Academy of Translational Medicine Director, Dr. Poul Sorensen, is visiting Technical University Munich to learn how this top German university does its translational research


Dr. Poul Sorensen, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Director of the Academy of Translational Medicine (ATM) at UBC, is taking a short 4-month sabbatical at Technical University Munich (TUM) in the Southern German city to gain insights into how the German system supports translational medical research. Germany, and in particular TUM, has a long and distinguished track record of successfully translating their biomedical discoveries to clinical implementation. One of the main reasons for this success is that top-flight German universities are generally enrolled in the many strong networks of excellence in thematic research that exist across the country. For example, the Deutsches Krebsforschungzentrum (DKFZ) is an established network of excellence across the country that links centers with a specific focus on cancer research, not only basic and translational but also clinical trials research. This ensures a predictable level of ongoing central funding for strong programs, supports research collaborations, and avoids redundancy in research efforts. The goals of this sabbatical are, in large part, to determine if some of the lessons learned at TUM to implement translational research can be applied to the ATM, and to forge new translational research collaborations between the two universities.

Dr. Sorensen says, “There is much to gain in seeking advice from other translational medical research enterprises to determine how they have (or have not) achieved success in shortening the timeline for their biomedical to reach the level of clinical benefit, which is the over-riding goal of the ATM. There is particular benefit in looking at the German system, given that their funding system is more centralized and therefore likely much more nimble for coordinating efforts in thematic biomedical research”.

While on sabbatical at TUM, Dr. Sorensen will also continue to work on his research collaborations with esteemed members of the TUM Faculty of Medicine in pediatric cancer immunotherapy research, an area of intense interest for the Sorensen laboratory at UBC.