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Annual Report 2020

Allied in medical care, research, and teaching

Everyone pulls together

Allied in medical care, research,
and teaching

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Generating knowledge and sharing knowledge: Heidelberg is committed to this motto. Our university hospital is active in numerous regional and statewide collaborations. The goal is to achieve improved patient care through innovative research and a close exchange with other experts.

Baden-Württemberg is an internationally renowned place to come for good medical care. Inform yourself about the diverse activities of the UKHD with Tübingen, Ulm, und Freiburg – the so-called 4U. We spoke with Prof. Dr. Ingo Autenrieth, Chief Medical Director, about statewide collaborations and tasks in the region.

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The interdisciplinary diversity and expertise in the Rhine-Neckar Region will become more powerful and effective with the Heidelberg Mannheim Health & Life Science Alliance. Learn more about the goals and challenges. Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Kräusslich, Dean, reports to us on what is important in this major project.

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4U – Strong partners for strong medicine

By bundling all its forces, Baden-Wuerttemberg is to be made even stronger and more resilient in crises.

By the end of 2022, the state government will provide funding to the cooperative alliance of the university hospitals of Heidelberg, Freiburg, Tübingen and Ulm – the 4U – and their medical faculties in the amount of 80 million euros.

> 350,000


2 million


10 million


Linked statewide

  • Center for Personalized Medicine (ZPM)

  • Center for Innovative Care (ZIV)

  • Center for Rare Diseases (ZSE)

  • Network of Excellence for teaching in medicine

Center for Personalized Medicine (ZPM)


  • Implementing personalized medicine in healthcare and ensuring appropriate reimbursement by health insurance funds
  • Development of a care network that improves care for advanced cancer patients as a first step
  • Standardized and quality-assured diagnostics as well as harmonization and further development of the Molecular Tumor Boards (MTBs) and Molecular Inflammation Boards (MEBs)
  • Establishment of the common data exchange platform bwHealthCloud
  • Roll-out from regional level to all care levels and federal level (DNPM)

Center for Innovative Care (ZIV)


  • Improving care through digital medicine
  • Development, technical integration, and implementation of digital solutions to allow patients to participate in preventive care, treatment, and follow-up care
  • Use of the data collected for research purposes
  • Versatile incorporation of processes and data in the development of new treatment and prevention concepts

Center for Rare Diseases (ZSE)


  • Creating awareness for rare diseases
  • Accelerating diagnosis and the finding of experts
  • Reliably structured national and international networks of specialists, patient registers, and self-help groups
  • Integrating theses issues into basic and advanced training
  • Improving the recruiting of young professionals
  • Translating research into clinical applications

Network of Excellence for teaching in medicine


  • Network of medical faculties Heidelberg, Mannheim, Freiburg, Tübingen and Ulm
  • Quality assurance and improvement in teaching and examinations through the development of binding guidelines
  • Harmonization of the standards with the aid of the common use of existing expertise and resources

The graphic overview shows state initiatives started in the 4U University Medicine Baden-Württemberg competence network.

Interview with Prof. Dr. Ingo Autenrieth, Chief Medical Director and Chair of the Management Board

If we all pull together, then much can be done! To what extent does this apply to Baden-Wuerttemberg as a healthcare sector and what role does Heidelberg University Hospital play here?

With a tradition of centuries, Heidelberg University Medicine stands for top-level patient care and medical research. This alone is not enough for us: For us, it is important to share generated knowledge in the interests of everyone and to create transparency about what we do. For many years now, our physicians and researchers have been active in statewide initiatives and centers. Now the interlinking of Heidelberg University Hospital with the university hospitals of Freiburg, Tübingen and Ulm is given additional support and placed on a further-reaching footing with the foundation of Universitätsmedizin Baden-Württemberg e. V. This is a unique opportunity for our German state and the participating university hospitals, to assume a leading role in Germany and in Europe.

What is important for the success of these statewide activities?

Excellence, critical mass and networks are key factors in medical research. This can be impressively explained using the special example of rare diseases an personalized medicine. The case numbers for rare diseases are too low as a rule, to conduct clinical trials – the driving force behind new therapeutic approaches. With a statewide network on the other hand, we can reach patient numbers that would enable meaningful insights for diagnostic purposes and treatment. As one center acting alone, it would be very difficult to obtain these insights. And this is just one of multiple statewide initiatives with the most varied focal points, which once again make it clear that networks and working together can lead to pioneering achievements. This potential must be fully leveraged. We are pleased to be an important part of this process with our university medicine.

As part of a visionary concept, the merger of the Heidelberg and the Mannheim University Hospitals into one major medical center was reviewed. What opportunities would the merger offer?

