TUM leads major project in digital medicine

14th July 2017
Posted By : Enaie Azambuja
TUM leads major project in digital medicine


The aim of the DIFUTURE (Data Integration for Future Medicine) project is to collate and analyse digital patient data with a view to improving our understanding of diseases and allowing doctors to reach the individual right decisions faster.

Under the leadership of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and in cooperation with the Ludwig Maximilian University Munich (LMU), Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen and the University of Augsburg the major project can start with millions of euros in funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the Medical Informatics Initiative.

Together with further partners from science and industry, the DIFUTURE Consortium will harmonise, integrate and analyse a wide variety of data from healthcare and research. The aim is to utilise data from routine clinical practice for research purposes and to improve our understanding of the causes and progression of diseases.

Collating records from research – for example from genetic or tissue databases – and from clinical practice will shed new light on relationships, for example, between individual genes, lifestyles, and diseases or complications.

Such large data sets (“Big Data”) will create opportunities for the early detection of rare complications, risks and adverse drug effects as well as for improving diagnoses, treatment decisions and preventive care. This knowledge will help to prevent diseases more effectively, diagnose them more quickly and treat them more specifically and with fewer side effects.

Medical science of the future will be preventive, personalised, interdisciplinary and digital

The consortium, headed by Klaus A. Kuhn, head of the Institute for Medical Statistics and Epidemiology at TUM, has successfully completed preliminary projects on compat-ible systems and the shared use of patient data. This groundwork and concepts from DIFUTURE have now been successfully evaluated by an international expert panel. The consortium places particular emphasis on data protection and data security, as well as covering all aspects of future-oriented medicine, which is preventive, personalised, interdisciplinary and digital.

Concrete applications test the suitability for routine practice

Within the framework of the Medical Informatics Initiative of the BMBF, 4 consortia nationwide will receive total funding of 120 million euros. All the supported consortia will develop data integration centers and will concretely demonstrate added value in practical examples. The centers will show how data, information and knowledge from medi-cal practice and clinical and biomedical research can be linked beyond site boundaries. In the case of the neurological disease multiple sclerosis (MS), DIFUTURE has already combined and harmonised data from various sources. The questions being addressed relate to disease progression, precision therapy and possible patterns of prior and con-current diseases. Other applications will focus on Parkinson’s disease, rare diseases, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

Digital medicine leading to a digital university

"With its main fields ofemphasis in informatics and medical science, the TUM is well poised to drive forward and shape the digital revolution in the healthcare sector. This success is another important element of our digitisation strategy, through which we are reconciling diverse academic cultures. “The key to the genuinely new lies in an interdisciplinary approach,” says TUM President Wolfgang A. Herrmann. “This is supported,” he goes on to say, “by the nationwide offensive Bayern.Digital, whose coordination center is located in Garching and which is headed by founding director and TUM professor Manfred Broy.”

Further partners of the DIFUTURE Consortium include: Kairos GmbH, the University of Saarland, Saarland University Hospital, Regensburg University Hospital, the GO FAIR Initiative, ASCO CancerLinQ, TRANSLATE-NAMSE – National Action Plan for People with Rare Diseases, Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Bayern (Bavarian Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians), and the Health Information Privacy Laboratory (Vanderbilt University School of Medicine).

The Medical Informatics Initiative of the BMBF

The aim of the Medical Informatics Initiative of the BMBF is to consolidate medical research and improve patient care. Innovative IT solutions will allow the exchange and intelligent use of data from patient care, clinical research and biomedical research. With a planned funding volume of 150 million euros in the period from 2018 to 2021, the Federal Government is promoting the establishment of data integration centers at German university hospitals and partner institutions.

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