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We have received the sad news that Prof. Duska Dragun, director of both the Biomedical Innovation Academy (BIA) of the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) and the Charité BIH Clinician Scientist Program, succumbed to a long and bravely endured illness on December 28, 2020. She was 51 years old. 

Until the very end, even from her hospital bed, Prof. Dragun’s tireless efforts were directed toward her life’s work: the Charité BIH Clinician Scientist Program. Ten years ago, she launched the first Clinician Scientist Program in Berlin and over the decade established it as a best practice in the German-speaking world while overseeing its continuous expansion. She played a key role in developing and shaping a number of programs for scientifically active clinicians: from the “classic” Clinician Scientist Program, which enables aspiring specialist physicians to devote up to 50 percent of their working hours to research; to the Junior Program with 20 percent of working hours devoted to research, which begins in the first year of residency training; to the Advanced Clinician Scientist Program for specialist physicians who have qualified as professors. Two years ago, she successfully landed a grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG) for the first and only Digital Clinician Scientist Program in Germany. This unique program enables young physicians and scientists to undertake research and work to advance the digitalization of medicine and healthcare. Thus, in just a few years, Prof. Dragun made a significant contribution to building a new generation of young medical specialists – the impact of her programs will endure for a long time, whether through the promising careers of individual clinician scientists or through the programmatic strengthening of patient-oriented research. Clinician scientists know both sides of medical development – the bench and the bedside – and thus pave the way for translation, the BIH’s core mission.

Prof. Dragun, who was a physician herself, was always committed to research: As managing senior physician and deputy to the interim director of the Medical Department, Division of Nephrology and Internal Intensive Care Medicine at the Charité Campus Virchow Clinic and as head of the Nephrology Research Laboratory, she made highly regarded, internationally recognized contributions to transplantation research, with the goals of improving graft techniques and long-term survival rates as well as preventing cardiovascular comorbidity in order to ultimately improve the quality of life and life expectancy of transplant patients. She was recently awarded an honorary lifetime membership by the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ASHI) for her outstanding achievements in the fields of tissue typing and immunogenetics. Prof. Dragun’s pioneering work on the first functional non-HLA antibodies has become part of routine diagnostics throughout transplantation medicine.

Duska Dragun was not only a physician, scientist and teacher, but also served as a role model and mentor for successful women in medicine. She put all of her energy and passion into her big goals, which were synonymous with those of the BIH and Charité, and pursued these goals with steadfast determination and unfaltering determination. She gave her employees, colleagues and students her full attention, being equally affable, empathetic, and demanding. While she valued performance, justice and fairness were particularly important to her, and she was able to forgive mistakes and use them to forge new paths.

The death of Prof. Dragun is a tremendous and painful loss for the BIH and Charité. We will miss her greatly as director of the BIH Biomedical Innovation Academy, as director of the Charité BIH Clinician Scientist Program and as a physician, professor and scientist. But above all we will miss Duska Dragun greatly as a person. We will always cherish her memory. Our deepest sympathy goes out to her family.

The BIH Executive Board

Prof. Christopher Baum, Chief Executive Officer of the BIH
Andrea Runow, Chief Financial Officer (interim) of the BIH
Prof. Heyo K. Kroemer, Chief Executive Officer of Charité, Member of the BIH Executive Board
Prof. Axel Radlach Pries, Dean of Charité / Member of the BIH Executive Board
Prof. Thomas Sommer, Scientific Director (interim) of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association / Member of the BIH Executive Board

Your words and memories of Professor Duska Dragun

We invite you to send us some words in memory of Professor Duska Dragun, which we will publish on this page and/or bind together in a booklet for her parents and closest friends and relatives, with your permission. To do so, please send your message to academy@bihealth.de.