"Excellence is essential!"

Prof. Dr. med. Joachim W. Dudenhausen presents structures, priorities and goals of the new faculty

Potsdam, 24 September 2020

The new Faculty of Health Sciences jointly founded by the Brandenburg Medical School, the University of Potsdam and the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg was in the focus of the 15th Health Circle organized by the IGW BB (Health Sector Initiative Brandenburg) on the Griebnitzsee campus of the University of Potsdam on 23 September. Over 100 participants signified great interest in the topic, the high-ranking presenters, the penal discussion and the plans of the Brandenburg government to establish state-financed medical education in the Lausitz region.

Prof. Dr. Joachim W. Dudenhausen as founding dean of the new faculty FGW presented structures, priorities and goals of the faculty. Main targets are the development of new services of medical, nursing and technical care and of innovative study programmes on the one hand, and collaboration with further universities and research facilities to improve medical and nursing care in the state of Brandenburg on the other.

MHB president Prof. Edmund Neugebauer pointed to the joint focus of “health and medicine of ageing” in teaching and research at the three institutions involved. The FGW, so Neugebauer, is gaining importance as a driving force in translational research and a partner in collaborative research with the health care sector.

Participants of the subsequent panel discussion were: Tobias Dünow from the Brandenburg Ministry of Science, Research and Cultural Affairs, FGW founding dean Prof. Joachim W. Dudenhausen, Prof. Oliver Günther (president, University of Potsdam), Prof. Christiane Hipp (president, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg), Prof. Edmund Neugebauer (president, Brandenburg Medical School Theodor Fontane) and Prof. Michael Schierack as spokesman of the CDU group in the Brandenburg parliament for science, research and health. They first addressed the potential of, and expectations towards, a joint faculty as the core element of health research in Brandenburg. The round went on to discuss the implications of a planned state-organised medical faculty in the Lausitz region for FGW and MHB and for the future of medical services in general.

Spaceships and pink elephants

Plans of the Brandenburg government to establish medical education in the region co-financed with federal funds, in compensation for the decline in open-cast coal mining, stood in the room like a pink elephant – unmentioned at first but clearly in everybody’s mind. But then an open debate followed in which MHB president Neugebauer welcomed the idea in principle with a view to the existing shortage of physicians in the region. He pointed to the local network of cooperating hospitals and repeated his offer of assistance by the MHB based on the acquired expertise. Oliver Günther (president, University of Potsdam) compared the project for the Lausitz area with the landing of a spaceship; he stressed the achievements of the MHB and its need for state funding to maintain the required standards in research, under the joint institutional roof of the FGW.

All or nothing

Parliamentary undersecretary Tobias Dünow called the issue of state-financed university-level medical training “our most ambitious, most complicated and in its complexity most underestimated project. At the same time, I believe it is our most meaningful project with implications far beyond the Lausitz region.” Essential details are still unclear. A commission of 10 renowned experts chaired by former Charité CEO Karl Max Einhäupl has been appointed to set up the respective procedures since the process cannot be compared to the usual foundation of just another university hospital or training facility for medical doctors.

The project, so Dünow, requires not only federal funding but also approval by all state ministers of science and in addition by the Federal Government’s Science Council. Plans for the project should therefore be extremely ambitious. The scheduled medical faculty must have unique features and serve as a role model for other federal states. Repeating the words of Science Minister Manja Schüle, Dünow said that university medicine in the Lausitz region must either be excellent, or non-existent – all or nothing. “There is still a long way to go”, said Dünow, and estimated the chances of successful implementation as 80%. And the debate on the pink elephant will undoubtedly continue.