The DZNE researches the phenomenon of neurodegeneration and the wide range of diseases it triggers. In addition to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, this also includes less common diseases such as frontotemporal dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinocerebellar ataxia, and childhood dementia.
The term “neurodegeneration” stands for a pathological, steadily progressive process that damages neurons. Degeneration disrupts their function and they may ultimately die off. This development can lead to dementia, cause movement disorders, and severely affect a person’s health in other ways as well.
So far, there are no therapies that could stop or even slow down the death of neurons. Current treatments can, at best, alleviate symptoms of disease. There is also no effective early diagnosis, and the causes of neurodegeneration are poorly understood – especially as each neurodegenerative disease has its own characteristics. Moreover, these diseases not only affect patients; they also place an enormous burden on the many family members who are involved caring for their sick relatives each and every day. The situation therefore calls for new health care concepts that improve the quality of life of all those affected.
In light of these many open questions, the DZNE pursues an interdisciplinary scientific strategy that covers five interconnected research areas: Fundamental Research, Clinical Research, Health Care Research, Population Health Sciences, and Systems Medicine. The DZNE is thus dedicated to exploring the entire spectrum: from investigating the molecular processes of disease in the laboratory to conducting human studies. Moreover, we look into protection and risk factors in the population, and develop interventions for care and treatment. Each topic is part of our overall strategy, which strives to effectively link all research areas. After all, our purpose is to ensure that research findings are applied in the medical field and in everyday life. Such efforts to build a bridge between science and practical application are called “translation.”
This is our commitment – day in, day out.