Prof. Duška Dragun was an internal medicine specialist with a subspecialty in nephrology. She was also director of the Biomedical Innovation Academy of the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité (BIH) and director of the BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Program. In 2011, Dragun created the first clinician scientist program in Berlin. Now it is not only by far the largest program of its kind in Germany (over 160 active fellows and about 200 alumni), but it also sets standards for the whole country. Now well established, the program’s goal is to integrate research activity into postgraduate training without significantly lengthening the time such training takes. When accepting the prize, Siegmund highlighted that “collaboration with the Berlin Medical Association has always been a decisive component of the BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Program’s success.” Therein lay Dragun’s outstanding contribution to creating a new generation of clinician scientists. In addition, she made highly respected, internationally renowned contributions to transplantation research. Her untimely death, at the age of 51, occurred on December 28, 2020.
“Duška Dragun’s work was a major step in preparing a new generation of young scientists for university medicine. We’re delighted to posthumously honor our dearly departed director, mentor, and friend,” said Dr. Nathalie Huber, interim head of the BIH Biomedical Innovation Academy (BIA) and head of the Clinician Scientist Office. Her colleague Dr. Iwan Meij, who shares the post of interim head of the BIA with her, added, “The approximately 200 fellows who have successfully completed the BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Program testify to her vision, her tireless dedication, and her incredible devotion to the project.”
The other winner of this year’s prize is Dr. Gül Schmidt, an oral and maxillofacial specialist and head of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. She received the award in recognition of her commitment to children with cleft lips and palates. Schmidt has established a procedure that helps to keep newborns with specific congenital deformities from suffocating. It can also be used to treat an inability to suck or swallow. Furthermore, she supports the parents of such children with educational and information campaigns. Moreover, she often uses her vacation time to provide free medical care and operations to sick children in India, Vietnam, and other countries.
The Georg Klemperer Prize
Since 2007, the Berlin Medical Association has awarded the Georg Klemperer Prize to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to patient care in Berlin and the reputation of the medical profession. The prize is named for Prof. Georg Klemperer (1865–1946), a doctor, researcher, editor, and university professor in Berlin. The son of a rabbi, he made Moabit Hospital a home of both humane and scientifically informed medicine. Under his direction, the hospital earned a reputation throughout Germany. Klemperer symbolizes virtues like unconditional dedication to patients and a willingness to take novel approaches to problems. His focus was always on the whole human being, as an organism endowed with a body and a soul. In 1935, Klemperer had to flee to the United States in the face of Nazi persecution.