Drugs and Devices, the „4D“. The field of participants consisted of PhD students and young postdocs from research institutions (Fraunhofer, Helmholtz), university hospitals (Charité, Leipzig, MHH, UMG), universities (Rostock, Tübingen, Potsdam, Leipzig, Leibniz, FU Berlin, BTU, JGU), a senior federal authority (PEI), and industry (Novartis). During the four days, the participants listened to numerous excellent presentations by internal and external experts, pitched their own projects, and discussed existing problems and developed ideas in interdisciplinary groups.


Day 1 of the Summer School was focused on the first »D« - Devices.

The Fraunhofer CIMD central office opened the Summer School by welcoming the participants and introducing the research cluster and the goals of the Young Scientists Program in more detail. This was followed by the introduction round and exchange, for which the participants first positioned themselves in the room according to their name, company location, and field of expertise and then discussed various getting-to-know questions in smaller groups.

Afterwards, Dr. Simone Brandstädter, research associate at the Institute of Psychology at the University of Heidelberg, gave the first lecture on successful interdisciplinary cooperation. In her lecture, she took a closer look at the typical challenges of interdisciplinary cooperation and their causes, and presented the conditions for successful interdisciplinary work as well as helpful strategies and tips for successful teamwork.

After a short lunch break, Christian Hofmann, Group Manager Medical Sensor Systems at Fraunhofer IIS, gave a presentation on the development of a wearable using the example of "CardioTEXTIL", a shirt with textile-integrated sensor technology that offers continuous monitoring of arrhythmias in medical quality.

Afterwards, the participants had the chance to present their own projects to each other in a poster session in the courtyard.

This was followed by the last presentation of the day by Manuel Grahammer, Managing Director at ABATON GmbH, on the development of a digital health app using the example of Abaton RA, a digital application for rheumatology.

To get to know each other better and to network, the first day of the Summer School was rounded off by a joint barbecue evening.

© Fraunhofer CIMD | Dagmar Morath
During the interdisciplinary group work, groups discussed how well interdisciplinary collaboration already works and what and how it should be improved.
© Fraunhofer CIMD | Dagmar Morath
Participants of the Fraunhofer CIMD Summer School 2022.

Day 2 of the Summer School was focused on the second »D« - Drugs.

This day started with a short presentation by three renowned physicians -Prof. Dr. Zuberbier,

Head of Allergy Consequence Research at the Clinic for Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology at the Charité, PD Dr. Irina Blumenstein, Head of the CED University outpatient clinic and CED study outpatient clinic at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main and Prof. Dr. Reinha rd Voll, Medical Director of the Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology at the Medical Center of the University of Freiburg – on the Medical Need in their respective fields. In the subsequent panel discussion, the participants had the opportunity to discuss their questions and ideas with the three lecturing physicians.

The second part of the poster session then followed in the courtyard.

After lunch, Prof. Dr. Marcus Maurer, Research Director of the Clinic for Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology at the Charité, introduced the participants to the field of clinical research with a focus on mast cell related diseases and reported on the transfer of new research findings from bench to bedside.

This was followed by the session on "Industrial Need", where three industry representatives - Dr. Claudia Jentzsch, Global Medical Affairs Director at Novartis Pharma AG, Dr. Holger Bartz, Medical Director at Janssen Austria and Sabine Bongardt, Head of Development Immuno-Dermatology at UCB BIOSCIENCES GmbH - explained the requirements and conditions of the market in short presentations. Then the participants had the opportunity to discuss their questions and ideas with the speakers in a panel discussion.

Afterwards, the day ended with a guided historical tour on the Charité campus.


Day 3 of the Summer School was focused on the third »D« - Data.

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Dirnagl, Director of the Department of Experimental Neurology at the Charité & Director of the QUEST Center for Transforming Biomedical Research at the Berlin Institute of Health, opened this day with a presentation on data integrity and biostatistics in translational research. This was followed by an excursus on alternatives for animal testing by Dr. Holger Cynis, Head of the Molecular Biotechnology Unit at Fraunhofer IZI, and Dr. Katherina Sewald, Head of the Department of Preclinical Pharmacology and In-vitro Toxicology at Fraunhofer ITEM. In his presentation, Dr. Cynis took a closer look at animal experiments in the preclinical phase, whereas Dr. Sewald discussed alternative methods.

Afterwards, the participants were invited to work on different questions in interdisciplinary groups. On the one hand, the interdisciplinary cooperation, its challenges, potentials, ideas for improvement and wishes were worked on and on the other hand, concrete project challenges, problems and ideas were worked out and discussed.

After the lunch break, the event continued with a presentation by Prof. Dr. Oliver Amft, Chair of Digital Health at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU), on the topic of "Human digital twins and wearables". This was followed by a talk by Dr. Markus Wenzel, Key Scientist Cognitive Computing and Computational Breast Care at Fraunhofer MEVIS, in which he gave participants an introduction to the topic of Deep Learning in medical imaging.

This talk was complemented by the last presentation of the day by Prof. Dr. Christoph Lippert, Chair of Digital Health and Machine Learning at the Hasso Plattner Institute, on the topic of "Quantitative genetics of heritable traits at the population level".

This third day was rounded off with a city tour by boat through Berlin.


Day 4 of the Summer School was focused on the fourth »D« - Diagnostics.

At the beginning of the fourth and last day of the Summer School, the participants had the opportunity to continue the interdisciplinary group work and to prepare their presentation of results.

Afterwards, Prof. Dr. Peter Loskill, Professor at University of Tübingen, Head of the Organ-on-Chip group at NMI Reutlingen, and Director of the 3R Center Tübingen, presented organ-on-chip and organoid technologies to the participants. After the lunch break, Prof. Dr. Thomas Illig, Deputy Director of the Institute of Human Genetics and Head of the Biobank at Hannover Medical School, gave the last lecture of the Summer School on "Next Generation Biobanking".

The four interdisciplinary groups then presented the results of their group work, in which they addressed challenges and problems in interdisciplinary collaboration and presented their own wishes and suggestions for improvement as well as project experiences and new ideas. With regard to interdisciplinary collaboration, communication, expectations, appreciation of the other disciplines, and regular interdisciplinary exchange were identified as areas in need of improvement. New project ideas were developed, for example, by transferring existing techniques/methods from one participant's project to the disciplines of the other participants and adapting them theoretically.

Overall, this Summer School was a successful continuation of Fraunhofer CIMD's promotion of young scientists from different institutions for networking and collaboration beyond their current projects and topics. The research cluster would like to thank the BMBF for funding the Summer School, all speakers for the exciting impulses and the participants for their diverse project insights and active participation.