Five new Clinical Research Units (CRUs) have been set up at university hospitals over the last few months by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinshaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), the central public funding body for research in Germany.

The units in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Heidelberg and Würzburg are the first to be approved since the CRU programme was reformed in 2008. They bring to 46 the total number of Clinical Research Units established by the DGF in Germany since 2001.

As with the existing CRUs, the new units provide close linkage between the fields of basic, applied and clinical research. Their work will focus on “highly topical” medical issues, such as the treatment of metastases in bowel cancer patients and more effective approaches to hormone-related obesity, the DFG noted.

This latter issue will be taken up by the Clinical Research Unit at Charité University Hospital in Berlin. The new unit at Düsseldorf University Hospital will be looking at the role of transport abnormalities and other factors in liver disease, while researchers at University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf will explore new treatment options and diagnostic/prognostic strategies for glomerulonephritis.

The mechanisms underlying bowel-cancer metastases are the focus for the new DFG-backed Clinical Research Unit at Heidelberg University Hospital. Researchers at Würzburg University Hospital will investigate signalling pathways in multiple myeloma.

Clinical Research Units are one of a wide range of support programmes operated by the DFG, including research grants, collaborative research centres, prizes and fellowships.