Best career opportunities for researching clinicians in Schleswig-Holstein

Doctors with an interest in research enjoy optimal conditions for a career as a clinician scientist in Schleswig-Holstein. Together, the Faculty of Medicine at Kiel University (CAU), Lübeck Medical School at the University of Lübeck (UzL) and the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH) have established four training programmes, each with a different focus. The programmes enable structured specialist training, ensure clinical and scientific qualification, and at the same time offer opportunity for research. With these programmes, university medicine in Schleswig-Holstein is tackling the enormous demand for researchers and clinician scientists. “The security of being able to plan further specialist training after completing medical studies, in combination with protected research activity, is a good basis for attracting medical graduates to research again,“ said Professor Ulrich Stephani, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the CAU and UKSH board member for research and teaching.

The driving force behind this development in Schleswig-Holstein is the recently-approved Cluster of Excellence „Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation“ (PMI), which has the promotion of early career researchers firmly anchored in its research agenda. The goal of the cluster is to put scientific advances from fundamental research into practice for patients with chronic inflammatory diseases. Clinician scientists are essential for this, who on the one hand research at an internationally-competitive level, and at the same time have a foothold in the clinic. They can take urgent clinical questions into the laboratory for investigation, identify the clinical potential of fundamental discoveries, and thus shape the future of medicine.

“Precision medicine, i.e. the customised diagnosis and treatment of diseases, will continue to gain importance in the future. Pioneering work has been achieved in this field over the past ten years in Schleswig-Holstein,” says Prof. Dr Jens Scholz, chairman of the board of the UKSH. “With our constant efforts towards offering our colleagues the best working conditions, the UKSH will make its contribution towards the Cluster of Excellence’s ongoing successful work. Just as we are setting new standards with our master building plan in hospital construction, we want to provide crucial impulses for the future of medicine with Precision Health in Schleswig-Holstein.”

In addition to the training programme offered by the Cluster of Excellence PMI, three more programmes with innovative topics will begin in 2019, with support from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Else Kröner-Fresenius Foundation (EKFS): the Clinician Scientist Program in Evolutionary Medicine (CSEM), the Clinician Scientist School Lübeck, which will explore the interactions between the nervous system, metabolism and immune system, and the Else Kröner Research College Kiel, focussed on the „gut-brain axis – relevance to inflammation medicine and neurodegeneration“.

Such models for the promotion of early career researchers can also be found elsewhere. „But the special aspect in Kiel and Lübeck is that the chamber of Physicians in Schleswig-Holstein (Ärztekammer) has been involved from the very beginning, and accepts this combination of medical speciality training and structured clinical research,“ explained cluster spokesperson Professor Stefan Schreiber, Director of the Department of Internal Medicine I at USKH Kiel, and Director of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology at Kiel University. There is a huge demand for clinician scientists. „That’s why we offer a rigorous and attractive training programme,“ said Schreiber. „The aim is to recruit clinicians during their specialist training, and provide them with the necessary experience and skills they require to build and maintain a career in clinical research.“ The young physicians can expect comprehensive training in innovative clinical, imaging and fundamental research, for which they are partially exempted from healthcare duties. These protected research times are fixed within a modular curriculum, which is complemented by a mentoring programme, the teaching of key skills as well as preparation for leadership roles. Over a six-year period, the clinician scientists alternate between research and clinical modules. At the end of the curriculum is the admission to the medical specialist examination, and ideally also habilitation.

In addition, the Cluster of Excellence PMI clinician scientist programme also supports the careers of established researchers who have completed their specialist training, so-called senior clinician scientists, who may already have a leadership role at the clinic. They also get protected time for research, and thus have the opportunity to pursue their own research projects, and to establish a junior research group.
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Photos are available to download:
In the clinician scientist programmes, young doctors with an interest in translational research get top training and interdisciplinary supervision. Photo: Sascha Klahn, © Uni Kiel
To ensure that research is not limited to evenings and weekends, clinician scientists in the structured training programmes at the CAU, UzL and UKSH get protected time for research, when they are exempted from healthcare duties. Photo: Oliver Franke © IKMB

Press contact:
Kerstin Nees
Tel.: (040) 8320998, E-mail:

The Cluster of Excellence „Inflammation at Interfaces“ has been funded since 2007 by the Excellence Initiative of the German Government and the federal states with a total budget of 68 million Euros. The second phase of funding finishes on 31 December 2018. In 2019, it continues with a new research orientation and funding through the Excellence Strategy. The aim of the new Cluster of Excellence “Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation” (PMI) is to draw on the multifaceted research approach to chronic inflammatory diseases of barrier organs and transfer this interdisciplinarity to healthcare. Around 300 members from eight institutes at four locations are involved: Kiel (Kiel University, University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Muthesius University, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN)), Lübeck (University of Lübeck, UKSH), Plön (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology) and Borstel (Research Center Borstel – Leibniz Lung Center).

Cluster of Excellence „Inflammation at Interfaces“
Scientific Office, Head: Dr habil. Susanne Holstein
Postal address: Christian-Albrechts-Platz 4, 24118 Kiel, Germany
Contact: Sonja Petermann
Tel.: +49 (0)431 880-4850, Fax: +49 (0)431 880-4894
Twitter: I@I@medinflame

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