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A medical campus for Kiel

University medicine in Kiel is getting its own research and teaching campus for the first time - with research laboratories, lecture halls, spacious open areas and place for meetings. The planned Centre for Integrative Systems Medicine (ZISMed) primarily has the future of medicine in focus.

© Faculty of Medicine

Three new research buildings and a new lecture hall, together with renovated existing buildings, will in future make up the new CAU medical campus at the Kiel UKSH premises.

"At the moment, we have the situation that our researchers are spread across 40 different buildings and premises. In the future, they will all be concentrated in three new buildings and the converted building of internal medicine on the campus," explained Professor Christoph Röcken. As Vice Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Kiel University, the director of the Institute of Pathology has been involved in the construction project since 2012. However, it’s not only that new buildings are being built and existing ones revamped. "We are implementing a master plan, which is based on an overall urban development concept." In the future, there should be uniform architecture, which makes the campus tangible for students and researchers, and is clearly distinguishable from the healthcare. For Professor Ulrich Stephani, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, this development is long overdue: "The Faculty of Medicine only consists of clinics and institutes, but we don’t have our own campus, where students can sit down with professors and discuss things with each other. We want to create a campus feeling, a physically tangible location, which is formative for the further life."

The construction of this new research and teaching campus is already in full swing. The first new building (FNB1), the future Quincke Research Centre, is almost finished. The corner building on Feldstraße marks the entrance to the new campus. Work will already begin later this year on the buildings behind this, the new Research Building 2 (FNB2) and the Centre for Integrative Systems Medicine (ZISMed). All construction work should be completed by 2026, including remodelling of the current Department of Internal Medicine I building into the central teaching and administrative building, with a new lecture hall and study campus.

The modernisation of medical research and teaching at the CAU will be financed mostly by the state of Schleswig-Holstein, which will provide a total of €86.9 million for construction work, as well as €9.5 million for infrastructure measures over the coming years. Additional funding from the federal government has been obtained to enable the construction of ZISMed, the third research building. "This third building should focus on the area of digital medicine," explained Röcken. The goals of the new centre are to gather structured, multi-dimensional patient data, to develop methods for early detection of chronic diseases and for model-based treatment selection, and to discover mechanisms of action across diseases.

"Initially, research in the ZISMed will focus on chronic inflammatory bowel and skin diseases, and on neurodegenerative diseases. The Faculty of Medicine at the CAU has already gained an international reputation for its achievements related to these groups of diseases," emphasised Ulrich Stephani. One focus of the research is on the detection of preliminary disease stages, from which the respective diseases can develop. The hope is to find ways to intervene at an early stage in the progression of diseases, and thus to prevent the full onset of the disease.

The new building for ZISMed is associated with the consolidation and concentration of significant research activities on campus under one roof. 15 working groups, with a total of 192 employees, will be researching and teaching in the new building. This also includes the medical IT specialist Professor Björn Bergh with his working group. "For example, we cooperate very closely with bioinformatics working groups from the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, which will also move into the ZISMed building. It is helpful if we are also physically closer together." Also advantageous is the close proximity to computer resources, as data centres are planned for both the ZISMed as well as the neighbouring FB2.

"A goal of our work is to link and merge different data sets," explained Bergh. Specifically, for instance, healthcare data which is recorded within the clinic should be linked with other data sources, for example with data from biobanks or data collected in research projects. The intelligent linking of data is an essential building block for artificial intelligence (AI) processes. "In medicine, we don’t only envisage a singe AI application, but countless possible fields of application. They differ in terms of the kind of data that they require. We are developing the platform, the information architecture, which - regardless of the field of application - will enable us to find an AI method, make it capable of learning, and ultimately also lead to the best possible clinical application."

Autor: Kerstin Nees

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