Physical and mental health are fundamental to quality of life, and medicine and health have thus always counted among the Leopoldina’s main areas of focus. In its advisory capacity to society and policymakers, the Leopoldina and its members address new developments and issues in (bio)medical research, providing a scientific perspective on the various ramifications of such issues as genetic diagnostics, personalised medicine and public health care for policy and society as a whole.
In the near future it will be possible to sequence a person’s entire genome in a reliable and fairly inexpensive way. The Leopoldina issued a statement on “Predictive Genetic Diagnostics as an Instrument of Disease Prevention” to shed light on the possibilities and limits of genetic information in the early detection and prevention of (partially) genetic diseases. The working group on Personalised Medicine focuses on issues relating to the use of genetic information in developing customised forms of treatment, e.g. for cancer patients, and on the ethical, economic and legal issues involved.
Palliative medicine is concerned with providing holistic care and relieving the symptoms of patients whose illness does not respond or no longer responds to curative treatment. Public awareness of this field of medicine has grown in recent years. However, further research is needed – for example on the effectiveness of various measures and on different care models – to advance the capacity to provide qualified and competent palliative care. The working group Palliative Medicine in Germany focuses on identifying areas where additional research is needed and compiling a research agenda.
The Leopoldina initiates and encourages public debate on health-related topics by means of events, personal conversations and participation in various committees. Examples include the Health & Nutrition advocacy group within the Industry-Science Research Alliance, which offers recommendations to the German federal government on putting its High-Tech Strategy into practice, and various events held as part of the “Year of Health Research”.
Scientific officer, Deputy Head of Department
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