The QUEST Center plans and implements various projects and measures, among others in collaboration with the Department of Experimental Neurology Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.
The unique feature: The activities of the QUEST Center have a very practical relevance - an translational approach - as we seek to test new approaches in design, analysis and reporting at the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) building a bridge between basic research and clinical care. The procedures and projects to be implemented are identified by so-called "meta-research", i.e. research on research. During and after the implementation, we also want to examine the effectiveness. The QUEST projects focus on matters such as systematic reviews, Open Science (open data, metadata, and ontologies), Stakeholeder Engagement, Science Policy, (incentives and rewards in academia, new metrics and indicators), Replication and Reproducibility, Electronic Laboratory Notebook, registration and publication of clinical studies, teaching and quality management in the preclinical research.
BRAVO: Benchmarking Academic Institutions´ Contributions to Increasing Value and Reducing Waste in Biomedical Research
Funding Organisation: Federal Ministry of Education and Research
BRAVO examines the extent to which Germany's medical faculties consider and promote various aspects of quality of biomedical research. The aim of the project is to raise awareness of researchers and faculties of the world-wide "Increasing Value" debate, and to support the implementation of incentive schemes to promote the registration, publication, open access and reproduction of biomedical studies.
DECIDE – Decision-Enabling Confirmation of Innovative Discoveries and exploratory Evidence – is the accompanying project within the BMBF funded consortium Richtlinie zur Förderung von konfirmatorischen präklinischen Studien – Qualität in der Gesundheitsforschung (Guidelines for Promotion of Confirmatory Preclinical Studies – Quality in Health Research)
EQIPD is a collaborative project between the QUEST Center and the Department of Experimental Neurology (Charité) and aims to advance the quality and efficiency of discovery of R&D data by developing a simple, flexible, efficient system that can improve the rigor and robustness of preclinical neuroscience and saftey research in academia and industry.
EUHA Project on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)
The European Commission is promoting responsible research and innovation (RRI) as key action of the ‘Science with and for Society’ objective. Together with the European University Hospital Alliance (EUHA), the QUEST Center aims to be a driving force for responsible research and innovation and to contribute to the global discourse by sharing views in all research and innovation related issues. In this common project we will be working on three different topics: Tracking and improving timely publication of EUHA interventional trial results; Making EUHA research results FAIR; Novel responsible indicators and good evaluation practice in hiring and promotion at EUHA hospitals.
Extent, Predictors, and Management of Publication Bias in Animal ResearCh (EMBARC)
EMBARC examines to what extent, in what form and in what time previously approved animal testing applications have published their results and study methods. EMBARC will then use expert interviews on publication bias to examine the attitudes and approaches of the various stakeholders in the context of animal research.
Facility for the systematic review and meta-analysis of animal studies
In biomedical science, animal experiments are conducted to improve human health. However, efforts to translate results to clinical benefit in humans are often unsuccessful. Systematic review and meta-analysis are transparent, reproducible methods to objectively summarise published studies. In animal research, systematic reviews can help to identify reasons for translational failure, promising experimental treatments, and optimal 3Rs-related experimental designs.
Biobanks are collections of samples from human origin, such as tissue or blood samples, which are combined with clinically relevant data. The samples are stored as a long-term resource for future research projects. Samples stored in biobanks can be valuable for different research purposes in biomedicine. The objective of FairBBank (2014-2017) was the analysis of challenges and potentials for a fair allocation of samples in biobank based research.
GEENGOV: Governance of Research using Genom Editing Technology in Humans
GEENGOV is concerned with issues of regulating research that employs modern genome editing (e.g. CRISPR-Cas9) technology on somatic cells of humans. The project focuses on three important questions: (1) How can risk-benefit-assessments of GEEN-studies on human somatic cells be conducted systematically and professionally? (2) How can we ensure valid informed consent is provided by patients and participants of studies or so called “Heilversuche” employing such technology? (3) Is there a need for additional regulation by the state or other institutions (governance) or are established regulatory mechanisms and institutions sufficient?
GOT - IT
GOT-IT – Guidelines on Target Validation for Innovative Therapeutics within the BMBF funded consortium project: Target validation for pharmaceutical drug compound development
Good Justification Practice
The project Good Justification Practice investigates how research decisions in translational biomedicine can be justified prospectively in order to meet bioethical requirements. What is necessary to be able to assess in advance whether probability statements about the expected success of a research project in translational biomedicine are well-founded? Which criteria can be used to accomplish this?
The „HiGHmed“ consortium is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the Medical Informatics Initiative. HiGHmed involves a dedicated Work Package “Ethics and Stakeholder”. This Work Package undertakes interdisciplinary research on ethical, policy and social issues with regard to Big Data and the collection, linking, and use of patient data in medical research and health care. Central aims of the Work Package are the development of normative frameworks and practice-oriented recommendations for governance solutions. The involvement of various stakeholders is a central concern. The results will not only support HiGHmed, but target also national and international debates.
Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice (Code Project)
In August 2019, the German Research Foundation (DFG) published the "Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice (Code)". The Code "is intended to create a deeply rooted culture of research integrity at higher education institutions, focusing less on breaches of good scientific practice and more on the professional ethics of researchers”. When the Code comes into force on 1 August 2019, all universities and non-university research institutions must implement the 19 guidelines in a legally binding manner in order to receive funding from the DFG.
