The structure of the National Genome Research Network (NGFN)
The NGFN constist of 5 disease-oriented genome networks (represented as green balls), the core area (orange) and the platform technologies (blue).
The National Genome Network
The objective of the National Genome Research Network is to find out which genes are involved in the onset of widespread diseases. The results of this reseach will lead to an entirely new understanding of disease mechanisms and new approaches for the treatment of widespread diseases.
After decoding the human genome it is now an even greater challenge to understand the contents of this genetic information and to elucidate the function of the genes. Nowadays functional analyses of genes can be conducted much more efficiently than a few yearsago since genome researchers are now able to apply novel automated techniques. In response to the current impact of genomics on biomedical research, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) established the National Genome Research Network (NGFN). It first received funding totaling 180 million euros in 2001, covering an initial funding period of three years.
The NGFN`s new interdisciplinary concept is based on close collaboration in the fields of high-throughput genome research and medical research: Scientists of various disciplines - such as biologists, physicians or computer scientists - combine their know-how and technology resources in common projects in order to improve diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting a large number of patients. Those widespread diseases include cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diseases of the nervous system, diseases due to environmental factors as well as infection and inflammation.
In five disease-oriented genome networks covering the above metioned topics, physicians and clinical researchers work on the elucidation of causal disease-mechanisms. Each of these networks consists of 3-5 local research sites. The majority of these are located at universities, but also include non-university research facilities and a number of biotechnology companies.
Modern biomedical research needs highly sophisticated molecular biological techniques. These high-throughput technologies are provided by five major institutions (4 Helmholtz Centres and 1 Max Planck Institute) forming the core area. The core area also develops new systematical approaches for the analysis of biological processes.
Furthermore the knowledge and methodology from the cross-sectional disciplines such as bioinformatics, proteomics and genetic epidemiology, represented in the platform technologies, are indispensable for modern biomedical research.
Each of the research groups involved offers special expertise and none of the above groups would be able to achieve the NGFN’s aim on their own. Accordingly, the main criterion for success is each participant’s full co-operation. Each of the approx. 300 projects within the National Genome Research Network is supported in its specific area of research through methodological advice, assistance in clinical research, use of common infrastructure as well as an organized exchange of materials and experience.