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Memorandum signed on establishing a center of gene and cell therapy

26.04.2022

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The state of Berlin, Bayer, and Charité are planning a health care lighthouse project in the Mitte borough

Joint press release

Governing Mayor of Berlin Franziska Giffey, together with Stefan Oelrich, Member of Bayer’s Management Board and Head of the Pharmaceuticals Division; Prof. Dr. Heyo K. Kroemer, CEO of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin; Ulrike Gote, Senator for Higher Education and Research, Health, Long-Term Care and Gender Equality; and Stephan Schwarz, Senator for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises, signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding today at the Red Town Hall on founding a center for translational research in the area of gene and cell therapy.

Group picture. Three sit at the table and sign the documents, two stand behind them.
Memorandum signed on establishing a center of gene and cell therapy. f.l.t.r.: Stefan Oelrich, Bayer AG; Ulrike Gote, Senator for Higher Education, Research, and Health; Franziska Giffey, Governing Mayor; Stephan Schwarz, Senator for Economics; Prof. Dr. Heyo K. Kroemer, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. © Senatskanzlei/Sven Darmer

Franziska Giffey, Governing Mayor: “Today the federal state of Berlin, Bayer AG, and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin have launched a highly innovative medical project. The Senate has also affirmed its commitment to and its support for the project. This project will have an international impact on business and science, and we will work to advance it here in Berlin by bringing additional partners on board. Everyone involved will benefit. Highly qualified jobs will be created – along with new potential for cooperation with partners from all over the world – for Berlin as a research hub and health care capital. New therapies will be developed for patients, thereby strengthening health care in Berlin and beyond. Our city is the ideal home for a unique center for gene and cell therapy of this kind.”

Stefan Oelrich, Bayer AG: “Our company is working on highly innovative therapy options that may help reverse severe illnesses in the future. The accelerated transfer of gene and cell therapies from science and research to patient care plays a key role here. The center we are planning can help strengthen exchange and cooperation between stakeholders in Germany, Europe, and the world, and serve as an internationally attractive platform for investment and talent. This joint project is a clear commitment to Germany as a center of science and innovation and to Berlin.”

Prof. Dr. Heyo K. Kroemer, Charité: “Alongside mRNA-based methods, cell and gene therapies have the biggest global growth potential when it comes to developing new approaches to the treatment and prevention of severe illnesses. The joint initiative by Charité, an internationally renowned institution of university medicine, and Bayer, a  pharmaceutical leader conducting research in this highly innovative field, offers a chance to establish new forms of cooperation between business and academia in cell and gene therapy that are open to contributions from other partners. As a location that is home to nationally and internationally esteemed institutions from biomedicine and the health industry, Berlin offers an excellent environment to attract even more players to form a creative, interactive hub for biomedical innovation.”

Ulrike Gote, Senator for Higher Education, Research, and Health: “The insights gained at the center for gene and cell therapy can be put to good use in health care, higher education, and research here in Berlin. With the Berlin Institute of Health at the Charité, Berlin is already a leader when it comes to applying biomedical findings from basic research to patient care and treatment for the people of Berlin. This enormous potential can be tapped further, and the new center will give us one more way to step up the effort to close the gap between world-class basic research and specific therapeutic applications. I am especially pleased that the issue of alternatives to animal testing is being integrated into the center’s work. I also welcome the fact that it will encourage dialogue in society on the opportunities and risks of gene and cell therapy, while taking ethical aspects into account.”

Stephan Schwarz, Senator for Economics: “In our city, research and development lead to pioneering innovations, new economic strength, and recession-proof jobs. What applies to many sectors is especially true of Berlin as a powerhouse of medicine and the health care industry. Our recipe for success is the ever closer cooperation between our companies and Berlin’s outstanding academic and research sector, which also attracts talented people and investment to Berlin. The plans for the new translational center for gene and cell therapy will give this development additional momentum. This lighthouse project has great potential to overcome what were once boundaries in medicine, to open the door to new treatment options, and to translate research results into treatment faster and more effectively. Pulling together to meet this goal, Bayer, Charité, und policymakers are bringing their considerable strength to bear. That is very good news for Berlin’s economy and, above all, for patients.”

The center could be located on the premises of Bayer’s pharmaceutical headquarters at Nordhafen in Berlin and would be a high-tech project that is unique in Germany. It would also be a stellar example of cooperation between science and business. “Translation” refers to the transfer of promising research to specific clinical programs and medical products in order to benefit patients. The goal is to better exploit the enormous health care policy and economic potential of gene and cell therapy. The memorandum that was signed today outlines the mission and the goals of a future translational center, as well as the contributions to be made by the signatories.

The state of Berlin hereby promises its support for other stakeholders as well from the scientific and business communities, and for the startup scene.