Prof. Dr. Il-Kang Na becomes new director of the BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Programme

Berlin, January 9, 2023

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Prof. Dr. Il-Kang Na will become the new director of the BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Programme (CSP) on January 1, 2023. The BIH Johanna Quandt Professor succeeds Prof. Dr. Duška Dragun, who had led the programme as programme director until her much too early death at the end of 2020. In 2021 and 2022, Prof. Dr. Britta Siegmund and Prof. Dr. Dominik N. Müller had taken over the programme directorate on a transitional honorary basis. The Clinician Scientist Programme of the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité (BIH) and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin offers physicians in training the opportunity to conduct research alongside their clinical activities during various phases of their careers.

Over the past eleven years, the BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Programme (CSP) has continuously evolved: Today, in addition to the established CSP, there is also the Junior, Digital and Advanced CSP, and thus a tailored structured support programme for each career stage during and after residency training. Currently, with about 150 active fellows and about 200 alumni, the Berlin programmes are not only by far the largest clinician scientist site in Germany, but according to the German Research Foundation (DFG), they also set “best practice” standards nationwide – especially through quality assurance measures.

The new programme director holds a BIH Johanna Quandt Professorship and is head of the research group “Defects and Dysfunctions of the Immune System in Tumor Patients” at BIH. At the same time, she is a senior physician at the Department of Medicine with a focus on hematology, oncology and tumor immunology at the Charité Campus Virchow-Klinikum. In addition, as a long-standing member of the BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Board and as spokesperson of the Berlin School of Integrative Oncology (BSIO), she has gained a wide range of experience in the field of promoting young scientists. She would like to further develop the CSP in the longer term and adapt the promotion of young medical professionals in university medicine to the current situation. “The digital transformation and medical progress on the one hand, and the acute shortage of specialists and the pandemic on the other, pose special challenges for young physicians in university medicine today,” says Prof. Na. “Anyone who wants to seriously pursue research alongside clinical work needs support, especially in this situation. That’s what we want to provide.”

Prof. Dr. Christopher Baum, Chairman of the Translational Research Division of Charité and Chairman of the BIH Board of Directors, congratulates the new programme director. “Prof. Il-Kang Na fits the profile of the CSP Programme Director like a glove: As a physician and scientist herself, she is the Role Model for Clinician Scientists. Medical translation is about identifying medical problems, translating them into a research approach, and transferring the results back from the lab to the clinic. That’s why Clinician Scientists are so important to us: they know what’s wrong with patients while understanding how to research the problem. And thus turn research into health.”

Prof. Dr. Joachim Spranger, dean of Charité, began by expressing his deep gratitude to Prof. Siegmund and Prof. Müller. “The two of them have managed the programme for two years on a voluntary basis with great commitment and a great deal of additional time in addition to their many other duties. This enabled us without interruption to enable our future physicians in the various disciplines to conduct research at the highest level and at the same time to pursue further training to become specialists. With Prof. Na, an excellently qualified colleague now takes over the leadership of this important and joint BIH-Charité programme. I warmly congratulate Prof. Na on her new task and wish her every success in her upcoming activities. I am convinced that she will make an important contribution to continue supporting clinically active scientists at Charité in their scientific activities with protected research time.”

Unlike under Prof. Dragun, who also served as director of the BIH Biomedical Innovation Academy (BIA), the CSP programme directorate and BIA leadership are now separate. Dr. Nathalie Huber and Dr. Iwan Meij jointly lead the BIA and continue Prof. Dragun’s work around academic workforce development. The Clinician Scientist office with its head Dr. Huber also remains located at the BIA. Prof. Dr. Igor M. Sauer, Deputy Director of the Department of Surgery and Head of Experimental Surgery at Charité, and his deputy Prof. Dr. Robert Gütig, Head of the BIH Mathematical Modeling of Neural Learning Group, will lead the Digital Clinician Scientist Programme. Together with Prof. Na, their deputy (yet to be determined), and the BIA leadership, they form the leadership team that ensures close collaboration between the various CS programmes and the BIA.

About the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité (BIH)

The mission of the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité (BIH) is medical translation: findings from biomedical research are translated into new approaches for personalized prediction, prevention, diagnostics and therapy; conversely, observations in everyday clinical practice lead to new research ideas. The goal is to achieve a relevant medical benefit for patients and citizens. To this end, BIH, as a translational research unit at Charité, establishes a comprehensive translational ecosystem, focuses on a cross-organ understanding of health and disease, and promotes a translational cultural change in biomedical research. BIH was founded in 2013 and is funded 90 percent by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and ten percent by the State of Berlin. The founding institutions Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and Max Delbrück Center were independent affiliates in BIH until 2020. Since 2021, BIH has been integrated into Charité as a so-called third pillar, and the Max Delbrück Center is a Privileged Partner of BIH.

About Charité – University Medicine Berlin

Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin is one of the largest university hospitals in Europe, with around 100 clinics and institutes on 4 campuses and 3,099 beds. Research, teaching and patient care are closely interlinked. With an average of 17,615 employees across Charité and an average of 20,921 employees across the Group, Berlin University Medicine will continue to be one of the largest employers in the capital in 2021. Of these, 5,047 were employed in nursing, 4,988 in the scientific and medical fields, and 1,265 in administration. Last year, Charité treated 123,793 full and partial inpatient cases and 682,731 outpatient cases. In 2021, Charité generated total revenues of around 2.3 billion euros, including third-party revenues and investment grants. With 215.8 million euros in third-party funds collected, Charité achieved another record in 2021. At one of the largest medical faculties in Germany, more than 9,000 students are trained in human medicine, dentistry, health sciences and nursing. In addition, 730 training positions are offered in 11 health professions and 111 in 8 other professions. Berlin University Medicine sets priorities in the main research areas: Infection, Inflammation and Immunity including research on COVID-19, Cardiovascular Research and Metabolism, Neurosciences, Oncology, Regenerative Therapies and Rare Diseases and Genetics. Scientists at Charité work, among other things, in 28 DFG Collaborative Research Centers, including seven with a spokesperson function, in three Clusters of Excellence, one of which has a spokesperson function, 10 Emmy Noether junior research groups, 14 grants from the European Research Council and 8 European collaborative projects with Charité coordination.

Photo: Prof. Dr. Il-Kang Na © BIH | David Ausserhofer


BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Programm