Mr. Schultze, how many of the techniques you use in research today existed when you were studying medicine?
None at all. Stop, that's not true: There were computers back then in the 1980s!
But they were much slower than today's computers.
Yes, and that's exactly what we need for precision medicine: First, we need the ability to obtain a great deal of data - this requires the technology with which we decode the genome, and that didn't exist back then. Second, we need extremely powerful computing power to be able to work with the data. Much of what we can realize in research today was not even imaginable a few years ago.
What made you decide to specialize in precision medicine?
There was an aha moment in the late 1990s. I was doing research in Boston at Harvard Medical School, and one floor above me sat Todd Golub. He was using a technique that allowed you to measure which genes were present in different cells even before the invention of DNA sequencing. He was the first to apply that to a specific disease and made great progress in treating leukemia. That fascinated me incredibly and that's why I went into this field.
The entire interview (German only) by Kilian Kirchgeßner with Joachim Schultze can be found in the current issue of the DZG magazine Synergie #2/2021.
The German Centers for Health Research (DZG) work closely together to share experience and exploit synergies. In this way, they aim to develop better therapies and diagnostic procedures for the major common diseases. The German Centers for Health Research are funded by the BMBF and the host states. The research magazine "SYNERGIE - Research for Health" of the German Centers for Health Research is published twice a year in printed form and can be subscribed to at info(at)dzg-magazin.de.