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Investigators from the Kennedy Institute travelled to Berlin last week for a two-day Workshop aimed at sparking international collaboration in the area of chronic inflammatory and degenerative disease research.

Kir drfz workshop berlin 1

The Kennedy Institute and the Deutsches Rheuma-Forschungszentrum (DRFZ; Berlin) share an interest in understanding causes and developing cures for inflammatory and degenerative disease. The Workshop brought together researchers from both institutions to discuss complementary research programmes and identify new opportunities to work together.

The event represents one of several academic workshops that are being organised across disciplines to further collaboration between the University of Oxford and four Berlin research Institutes. This is part of a recently announced partnership between Oxford and Berlin that is anticipated to include the establishment of an Oxford-Berlin Research Centre.

Professor Katja Simon, who organised the workshop, said: "The Oxford Berlin Institute initiative has given the two rheumatology research institutes an opportunity to meet up in a friendly non-competitive environment. We discussed submitting joint grant proposals and compared epidemiological findings, therapies and clinical trials for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and other chronic inflammatory diseases. This is an unprecedented approach to work across borders on these important topics."

In his opening remarks, Professor Alastair Buchan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of Brexit Strategy at the University of Oxford, set out how the research partnership had been developed over the past year to enable researchers in Berlin and Oxford to collaborate in particular research areas, spanning not only Medical Sciences, but also in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences. He said that although the partnership was one signed up to by the leadership of the five institutions involved, it was – crucially – envisaged as a "bottom-up" initiative, aimed at adding value through collaborative research, student exchange, and the sharing of ideas.

This was followed by a series of talks that introduced the strategic approach of each institute, as well as informal sessions designed to foster new interactions and collaboration.

The organisers Prof Katja Simon, Prof Fiona Powrie and Prof Andreas Radbruch would like to thank sponsors of the Workshop: Berliner Sparkasse, the Oxford-Berlin Research Centre and Miltenyi Biotec.