The BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Program (CSP) has continuously evolved over the past eleven years. Today, in addition to the standard CSP, there are also the Junior, Digital and Advanced Clinician Scientist Programs, thus providing structured, tailored support to young doctors in their career development, both during and after residency training. With currently about 150 active fellows and about 200 alumni, the Berlin-based programs are not only by far the largest of their kind in Germany, but according to the German Research Foundation (DFG) they also set best practice standards for the whole country – especially through their quality assurance measures.
Il-Kang Na, a role-model for aspiring clinician scientists
The CSP’s new director holds a BIH Johanna Quandt Professorship and is head of the Immune System Defects and Dysfunctions in Tumor Patients Group at the BIH and head of a research group at the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC). She is also a senior physician in the Department of Hematology, Oncology and Tumor Immunology at Charité Campus Virchow-Klinikum, under the direction of Prof. Lars Bullinger. As a long-time member of the BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Board and as spokesperson of the Berlin School of Integrative Oncology (BSIO), she has additionally gained a wide range of experience in cultivating young medical talent. She wants to further develop the CSP in the longer term and adapt measures that support young physicians in academic 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 working in academic medicine today,” says Na. “Anyone who wants to seriously pursue research alongside clinical work needs support, especially in our current times, and that’s what we want to provide.”
Prof. Christopher Baum, Chair of the BIH Board of Directors and Charité’s Chief Translational Research Officer, congratulates the program’s new director: “Prof. Il-Kang Na is the perfect fit to lead the CSP. As a research physician herself, she is a role model for aspiring clinician scientists. Medical translation is about identifying medical problems, converting them into a research design, and translating the findings from the lab back to the clinic. That’s why clinician scientists are so important: They know what’s wrong with patients, while also understanding how to tackle the problem scientifically – thereby turning research into health.”
Prof. Joachim Spranger, Dean of the Charité and thus in charge of research and teaching at the university medical center, first expressed his deep gratitude to Prof. Siegmund and Prof. Müller: “In addition to their many other duties, the two of them have led the program for two years on a voluntary basis with great dedication and a considerable extra time commitment. This has enabled us to ensure, without interruption, that up-and-coming physicians can conduct research at the highest level while at the same time undergoing further training to become specialists in the various disciplines. In Prof. Na, a superbly qualified colleague now takes over the leadership of this important and joint BIH-Charité program. I warmly congratulate Prof. Na on her new role and wish her every success in her upcoming duties. I’m convinced that she will contribute significantly to providing continued support to clinically active scientists at Charité, ensuring that they have protected time to devote to their research activities.”
Close ties with the BIH Biomedical Innovation Academy (BIA)
Unlike under Prof. Dragun, who also served as director of the BIH Biomedical Innovation Academy (BIA), the CSP and the BIA will now have separate leadership. Dr. Nathalie Huber and Dr. Iwan Meij jointly lead the BIA, where they are successfully continuing Prof. Dragun’s work in academic staff development. The Clinician Scientist Office, including its head Dr. Huber, remains based at the BIA. Prof. Igor M. Sauer, deputy director of the Department of Surgery and head of Experimental Surgery at Charité, and his deputy, Prof. Robert Gütig, head of the BIH Mathematical Modeling of Neuronal Learning Group, lead the Digital Clinician Scientist Program. Prof. Na and her deputy, who is yet to be appointed, and the BIA’s leadership team will work together to ensure close collaboration between the various CS programs and the BIA.