Including open data as an additional indicator for the performance-based allocation of funds
The internal performance-based allocation of funds (leistungsorientierte Mittelvergabe, LOM) is an institutional incentivization tool aimed at rewarding high-quality research by using defined criteria to competitively award funding. In 2019, the Charité became the first medical faculty to include the availability of original data from scientific publications (open data) as an additional indicator for LOM alongside the usual criteria of third-party funding and publishing record.
Meta-Research Innovation Center Berlin (METRIC-Berlin)
Under the leadership of Professor John P. A. Ioannidis (Einstein BIH Visiting Fellow, funded by the Stiftung Charité) the so-called Meta-Research Innovation Center Berlin (METRIC-Berlin), the European "sister" of the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS), is being build up at the QUEST Center. The aim of the Center is to investigate the origin and the reliability, validity, accessibility and reproducibility of biomedical research. The Center is funded by the Stiftung Charité and the Einstein Foundation Berlin.
Preclinical systematic review and meta-analysis
Preclinical systematic review and meta-analysis are meta-research tools that we use to investigate some of the challenges of translational biomedical research. They provide a summary of research findings in a field and allow judgement of both the range and quality of available evidence, including the likelihood that findings are at risk of bias. The results can help us identify areas for improvement in preclinical research and inform the development of strategies to address these challenges.
We focus primarily on the review of data from studies involving animal models of stroke and other neurological diseases and have a range of ongoing projects.
With PREMIER (Predictiveness and Robustness through Modular Improvement of Experimental Research), we aim to improve the development of structured quality assurance consisting of modular elements in which high-quality preclinical research is feasible and practicable. We want to improve robustness and value of research and a proof of concept of structured quality assurance in preclinical academic biomedicine, to provide preliminary (indirect) evidence for its efficacy, and to lay the foundations for the scientific community to further jointly modify and improve such an ‘open’ system.
Publication of results from clinical trials (IntoValue)
One of our first projects, the IntoValue project, is concerned with the publication of clinical trials. The publication of all results from clinical trials is an important component for improving biomedical research and reducing the amount of unused research results.
QUEST criteria - Attributes of robust and innovative research (MERIT)
The so-called QUEST criteria relate to quality, ethics, open science and translation of biomedical research at BIH. The goal is to map the robustness, reproducibility and confirmability of research projects and hence to best possible stimulate the existing potential for innovation.
QUEST Clinical trial reporting manual
Most universities in the EU are currently failing to upload clinical trial results onto registries, leading to research waste and incomplete outcome reporting. Universities are often unclear about how to (a) upload the results of old trials, and (b) set up systems that ensure timely results posting going forward. This creates a barrier to improved performance. The aim of the project is to draw together the experiences and lessons learnt by front-runner universities that have successfully tackled the problem, and develop a hands-on manual for other universities that wish to do the same.
QUEST publication record (PURE)
The aim is to create a comprehensive and continuously updated publication body of publications from the joint research area Charité, MDC and BIH.
SPOKES - Grassroots Traction for Value-Based Research Culture
SPOKES aims to promote active grassroots involvement of researchers in the improvement of biomedical research of their own research environment. In 2020, the SPOKES Review Board will select five new SPOKES Wellcome Trust Funded Translational Partnership Fellows from mid-career researchers employed at the Charité (senior postdocs and junior group leaders) who will work together to develop, implement and track new initiatives for improving science within their own research groups. Furthermore, SPOKES will be setting-up a Think Tank for doctoral students and junior postdocs. In addition to mentoring and education opportunities, Think Tank members will receive funding for the development of a project aiming to overcome hurdles to translation.
STRUCTURES (Structure and Transparency in Translational Research) focuses on normative and practical challenges in two intertwined tools for governing translational research: A) a more explicit and structured risk-benefit analysis in early human studies and B) a more comprehensive and standardized registration and reporting of preclinical animal research.
TrackValue - Tracking and Improving Value Indicators
TrackValue aims to improve biomedical studies at the Charité by developing relevant value indicators, assessing Charité’s performance on these indicators and giving feedback to individual researchers.
Research on Translation
The project series Research on Translation aims at analysing the definition of translational research, contributing to a clearer picture of the organization of translational research, and investigating the implementation of translational research within BIH.
Survey on the research climate at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
In cooperation with the German Centre for Higher Education and Science Studies (DZHW), we conducted a survey on the research climate among all scientific employees and doctoral candidates at the Charité. The survey focused in particular on the research climate with regard to responsible research practices and translational research.
How to proceed with LOM (performance-oriented allocation of funds) & Co.?
The project "Wie weiter mit LOM & Co.?” (How to proceed with LOM & Co.?) investigates the effect of the performance-oriented allocation of funds (LOM) as an incentivizing agent to increase scientific performance in medical research at all German medical faculties.
MERIT – Implementing mechanisms of robustness and transparency into the assessments of translational research (WT BIH MERIT)
The overarching aim of WT BIH MERIT is to incentivize and reward robust and reproducible research through structured research assessments in order to increase the probability for patient-oriented translational research at BIH and Charité.
Promoting quality assurance in preclinical research (Q-EBRA) (closed)
Q-EBRA is a six month project synthesizing existing standards for preclinical research with the latest meta-research findings to improve research quality. Based on this synthesis, open educational materials are provided for use in grant review procedures.
A qualitative study on the basis of expert interviews (closed)
In response to what has been called the “reproducibility crisis”, institutions and granting agencies have begun to implement changes in how biomedical research activity is rewarded and funded. The aim of the present project is to gain a better understanding of how different stakeholders view these ongoing reforms.