Charité accepts new responsibilities at the European level

Currently in the fifth year of its existence, the European University Hospital Alliance (EUHA), whose membership comprises nine leading European institutions including Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, has become a non-profit organization. In addition to the pursuit of new goals, the new status entails the adoption of an advisory role at the European level. Guided by the EUHA’s motto ‘Leading by Doing’, the partner institutions used the eighth Members’ Assembly to launch more pioneering initiatives. One of these, a European Nursing Network to be coordinated by Charité, will be dedicated to continued improvements in patient care. In the field of research, the EUHA members agreed a set of common values and signed the Sorbonne Declaration, an undertaking by the international community to promote free access to research data and drive innovation. The EUHA’s decision to register as an intentional non-profit organization was taken at a relatively early stage in its own history. Its new status will enable the organization to enter into legally binding contracts, submit joint bids for EU funding and act as an independent entity. Today’s Members’ Assembly, which was held online and hosted by the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, brought together the CEOs of the EUHA’s nine founding members. “The partnership which exists between the EUHA university hospitals has proved extremely valuable over the past few years. Particularly in terms of pandemic management efforts, it was incredibly helpful to be able to contact colleagues in other European countries at short notice and in confidence to exchange ideas and share information which was critical in an acute crisis situation,” says Prof. Dr. Heyo K. Kroemer, Charité’s Chief Executive Officer. The partner institutions were not alone in benefiting from the sharing of information. Even the EU Commission drew on the alliance’s expertise for advice during the pandemic. The alliance of European university hospitals plans to set an example in the field of research and teaching. Emphasizing the EUHA’s enormous potential in this field, Prof. Dr. Axel R. Pries, Dean of Charité, says: “We want to work together over the coming years to develop important growth areas. In the field of cell and gene therapy, for instance, this will include the foundation of a European institute dedicated to the development of cell therapies, the design and development of a health data platform – the European Health Data Space – and the promotion of European Reference Networks for rare diseases. Other plans include common curricula and training opportunities offered in conjunction with EUHA partner institutions.” The EUHA’s efforts in this regard also extend to the formation of a network of nursing professionals, a development entirely in keeping with the organization’s motto of ‘Leading by Doing’. In line with the alliance’s focus on specific challenges faced within the field of academic medicine, the nine partner institutions have today launched the EUHA Nursing Network. The network, which will be coordinated by Charité, will enable nursing managers from EUHA hospitals to come together on a regular basis in order to share ideas and actively shape the future of the profession. The development of intercultural competence will be given a central role, alongside employer attractiveness and staff retention. “This sharing of ideas is extremely helpful and important. After all, we all face the same challenges. We can learn a great deal from our European partners, including in the area of qualification pathways, the academization of nursing and the development of strategies aimed at making the profession more attractive,” says Judith Heepe, Coordinator of the EUHA Nursing Network and Charité’s Nursing Director. Demographic change and the resulting shortages of qualified staff are pressing issues all across Europe. “The pandemic has certainly highlighted that, for university hospitals to function, we need staff from all of the professional groups,” says Prof. Kroemer. He adds: “At Charité, we strive to implement interprofessional collaborative practice, and nursing staff play a crucial role in this regard.” Staff exchange programs and nursing research will continue to support efforts to ensure the European nursing and care sector is built on solid foundations. The signing of the international Sorbonne Declaration at today’s EUHA meeting was another landmark decision – a commitment to promoting free access to research data in order to create a culture which is supportive of responsible research and innovation. The Sorbonne Declaration was launched approximately a year ago. On the initiative of Charité and the EUHA members’ research deans, the alliance has now joined the existing list of signatories to the declaration, nine higher education associations which include the Association of American Universities, the League of European Research Universities and the German U15. Overall, a total of around 200 research-intensive universities are openly committed to optimizing the sharing of research data in the interest of developing new knowledge and ensuring that knowledge derived from research can benefit all of society. “The shared use of research data, which is based on a structured approach to their management, is of major importance in building transparency and trust and has enormous value in terms of data reuse and knowledge generation. This is particularly relevant in medical research, where many questions – such as those pertaining to rare diseases and precision medicine – can only be addressed by pooling data from different institutions,” says Prof. Dr. Ulrich Dirnagl, EUHA working group co-lead, founder of the BIH QUEST Center at Charité and Head of Charité’s Department of Experimental Neurology. In most areas of medical research, it is still not common practice to make the data sets underpinning one’s publications widely available. By signing the Declaration, the EUHA’s members commit to promoting the sharing of data at both the political and institutional levels and making this an integral part of their future institutional development. The institutions are taking this step in order to prepare for an increasingly digitalized, cooperative and transparent research environment, the sort of research environment already apparent in large projects such as the European Open Science Cloud and the ‘Kommission für Open Science’ (Open Science Commission). In Germany, this development is also guided by the aims of the federal government’s Medical Informatics Initiative (MII) and the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI). The end of today’s meeting also marked the end of the current EUHA Presidency by Sweden’s Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm. The Presidency, which rotates among the EUHA’s members every six months, was handed over to the Vall d’Hebron Barcelona Hospital Campus in Barcelona, Spain. Read More 

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