Goethe University Frankfurt founds Institute for Digital Medicine

To promote research into new developments in healthcare, Goethe University Frankfurt has set up the Institute for Digital Medicine and Clinical Data Sciences, and appointed Professor Janne Vehreschild to the new “Digital Medicine and Clinical Data Sciences” professorship. Vehreschild will also become the institute’s founding director. Dr. Rolf M. Schwiete Stiftung will fund the professorship with around 1.2 million over the next five years.

Prof. Dr. Janne Vehreschild, Goethe University Frankfurt. Photo: Uwe Dettmar

In its 2021 annual report, the German council of experts assessing developments in the healthcare system, chaired by general practitioner Prof. Ferdinand Gerlach of Goethe University Frankfurt, once again called for Germany to make better use of the opportunities offered by digitalization to improve medical research and patient care. When it comes to the areas of data exchange and the secondary use of clinical data, the nationwide medical informatics initiative has already made great progress. By mid-2025, German health insurance providers are to automatically create an electronic patient file for every insured person, allowing it to be linked to scientific data. Telemedicine and “mobile health” applications are also becoming increasingly common.

To advance research into new developments in healthcare, thereby optimizing patient care and at the same time making health data usable for biomedical research, Goethe University Frankfurt has set up the Institute for Digital Medicine and Clinical Data Science, whose founding director – hematologist, oncologist, internist and data specialist Professor Janne Vehreschild – has been appointed to a professorship of the same name. It is funded with around €1.2 million by Dr. Rolf M. Schwiete Stiftung for a period of five years.

Highlighting the importance of the new institute, Goethe University President Professor Enrico Schleiff says: “In Professor Janne Vehreschild, we have been able to attract an excellent expert for this professorship, who operates in relevant national and international research networks. As the institute’s founding director, he will drive forward key impulses to ensure even further networking between our bioinformatics and medical informatics professorships and our new Center for Critical Computational Studies – C3S – as well as the facilities of the University Hospital. This will allow us to make great contributions in the fields of research with health data as well as digital information and treatment systems. We can do all of this thanks to the funding provided for the endowed professorship by Dr. Rolf M. Schwiete Stiftung, for whose great commitment to Goethe University Frankfurt I am once again deeply thankful.”

Professor Jürgen Graf, medical director and chairman of the board of Frankfurt University Hospital, is certain: “Data science and digitalization are among the core elements of Frankfurt University Hospital’s strategic development. That is one of the reasons why, in 2021, we established the University Center for Digital Health Care [UCDHC], which bundles and advances everything related to digital strategy, digitalization projects and the promotion of young talent. UCDHC is made up of our IT department [headed by Jens Schulze], the Medical Information Systems and Digitalization department [headed by CMIO Dr. Michael von Wagner], and the Institute of Medical Informatics [headed by Prof. Dr. Holger Storf]. We are delighted that Professor Janne Vehreschild has decided to strengthen this important future field at Frankfurt University Hospital, and promote data-based medicine together with the UCDHC support structure.”

Dr. Jürgen Staiger, chairman of Dr. Rolf M. Schwiete Stiftung, emphasizes: “During the corona crisis, the public became aware of how important health data – such as infection figures and vaccination rates – as well as digital tools such as the corona app are to managing the crisis. We are proud that we can make an important contribution to the medicine and healthcare system of tomorrow with the Dr. Rolf M. Schwiete endowed professorship for Digital Medicine and Clinical Data Science.”

Janne Vehreschild, born 1978, studied human medicine in Bonn while working as a freelance database and software developer for IT companies. He completed his doctorate at RWTH Aachen University in 2008. Before moving to Medical Clinic 2 of Frankfurt University Hospital’s Center for Internal Medicine as a senior physician, he worked from 2005 to 2019 at Cologne University Hospital’s Clinic I for Internal Medicine, first as a research assistant and then as a senior physician for internal medicine and hematology and oncology, with an additional qualification in infectiology. In 2013, Vehreschild founded the “Cohorts in Infection Research” working group in Cologne, which the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) funded as an independent junior research group. He was appointed professor for Translational Cohorts in HIV Research at the University of Cologne in 2017.

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