German Center for Child and Adolescent Health (DZKJ)
Childhood and adolescence are key development periods in life. Events during this time will have life-long health percussions. Our goal is to ensure that children and adolescents at every stage of growth have optimal access to early detection of diseases and are treated in accordance to the latest medical findings.
To achieve this goal, it is necessary:
- To recognize and to take into account age-specific developments and risks
- To understand disease mechanisms
- To early diagnose diseases
- To develop new therapies
- To effectively prevent health impairments.
The founding of the DZKJ sustainably supports multidisciplinary national and international health research for the benefit of sick children and adolescents.
Partner Sites of the German Center for Child and Adolescent Health (DZKJ)
After more than ten years of planning and development in dialogue between the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (DGKJ) and other professional societies, the BMBF has issued the call for funding for the concept development phase for the establishment of the Center for Child and Adolescent Health (DZKJ) in July 2020.
In March 2021, the seven partner sites Berlin, Göttingen, Greifswald/Rostock, Hamburg, Leipzig/Dresden, München and Ulm were selected from a total of 23 site applications in a multi-stage competitive process by an international expert review panel. The partner sites include universities, university hospitals and non-university research institutions (Max Planck Institutes, Helmholtz Institutes, etc.) and form close regional, national, and international network. In recent months, the partner sites have jointly developed a DZKJ research program, which is currently undergoing an international review process.
GREIFSWALD / ROSTOCK
The Partner Site Greifswald/Rostock has
special expertise in community medicine,
psychosocial and mental health as well
as competences in telemedicine and eHealth.
The focus of the DZKJ location in Hamburg
is on research into rare genetic diseases.
The Partner Site Berlin has special
expertise in rare genetic diseases,
chronic inflammatory diseases and early
determinants of health and disease.
The Partner Site Göttingen has special
expertise in neuroscience.
LEIPZIG / DRESDEN
The Leipzig/Dresden site provides
scientific and clinical expertise in
epidemiology, environmental research,
immunology, infectious diseases, obesity,
and mental health.
The Partner Site Ulm focuses on
metabolism, hormones and obesity,
normal and aberrant development
of the immune system, and the
immuno-metabolic basis of
The Partner Site Munich contributes its
expertise in immunology and metabolism,
computer sciences, and cell- and gene therapy.
Contacts of the DZKJ Partner Sites
The Berlin site integrates basic, translational and clinical research in pediatrics and the life sciences. The focus is on rare genetic diseases, chronic inflammatory diseases, and early determinants of health and disease, as well as the use of systems medicine approaches for the discovery of disease mechanisms and novel therapeutic targets. Key infrastructures include innovative (single cell-) multi-omics technologies, disease-relevant model systems, large patient cohorts, artificial intelligence and digital health, as well as clinical trials in children and adolescents. Partners are the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medizin (MDC) in in the Helmholtz Association and the Deutsche Rheuma-Forschungszentrum (DRFZ) in the Leibniz Association.
Marcus A. Mall
Speaker Partner Site
Dr. Nora Kofoed-Branzk
Dr. Nancy Freitag
Coordination Partner Site
Main research areas oft the German Center for Child and Adolescent Health
In a translational research approach, the DZKJ connects basic research, clinical research and clinical application up to personalized therapy and prevention. The core element of the joint strategy is the bundling of existing clinical competencies and scientific expertise with a simultaneous close networking of research infrastructures.
The DZKJ research program will address projects on healthy development, genetic and pathophysiological aspects of rare and common diseases, predisposition and vulnerable phases of disease development, new diagnostic methods, new therapeutic approaches, and prevention measures. For this purpose, seven central DZKJ research foci have been selected, each coordinated by two sites.
The diagnosis and treatment of rare diseases, including undiagnosed diseases mostly of genetic origin, is an essential part of pediatric medicine and poses a particular challenge for society. We will develop a translational pipeline from up-front molecular diagnosis to unraveling of disease mechanisms and targeted treatment programs for specific rare disease entities.
Understanding the development of a healthy immune system, its response to challenge, e.g., by infection and its aberration in genetically defined immunodeficiencies is expected to highlight genes and pathways that are critical for common diseases such as autoinflammation and allergy. This will not only open new paths for endotyping complex diseases and stratifying therapies but also allow for the discovery of new therapeutic targets and the design of precision medicine.
Basic science on understanding molecular, structural, and functional networks of the CNS will identify key factors for physiological development and manifestation of neurological diseases. Since the CNS has innumerable interactions with all organ systems of the human body, studies will include the influence of the CNS on non-neurological diseases and vice versa. The focus is on novel CNS-specific and cross-organ diagnostic and treatment to halt, repair or prevent CNS damage at an early stage to avert lifelong residual CNS damage and disabilities.
Early onset of metabolic disturbances and obesity causes a high burden of disease in the long run. Research into the etiology and molecular mechanisms are expected to provide novel targets for therapeutic intervention and measures for targeted prevention programs. This includes understanding obesity as a multisystem disease with mutual interactions with other organ systems, particularly the immune system, neuroregulatory networks, adipose tissue, and metabolism. Novel evidence-based treatment approaches and their standardization in pediatric care will be developed and promoted.
The multiple internal and external influences on the development of children provide the basis for health, as well as disease susceptibility and altered development. In this research area, we will address these ‘exposome’ influences as health risks emerging from the interplay between predisposition and our changing environment, identify risk and resilience factors and unravel mechanisms underlying the development of common disease with origin in childhood.
The joint research platform with the German Center for Mental Health (DZPG) addresses key issues of mental health in somatically ill patients and somatic issues in mentally ill patients. The DZKJ focus is on psychosocial aspects and mental health in somatic diseases. This program greatly interacts with several core research areas of both DZKJ and DZPG including, e.g., CNS development, Immunometabolism and Community medicine.
Community medicine covers a research continuum, starting with epidemiological questions (investigation of morbidity, risk and protective factors), epidemiological analyzes of care (e.g. care needs, utilization and access to care), development of innovative care and prevention concepts as well as the implementation of the concepts in real healthcare settings and the transfer into clinical practice and the regular healthcare system. The Community medicine research program also considers questions of social justice and participation and includes patient-relevant endpoints as well as psychosocial and socioeconomic parameters.
About our academy
A central concern of the DZKJ is the promotion of excellent junior staff in the field of child and adolescent health. To this end, the DZKJ Academy bundles a wide variety of programs for scientists and physicians and promotes exchange between institutions for career development and to support research programs.