Cardiovascular medicine has made great strides in recent decades. In the past ten years, for example, myocardial infarction mortality has decreased by almost 50 percent. This development can be attributed to better medications for treating elevated cholesterol levels and fewer smokers. And yet, cardiovascular diseases remain at the top of the disease statistics: According to the German Federal Statistical Office, coronary heart disease, acute myocardial infarction and heart failure were the three most frequent causes of death in Germany in 2011.
In efforts to make further advances, patient-oriented, interdisciplinary research based on large-scale studies, cohorts and biobanks is becoming increasingly important. The German Center for Cardiovascular Disease (DZHK) has created a space for research projects of this kind. It provides a framework that allows researchers to work together to translate their research ideas into clinical practice better and faster than before. The main objective of the DZHK is to make new research results available to all patients in Germany as quickly as possible and to advance not only treatments but also diagnosis and prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
With these goals in mind, Germany’s cardiovascular disease research landscape repositioned itself in 2011 with the founding of the DZHK. Twenty-eight institutions in seven locations throughout Germany have joined forces to develop a common research strategy.
The DHZK was formally established as an association whose mode of operation is governed by statutes.
The DZHK focuses on translating new approaches in cardiovascular research into clinical practice as rapidly as possible in order to improve diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. This mission is of utmost clinical and health economic importance because in the future, the incidence of cardiovascular disease will increase further as a result of the rising incidence of metabolic disorders (obesity, diabetes) and due to demographic change.
The research activities of the DHZK focus on three main topics which are particularly important for patients and for the health system:
The DZHK is funded jointly by the federal government and nine state governments. The federal share amounting to 90 % of the total funding is financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Each DZHK partner institution receives the remaining 10 % from its respective state.