The Joachim Herz Stiftung launched its funding area of “Medicine” at the end of 2016. Since then, funding in the area of medicine has been focused on northern Germany. As in other areas of research supported by the Foundation, the focus is on interdisciplinary approaches and talented young scientists. Specifically, the Joachim Herz Stiftung currently supports three projects in this area:
Biomedical Physics of Infection
This project, which is based at Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), is focused on infection research. In turn, it comprises seven subprojects that take the form of interdisciplinary partnerships. In other words, at least one researcher from the UKE and one researcher from DESY (a Research Center of the Helmholtz Association) are involved in each subproject. One of the research objectives behind the partnerships between the medical and physics researchers at the UKE is to develop new therapeutic approaches in order to treat antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
Research into Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (Childhood Dementia)
At the heart of this project is research into a rare condition called neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL), which is also known as “childhood dementia.” This inherited metabolic disorder is characterized by the progressive death of nerve cells.
Affected children exhibit a gradual process of degeneration that leads to blindness, cognitive decline, motor disorders, and epileptic seizures, with symptoms starting at about the age of eight. Before they turn 20, NCL patients reach a stage of the disease in which they have lost almost all motor and cognitive skills. Many patients do not reach the age of 30, and the condition is currently classed as incurable.
The Joachim Herz Stiftung is supporting the NCL-Stiftung (NCL Foundation) over a three-year period. This support funds an NCL research award, a two-year postdoctoral position, and an annual NCL research congress in Hamburg.
The Joachim Herz Stiftung supports the Zentrum für Kinder- und Jugendrheumatologie (Center for Pediatric Rheumatology). The Center’s research project is concentrated on juvenile systemic scleroderma (“hard skin”), an orphan, autoimmune disease that is incredibly rare and also incurable.
The project seeks to explore the progression of the disease, strengthen research efforts in this area, and make its findings available to a wider audience.