Life sciences in Kiel and Tartu are working together

CAU is implementing the cooperation agreed between the academic institutions

Researchers from Kiel University (CAU) met their colleagues from the University of Tartu in Estonia yesterday, Thursday 9 February, for a joint working meeting in the Centre for Molecular Biosciences (ZMB) at the state university. The meeting entitled “Evolving Health: Novel Perspectives in Genetics & Bioinformatics” covered the latest trends in health research in the fields of genetics and bioinformatics. The work carried out by the research focus “Kiel Life Science” (KLS) at CAU and the “Estonian Genome Center” in Tartu means that both universities are involved in cutting-edge research in this field.

The meeting, which was organised jointly by KLS and the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB) at Kiel University marks the beginning of German-Estonian research cooperation, which originated from the visit by the Estonian President at the time, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, to the Land capital of Schleswig-Holstein about eighteen months ago. This state visit not only symbolised closer ties between the Republic of Estonia and the state of Schleswig-Holstein. It also initiated specific collaboration projects such as more intensive cooperation in life sciences research.

“The Estonian Genome Center in Tartu with its extremely modern research infrastructure is increasingly developing into a leading international life sciences centre. We are delighted that we can now incorporate the contacts we made there into specific cooperation. Our Estonian colleagues and us here in Kiel will benefit from this intensive exchange of ideas in the future”, said Professor Thomas Bosch, spokesman for the research focus “Kiel Life Science” and one of the spiritual fathers of this collaboration. His Estonian colleague Professor Tõnu Esko, Vice-Director of the “Estonian Genome Center”, agreed: “The Estonian Genome Center has had very good collaborative links with Professor Franke and others from Kiel University. Working closely with Professor Franke’s team has really led to ground-breaking scientific discoveries in the field of autoimmune diseases, for example psoriasis. The Estonian Genome Center will launch a large scale microbiome study and with our visit to Kiel is really seeking a strategic collaboration to drive and reach new excellence in the field.”

The workshop included a wide-ranging programme focussing on topics such as personalised medicine, genetic population studies or investigating the human microbiome as a key to new approaches for treating serious diseases. An important component of the exchanges between the German and Estonian scientists was also the technical infrastructure available in each case, for example high-throughput technologies for genome sequencing. High performance equipment in this field has become a basic condition for the success of modern life sciences research. The University of Tartu has earned itself a pioneering role here in only a few years with the establishment of the “Estonian Genome Center”.

“We are impressed with the research achievements of our Estonian colleagues. They are world-class in many fields. We also observed with particular interest that a significant proportion of the population of Estonia participates in biomedical studies and donates blood for example. We have experienced such a high level of willingness to donate blood only among patients and less from healthy people in the general population”, stated Professor Andre Franke from the IKMB.

Research and the economy in the Baltic States are increasingly focussing on life sciences. Good contact to the latter therefore also plays a major role in cutting-edge research in Schleswig-Holstein. The CAU is taking this into consideration with the collaboration in the life sciences about to start between Kiel and Tartu and this continues a tradition of collaboration between the two universities going back almost thirty years.


    The researchers from Germany und Estonia: Ingolf Cascorbi, Andres Metspalu, Wolfgang Lieb, Lili Milani, Andre Franke, Philip Rosenstiel, Tõnu Esko, Elin Org, Hinrich Schulenburg, Krista Fischer, Mait Metspalu (left ro right).
    Photo: Christian Urban, Universität Kiel
    Researchers from Kiel and Tartu met to discuss the latest trends in health research in the fields of genetics and bioinformatics.
    Photo: Christian Urban, Universität Kiel
    Dr. Mait Metspalu from Tartu gave insight into the reconstruction of population history from genetic diversity patterns.
    Photo: Christian Urban, Universität Kiel
    With the official visit of then Estonian President Toomas Ilves (second from left) to Kiel University in May 2015, the way was paved for the German-Estonian research collaboration.
    Photo: Christian Urban, Universität Kiel


Prof. Andre Franke
Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Kiel University
Tel.: +49 (0)431-500-15110

Prof. Thomas Bosch
Zoological Institute, Kiel University
Tel.: +49 (0)431-880-4170

More information:
Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Kiel University

Research focus “Kiel Life Science”, Kiel University

“Estonian Genome Center”, University of Tartu

Kiel University
Press, Communication and Marketing, Dr. Boris Pawlowski
Address: D-24098 Kiel, phone: +49 (0431) 880-2104, fax: +49 (0431) 880-1355
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Text / Redaktion: ► Christian Urban