• 5/22/2017

TUM School of Medicine turns 50

Celebration for cutting-edge medicine

The establishment of the school of medicine at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in 1967 was something of a political bombshell. The city already had a faculty of medicine, and even today technical universities with their own medical research facilities are still quite uncommon. The bold move by Bavaria's state politicians has paid off. The School of Medicine and the clinic have exceeded all expectations. They are now jointly celebrating their 50th birthday. For a behind-the-scenes look at the model approach behind TUM's success in medicine, an open house will take place at the TUM Rechts der Isar university clinic on May 27th.

The hand-over of keys for the Klinikum at 1967 (from left to right): Dr. Ludwig Hube, Bavar-ian Minister of State for Education and Culture, Dr. Hans-Jochen Vogel, Mayor of the City of Munich, and Prof. Gerd Albers, Rektor of the TH München. (Picture: Klinikum rechts der Isar)
The hand-over of keys for the Klinikum at 1967 (from left to right): Dr. Ludwig Hube, Bavar-ian Minister of State for Education and Culture, Dr. Hans-Jochen Vogel, Mayor of the City of Munich, and Prof. Gerd Albers, Rektor of the TH München. (Picture: Klinikum rechts der Isar)

The TUM university clinics and School of Medicine have since blossomed into internationally respected institutions. In the four core areas of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, neurological diseases, and allergy and immune diseases as well as many other fields of medical treatment and research, the faculty members frequently earn accolades for outstanding results. Today the School of Medicine has 88 professors and the approximately 5,500 employees at the Klinikum rechts der Isar deal with around 310,000 cases per year (outpatient/inpatient care: 250,000/60,000). Along with the university clinic itself, the TUM School of Medicine also includes the renowned German Heart Center Munich.

Before the School of Medicine was established in 1967 it was notoriously difficult to secure admission to study medicine in Bavaria. The Bavarian state government made an exhaustive search for a second location for a school of medicine in the 1960s. In the end, it was above all the persuasive powers of Prof. Georg Maurer, then the head of the Klinikum rechts der Isar municipal hospital, that resulted in the selection of TUM and Maurer's hospital. With "Rechts der Isar", Munich gained a second university hospital. Since then the city has developed into Germany's medical capital. In terms of the number of professorships, the School of Medicine is now TUM's largest academic department.

Core competency of the young school: interdisciplinary cooperation

Summing up the strengths of his School of Medicine, TUM President Prof. Wolfgang A. Herrmann says, "Cutting-edge medicine at TUM draws its successes from its robust research alliances with the strong science and engineering faculties. Since it was founded, the extraordinary interplay of excellent hospital care, top-flight medical research and outstand-ing engineering sciences has proven fruitful in countless ways. We're proud of our TUM School of Medicine!"

Areas with a history of successful cooperation with the School of Medicine include the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Informatics, Physics and Chemistry. Joint research is also carried out with the TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan and the Department of Sport and Health Sciences. With its portfolio of subject areas, TUM is unrivalled among Europe's universities.

The latest example of the interdisciplinary strategy is the Center for Translational Cancer Research (TranslaTUM), which will open on TUM's medical campus in the fall of 2017. It will bring together specialists in medicine, life sciences, other natural sciences and engineer-ing to explore new approaches to fighting cancer. Another major interdisciplinary project is the planned Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Research Center: Made possible with 25 million euros in funding from the Klaus Tschira Foundation, the center will enable scientists engaged in basic research and the development of treatments for this still incurable disease to work together under one roof.

The interdisciplinary concept will also be an important aspect of patient care in the future: "We will continue to promote the trend toward increased cooperation across different areas of expertise in the future," says Prof. Markus Schwaiger, the medical director of Klinikum rechts der Isar. "Individual clinics will become increasingly integrated into specialized areas for certain organs or conditions." This improved concentration of facilities leads to increased efficiency and optimized processes, which not only benefit progress in science and technology, but first and foremost the patients. Well-established examples include the clinic's inter-disciplinary endoscopy center and the surgical centers. The official opening of the new sur-gical center “OP-Zentrum Nord” in July 2017 will mark another step toward the future for the university clinic.

Digitalization and support of young talent as key areas for the future

Prof. Peter Henningsen, the dean of the School of Medicine, expects his faculty to focus on two areas going forward. The first will be the digitalization of medicine, which presents countless opportunities for cooperation and research. At present, the school is working to fill a number of professorships specializing in digital medicine. The second is education. In recent years the TUM School of Medicine has already introduced many innovations with the goal of training "clinician scientists", i.e. graduates who identify as both scientists and doc-tors. But the school is not about to rest on its laurels: "In the future we want to offer the best medical training in Germany," says Henningsen. TUM was also the first university in Germany to establish an Institute for General Practice – a development now seen as a must-have in the world of medical education.

A successful funding magnet

TUM's successes are reflected in research sponsorship, too, both at the national and inter-national levels: At present, the School of Medicine is involved in all of the German Centers for Health Research and is home to five Collaborative Research Centers of the German Research Foundation (DFG). The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded 23 of its prestigious ERC grants to TUM faculty members. The school has an enormous international network as well.

The development of medicine at the Technical University of Munich over the past 50 years has exceeded all expectations. The cross-fertilization between high-level research in medi-cine and leading-edge technology forms the basis for an excellent international reputation.

Open house for the 50th anniversary

To let the public see, experience and understand modern medicine, the Rechts der Isar university clinic will host an open house from 1:00 to 5:00 pm on Saturday, May 27. The extensive program, featuring tours, information stands, talks and activities to see and do, will provide interesting insights into the world of medicine and research. An exciting children's program is also planned.

Examples of outstanding achievements of the Technical University of Munich in medical treatment and research

  • An area that highlights the successful cooperation of medical research, natural sciences and engineering is imaging: Processes developed here have opened up en-tirely new ways of looking into the human body. TUM is among the world leaders in positron emissions tomography (PET), for example: Klinikum rechts der Isar was the first hospital in the world to use a device combining magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and PET (PET-MR). Doctors and scientists at the clinic also recently devel-oped a PET diagnostic process (PSMA-PET) that captures images of the tiny me-tastases in prostate cancer patients. Other remarkable achievements include the development of new X-ray technologies and innovative processes such as optoacous-tic imaging, in which laser pulses are used to generate sound waves that are then converted into images
  • In 2010 a team in the gynecological clinic discovered the RAD51C gene that is a high risk factor for breast cancer. Only three such genes have been discovered worldwide.
  • One of the biggest international successes was the world's first double arm trans-plant in 2008: an enormous feat of surgical skill performed by an interdisciplinary team at the Klinikum rechts der Isar.
  • In the mid-1990s, gastroenterologists at the university clinic achieved a breakthrough in endoscopy: They were the first to introduce endoscopic imaging of the pancreatic and bile ducts (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram: ERCP) and endo-scopic papillotomy (EPT). These are now standard treatments for removing tissue in case of stones, stenosis and tumors.
  • Also in the 1990s, the Klinikum rechts der Isar established interdisciplinary tumor boards, in which experts from all relevant specializations coordinate cancer treat-ments. These tumor boards have since become commonplace.
  • The Ethics Commission established in the School of Medicine in 1980 was among the first of its kind. Nowadays research without such a monitoring panel would be in-conceivable

Further Information:

Website of  the Klinikum rechts der Isar

More Information about Open House (in German in only)

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