Taking stock of presidency of the European University Hospital Alliance (EUHA)
Showing how to give people faster access to innovative therapies or how to make it possible to exchange intensive care nurses Europe-wide in a crisis situation – those are just two of the initiatives that Charité – Universitätsmedizin has advanced during its presidency of the European University Hospital Alliance (EUHA). The alliance’s activities help to make the healthcare systems of European countries more resilient for the future and ensure that they respond to patients’ interests. Charité turned over the EUHA presidency today to Karolinska University Hospital, in Sweden, after six months at the helm.
Present-day challenges facing the healthcare sector include advances in technology, completely new medical possibilities and their costs, and the aging of populations across much of Europe. There is also a growing need to be able to respond to the ripple effects of crises such as pandemics and natural disasters. The EUHA brings together excellent university partners in research and medical care. They participate in strategic networks and working groups, seeking solutions to pressing issues.
Charité has initiated new projects and gotten others off the ground in the past few months. They include EUCARE, a training and continuing education project that is intended to enable the Europe-wide exchange of intensive care nurses in crisis situations and to help coordinate these activities. The project is expected to launch later this year. It is one of the first initiatives of its kind in nursing.
Advocating broad access to new cell and gene therapies
JOIN4ATMP, a project just recently approved for funding by the European Commission, aims to help accelerate the development – and thus, broad-based availability – of innovative treatments known as advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs) in Europe. ATMPs are based on genes, tissue, or cells, so they often contain living components. For example, it is possible to take white blood cells from a person with leukemia and genetically modify them in a lab so that, once reintroduced into the body, they can detect and destroy cancer cells.
Although there are many ATMPs currently in development, very few have been approved for the European market. The problem is that conventional regulatory rules for approval of medicinal products do not translate directly to complex gene and cell therapies. This is where the new Charité-led project comes in, working to develop specific recommendations. It operates at the Europe-wide level to bring together expertise from university medicine and the biotech sector in the preclinical development, production, clinical trials, and regulatory approval of ATMPs, along with compensation for these treatments. The project was launched against the backdrop of an international virtual institute created by the EUHA, the European Center for Gene and Cellular Cancer Therapies (EUCCAT), whose mission is to make new treatments affordable and available to all patients.
Karolinska University Hospital takes over presidency from Charité
Prof. Heyo K. Kroemer, CEO of Charité and the departing EUHA president, commented at the semiannual meeting of EUHA members in Berlin: “Coming together in the EUHA, sharing information and exchanging views efficiently, and supporting each other have been highly valuable, and not just in crisis situations like the pandemic. Even now, when the task at hand is to realign our healthcare systems, we can continue to learn from each other and achieve a lot together. Over the past few months, we have brought in innovative research projects and other projects centering on new approaches to training and continuing education, all of which will help to ensure that patients in Europe continue to receive top-notch care. We couldn’t have done all this if not for our close collaboration with excellent partners in the EUHA.”
Charité also intensified dialogue with European stakeholders during its presidency. In talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Kroemer addressed key issues relating to healthcare system reform and presented possible solutions. Coping with the demographic situation in Europe as a whole and in the individual countries, Kroemer noted, will require timely recruitment of skilled workers, but also increased use of digital applications to handle work that does not necessarily require human intervention. Standardized foundations and coordination of the structures and systems in place at the European level are crucial to new approaches to the digital transition, which are unlocking opportunities for more preventive healthcare in patients’ home environments, for example, and to innovation in biomedicine.
Charité passed the EUHA presidency to Karolinska University Hospital today. To meet the moment and forge ahead with processes that are already in progress, the two institutions will work together during this presidency. In October, Charité and the leading university hospital in Sweden signed a memorandum of understanding intensifying the cooperation between them.
The European University Hospital Alliance is made up of ten leading European university hospitals with demonstrated excellence in healthcare, education, and research: Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark; Greater Paris University Hospitals, France; Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany; Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, Netherlands; Ospedale San Raffaele, Milan, Italy; Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden; King’s Health Partners, London, UK; University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium; University Hospital Vienna & Medical University of Vienna, Austria; and Vall d’Hebron Barcelona Hospital Campus, Spain. The institutions work together to improve patient care now and in the future. All members have a capacity of more than 1,000 beds and are centers of excellence in research as well as national reference centers. They cover the existing European Reference Networks (ERNs). The alliance’s motto, “Leading by Doing,” stands for its intention to be a capable advisor at the European level and develop innovative solutions for central challenges in the European healthcare sector.
European University Hospital Alliance (EUHA)
Interview with Heyo K. Kroemer on the conclusion of this year’s EUHA presidency
EUHA activities led by Charité
Press release dated June 16, 2023, on the start of Charité’s EUHA presidency
Press release on the MoU signed by Charité, Karolinska Institutet, and Karolinska University Hospital
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
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