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NUM Network University Medicine on COVID-19

The Network University Medicine (NUM) was founded four years ago as part of the crisis management against the COVID-19 pandemic in order to coordinate clinical COVID-19 research throughout university medicine. The idea: wherever joint action and a coordinated approach brings synergies, speed or other advantages, the NUM is intended to promote cooperation between clinical researchers. Accordingly, the NUM's research projects are clinically oriented and strive for directly practice-relevant findings in order to provide better care for patients or better manage major crises in the field of public health.

Since then, the NUM has significantly changed the way German university medicine collaborates in clinical research. For the first time, scientists from all 36 German university medical centers are working together in an overarching platform in interdisciplinary research projects. This comprehensive approach, which covers the entire university medical center and all medical disciplines, distinguishes the NUM from other clinical research networks. These are generally focused on individual disease areas and sub-areas of university medicine.

A characteristic feature of all NUM projects is that university medicine acts jointly across locations, not in competition. The principle of "cooperation instead of competition". The network has established research infrastructures for this purpose.

NUM research infrastructures support researchers with methodological expertise, data management and high-quality research data. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a widespread lack of the necessary platforms to collect, store and make available treatment data and biosamples for use across institutions in a structured manner. For this reason, research and data infrastructures were either set up from scratch in several NUM projects (e.g. the RACOON image data platform) or existing ones were expanded (e.g. the NUKLEUS study platform).


There are currently seven research infrastructures at NUM (AKTIN@NUM | GenSurv | NATON 2.0 | NUKLEUS | NUM-DIZ | NUM-RDP | RACOON), each with a different focus. A central task of the NUM is to provide infrastructures to these research on a permanent basis and to continuously enhance them. This includes the further expansion of the NUM platforms into a Germany-wide data space for all types of clinical research data. This should be widely available for use by the scientific community in line with the open science concept.

The Marburg site is involved in FOUR research infrastructures: AKTIN@NUM | NUM-DIZ | NUM-RDP and RACOON.

These infrastructures created through and for joint research are operated on a permanent basis and continuously developed further. The methodological, technical and organizational platforms with the associated governance concepts and legal bases are maintained in the NUM and used for individual research projects, for example to support data collection and data management for large, multicenter clinical studies. The NUM platforms also suppert to ensure that clinical research and the healthcare system as a whole are well prepared for future pandemics and other public health crises.

Since January 1, 2022, the NUM has been funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for a 2nd funding period of three and a half years. Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin is responsible for coordinating the NUM. In order to permanently secure the structures that have been created in the NUM, the BMBF has promised to perpetuate the network after the current funding period.

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