The 21st century is the century of the life sciences. Life sciences are crucial to understanding living organisms and ecological systems. They provide unprecedented opportunities for understanding both genetic diseases and those triggered by external influences, and they facilitate the development of new therapies. At the same time, the life sciences have great potential for the creation of new, future-oriented jobs. Knowledge from agricultural and biosciences will be needed to secure the food supply of a growing global population. In industry, we will see gradual shift from fossil fuels to renewable resources - the emergence of a bioeconomy.
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research deals with all central research areas in the life sciences. Health research is dedicated to the molecular basics of health and illness. It aims to develop effective preventative strategies and efficient treatments. Focuses include nutrition research, the individualization of medicine, questions regarding the care of people who are ill or need long-term medical support, and the innovative capacity of the health industry.
The framework programme for health research
defines the strategic targeting of health research funding in the coming years. The new German Centres for Health Research
are to more closely link competencies, disciplines and institutions, so that research findings will reach patients more quickly in the future.
The development of innovative concepts is at the heart of bioeconomy: concepts for securing food supply and for the use of renewable resources and biotechnological processes which respect the environment, climate and resources. With the National Research Strategy BioEconomy 2030
, the BMBF is striving for a natural cycle oriented bio-based economy.
The new approaches in life sciences - their benefits and risks - are being discussed by the general public. In order to be able to base decision-making on comprehensible facts and rational arguments, the BMBF supports scientific research projects on the ethical, legal and economic aspects of health and bioscientific research.
The better we can describe and understand the elements and structures of biological systems in their complexity and predict their reaction to external factors, the more will we be able to use them for technologies that benefit humankind and the environment. Biotechnology is an important driver in this process. With the "National Research Strategy BioEconomy 2030," the Federal Government is laying the foundation for realizing a vision of a sustainable bio-based economy by 2030 - one which produces sufficient healthy food to feed the world and supplies quality products made from renewable resources.
The aim of the Federal Government's health research policy is for everyone to be able to profit from the results of research. New and improved diagnostic procedures and therapies are being developed to help sick people more effectively. And new approaches to and ways of prevention are being sought which can contribute to stopping illnesses from even occurring. Medical progress will also help to reduce costs. New operational techniques will enable less invasive treatment and, at the same time, shorten the patient's stay in hospital. The BMBF is providing health research with funds of about 5.5 billion euros between 2011 and 2014.
The Innovations in Medical Technology national strategy process is taking shape. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, and the Federal Ministry of Health in Berlin have appointed a committee of high-ranking experts from the fields of politics, industry, science and health care. This Steering Committee will bring together experts along the entire innovation chain in order to jointly develop recommendations to promote coherent innovation policy in medical technology. The Federal Government is taking up the challenges and opportunities of this field by adopting a whole-of-government approach in keeping with its High-Tech Strategy.
Life sciences will play an important role in addressing the challenges of the 21st century. Research into common diseases and individualized medicine, or sustainable agricultural production and preparation of alternative fuels - these things require many new approaches, methods and technologies. Basic research in the life sciences enables the development of the procedures and applications needed in the fields of health research and bioeconomy.
topic Hightech Strategy
It is popular wisdom that prevention is the best medicine. A BMBF research programme launched in 2003 sets out to discover why, and to what extent, prevention helps to improve people's health and quality of life.
Research on embryonic stem cells, genetic diagnostics and genetically modified organisms? How far does the freedom of research go and where are its social limits? It is the task of an innovation-oriented research policy to provide a responsible framework for scientific progress. Research on ethical, legal and social aspects of the biosciences provides the scientific foundation needed to answer these questions.