In the event of a merger, among other things, 1,991 beds in Heidelberg and 1,352 beds in Mannheim would lead to a hospital round than 3,300 beds. This would allow even more clinical and scientific experience to be pooled, larger studies to be carried out and further professional specialization to be developed, bringing even more quality and safety for patients. This would be an excellent starting point for forming further centers of competence and clinical-scientific specialization and improving care for people in our region and beyond. The state of Baden-Württemberg could use this to develop the region and the state into a leading center of university medicine and, together with the Heidelberg Mannheim Health and Life Science Alliance, into the leading location for the healthcare industry in Europe.

„For us, it is important to share generated knowledge in the interests of all people and to create transparency. For many years, our employees have been active in statewide initiatives and centers. Now the interlinking of university hospitals in Baden-Württemberg is being placed on a further-reaching footing.“

Prof. Dr. Ingo Autenrieth

Chief Medical Director, Chair of the Management Board Heidelberg University Hospital

Innovation campus from science and business

With an established concentration of life-science research institutions, the Rhine-Neckar Region offers the best prerequisites for a unique cooperation between the health sciences and the life sciences. The Heidelberg Mannheim Health & Life Science Alliance is building on this potential. It is intended to become a pacemaker for innovation and top-level research and optimally translate research successes into better patient care and economic success. The aim is to accelerate the transfer of knowledge and technology and to apply the latest research findings directly into practice. This will benefit patients in terms of therapy, diagnostics and prevention, as well as the region as a whole as a strong location for the healthcare industry.




Life science partners

> 400

enterprises in the healthcare sector


  • Common initiatives of university facilities and four non-university life sciences institutions
  • Generating added value:
    • common top engagements of researchers
    • strengthening and developing areas of excellence
    • supporting junior researchers through cross-institutional programs
  • Accelerating the translation of research results into health care
  • Intensifying the transfer of insights into technical applications by business and industry

Life Science Partners

The new leading industry

The Heidelberg Mannheim Health & Life Science Alliance is intended to develop the potential of the Rhine-Neckar region into a leading international cluster in the life sciences, healthcare industry and medical technology. The Alliance is embedded in an economic environment comprising internationally engaged large enterprises and a dense population of more than 400 small and medium-sized enterprises in healthcare management. A new industry for innovative technologies and processes is intended to be created based on numerous collaborations between life sciences and enterprises.

Interview with Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Kräusslich, Dean

The big dream of the region is a so-called health valley of life sciences. What is the plan?

With its excellent Heidelberg University, its two medical faculties, and leading national and international research centers, the Rhine-Neckar Region has a unique research and development network for medicine and the healthcare industry and for the life sciences. All of these institutions are very successful, but can still work together much better in certain core areas. This potential in Heidelberg, Mannheim and the region is now to be strengthened and expanded. On the initiative of and in coordination with the state of Baden-Württemberg, the founding partners have therefore decided to establish a unique research alliance. The aim is to create a joint research area with its own governance, to which university and non-university medical and life science institutions in the region belong and which can integrate further institutions beyond the region. 

What can this research alliance accomplish, that individual facilities cannot?

On the one hand, it is intended to make the path from research to industry significantly faster and more efficient and thus become a pacesetter for innovation and transfer. In this way, it can attract technology drivers as well as companies in the healthcare industry and life science companies and get new start-ups off the ground. Secondly, the alliance should become a magnet for the world's brightest minds. All partners are already attractive to excellent international scientists at all career levels; how much more attractive will it be to be able to shape research and development in the alliance of strong partners. And thirdly, joint technology platforms and support measures can be established in the alliance, offering the best opportunities to all scientists in the region without institutional boundaries. In the research portfolio, we focus on the one hand on the existing areas of excellence and profile, and on the other hand, the topics of the future are to be jointly identified and developed into areas of excellence in the medium term. Translation and transfer of research into application at this intensity and density will make our region even more successful economically and make this healthcare venue part of the internationally top group of medical sites.

At what point are you with respect to the foundation of this alliance?

The establishment of the alliance requires a coordinated and integrative strategy with all important partners from science, industry and politics. To this end, the founding partners, Heidelberg University with its medical and life science institutions, the university hospitals in Heidelberg and Mannheim, the DKFZ, the ZI, the EMBL and the MPImF, have jointly drafted and agreed on a binding Memorandum of Understanding that sets out the main objectives and their planned implementation. On this basis, the legal and other requirements for the establishment of the alliance are currently being carefully examined and we plan to establish the alliance as a legally independent joint subsidiary of the founding partners by early 2022. At the same time, the state has approved an initial generous grant for the Health & Life Science Alliance Heidelberg Mannheim Innovation Campus, which will enable excellent starting conditions for the alliance. With a grand vision, we then want to develop the region within ten years as a leading location not only for the life sciences and health research, but also in parallel as a business location of international standing with new and highly qualified jobs in these fields. 

„All partners of the research alliance are already attractive for excellent scientists. How much more attractive will it be to be able to shape the future in the alliance of strong partners. The translation and transfer of research into applications in this intensity and density will also enhance research internationally.“

Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Kräusslich

Dean of the Medical Faculty at Heidelberg