Visiting Scientist

We invite scientists from other countries to visit our department and take part in our research, teaching and professional development activities. We hope to learn from their experiences and their ideas. Visiting scholars stand to benefit from a stay with us, improving academic support services and health care systems upon their return to their home countries. Read more:

Introducing Our Department

The Department of General Practice – Family Medicine at the Universität Marburg was founded in 1990. Since then it has become one of the leading research departments for primary care in Germany. There are currently three professors appointed to the department: Annette Becker, MD, MPH (Chair), Norbert Donner-Banzhoff, MD, MHSc. and Stefan Bösner MD, MHSc.

We are committed to a model of patient-centered care that combines scientific evidence with patients and professionals working cooperatively to improve health. We regard continuity of care as key to chronic disease management. Only within a strong primary care system can the treatment of chronic disease be coordinated successfully. In this setting, the biomedical, psychological and social perspectives are joined to enable a full understanding of the problems presented by consulting patients.

Medical Education

Our department oversees undergraduate teaching in general practice, prevention and health promotion as well as an introductory course on the profession of medicine at the Universität Marburg. We also provide postgraduate (residency) training for future general practitioners / family physicians and to continuing medical education (CME).

We coordinate rotations in general practice for the Universität Marburg Medical School. These rotations are mandatory for all medical students. We are currently working with more than 80 doctors offices in central Hesse. Each practice has to meet specific requirements as a teaching-certified office. Teachers in these offices participate regularly in training seminars, and their work is supervised and evaluated on a regular basis.

Students currently in their general practice rotation participate in seminars covering doctor-patient-communication, diagnostic strategies, common symptoms and findings, chronic care, polypharmacy and rational prescribing. We also coordinate an interdisciplinary course on prevention and health promotion for students in their second clinical year.

Members of our department teach courses on the care of the elderly, health care systems and economics, palliative care and pain management. There are elective courses on research skills, differential diagnosis, and cases in general practice / family medicine for pre-clinical students, global health and sports medicine. The coordinator for these teaching activities is Professor Stefan Bösner.

In cooperation with the clinical trials unit (KKS) we also offer a postgraduate program in clinical epidemiology (Clinical Evaluation). Professor Norbert Donner-Banzhoff has been program director since its inception in 1997. This was the first program of its kind in Germany.

For the University Hospital in Marburg we coordinate a training scheme (residency) for general practice. Future GPs complete three years of rotations before moving on to complete two years in a teaching practice (five years are the minimum requirement in Germany). We also host one of two coordination centers (Kompetenzzentren) to support vocational training schemes in the state of Hesse.

Although within our department no clinical services are provided, academic teachers typically hold clinical appointments in community practices in the Marburg region. In their practices they also provide clinical teaching at the undergraduate and postgraduate level.


Our department was among the four centers for primary care research supported by a special grant from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in 2004–2010. Over the last 10 years we have initiated five clinical studies with more than 1,000 patients; three of these were cluster randomized clinical trials. We work with a network of around 300 research practices, many of which also contribute to our teaching. Our work has resulted in several research awards and publications in international peer reviewed journals.

Current and published work spans a wide range of research topics and designs, with particular emphasis on the following areas:

  • Diagnosis and decision-making in primary care
  • Chronic pain
  • Development and evaluation of decision aids
  • Diagnosis, treatment and prevention of coronary heart disease
  • Intercultural care and global health
  • Education and professional change

We employ a wide range of research methods and designs. These include, among others, practice-based cohort studies, controlled cluster randomized intervention trials, systematic reviews, quantitative and qualitative analyses of health care encounters and qualitative analyses of in-depth interviews of patients and health care providers.

Several products developed in or by our department have received national and international recognition. Among these are the Marburg Heart Score for the diagnosis of coronary heart disease in primary care and arriba, a computer-based decision aid encouraging patients to take an active part in decisions concerning their health.

Members of the department have actively contributed to national guidelines:

  • Osteoporosis (Erika Baum)
  • Postmenopausal hormone replacement (Erika Baum)
  • Lower back pain and chronic pain (Annette Becker)
  • Fatigue (Norbert Donner-Banzhoff, Erika Baum)
  • Coronary heart disease (Norbert Donner-Banzhoff)
  • Chest pain (Jörg Haasenritter, Stefan Bösner, Joachim Klug, Norbert Donner-Banzhoff)
  • Thyroid disease (Annika Viniol)

They have been appointed members of scientific advisory boards and/or reviewers for national and international journals and conferences.


Academic visitors will be given the opportunity to take part in scientific projects conducted within our department. They will benefit from hands-on experience with research design, data collection, analysis and reporting. Their degree of responsibility will depend on their previous research experience and the duration of their stay at the department.

International visitors will be allocated an experienced member of our department as supervisor and resource person.

We expect visiting scientists to participate in the program “Clinical Evaluation” starting in September and concluding in April. This is a part-time program providing skills in clinical and health services research. Participants develop their own research proposal in health services or clinical research. This proposal must be defended at the end of the course.

Requirements and Support

German and English are the languages spoken within our department. While for short visits no German language skills are needed, periods of more than two months up to one year will only be worth the effort with at least basic German language skills. A large number of projects include contacts with patients attending practices in and around Marburg. A sizeable proportion of our projects imply analysis text data, which are always in German (qualitative research). Spoken and written proficiency in German is thus crucial for a large part of our research activities.

We recommend that visitors obtain basic research skills before applying for a study period at our department.

Physician visitors who are also interested in clinical work are requested to check if they meet the requirements for the “Permit for the Temporary Practice of Medicine (License)” (Berufserlaubnis). Supervised work in a practice in primary care and residential training positions at the University Hospital (UKGM Marburg) are available. However, good German language skills are required for these.

Unfortunately we cannot provide financial support for academic or clinical work. Academic visitors will therefore need to secure grants from government or voluntary organizations in their home country. They should also enquire with the German Academic Exchange Service about financial support.

The Welcome Centre provides information and support for scientists planning a stay at the Universität Marburg.

For further information please contact Muazzez Ilhan: