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About us - Press - Press releases – 1 July 2010

Modern science on the trail of an ancient healing art
HanseMerkur Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in Hamburg opens

Hamburg (Germany), 1 July 2010. The opening of the HanseMerkur Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf marks the establishment of the first scientific center in the Federal Republic of Germany completely devoted to the increasingly popular far eastern art of healing. Research, teaching and therapy are united under one roof. Methods from systems biology and information technology ensure the compatibility with the natural sciences of laboratory and clinical research, and research into medical care. The TCM Center comprises a non-profit limited liability research company and an independent medical practice.

Partners in the non-profit research institution are the HanseMerkur Insurance Group (52%), the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (24%) and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg (24%). Explaining the commitment of his company, Fritz Horst Melsheimer, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the HanseMerkur Insurance Group, says: “As an innovative private health insurance corporation, we have been offering top-ranking insurance rates to cover reimbursement of the costs of supplementary medicine since 1992. All therapeutic measures in the field of traditional Chinese medicine are covered. We expect that the scientific study of this far-eastern art of healing will contribute to a definition of transparent quality standards for TCM medicine in Germany. The customers of HanseMerkur will profit in two ways from this: In addition to high-quality classical western medicine they will also receive access to optimal and efficient natural remedies.”

Prof Dr med. Jörg F. Debatin, Medical Director of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), also welcomes the new facility at the UKE: “We are grateful to HanseMerkur and the City of Hamburg for their commitment. As an advocate of evidence-based medicine, I am very happy that the UKE will have an opportunity to cooperate with the TCM Center in studies to investigate the influence mechanisms of traditional Chinese medicine. In addition this care unit independent of the UKE provides a further component expanding the range of treatment offered by the Eppendorf Health Park.”

Hamburg’s State Secretary for Science, Bernd Reinert, emphasizes the gain the center represents for Hamburg’s research environment: “Hamburg is increasingly establishing its reputation as a Chinese center. In addition to political and economic links, the area of science is becoming an increasingly important focus. The establishment of the TCM Center at the UKE offers the city a unique opportunity, since it is the first center in Germany to be devoted exclusively to traditional Chinese medicine. I am pleased that we have been able to find such a strong partner for the project as HanseMerkur. The Center has a solid foundation and the science location as a whole has been enriched by a further facet.”

The partners anticipate that clinical and laboratory research at the joint center will provide evidence of the effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Laboratory research will, for instance, study the neurobiological mechanisms of acupuncture and the effects of herbs on the nervous system, immunology and the hormonal system. In addition, the holistic effects of TCM treatment will be investigated using the physical methods of gasliquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Methods from systems biology will also be applied, while data analysis will utilize bioinformatics.

Thanks to the well-established links between Hamburg and China, close collaboration and a strengthening of cooperation in science and teaching have been agreed between the TCM and Fudan University in Hamburg’s sister city Shanghai. Research cooperation has also been agreed with the UKE, the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and the Dutch research institution TNO in Utrecht.

The directors of the HanseMerkur Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, at which German and Chinese doctors will work, are the former Hamburg State Secretary for Science Dr Roland Salchow and the physician Dr med. Sven Schröder. The neurologist and experienced TCM practitioner heads an independent private medical practice for Chinese medicine within the Center and is looking forward to the scientific insights to be gained: “I can see the positive effects of all the Chinese methods of treatment every day in my practice. Now a possibility has been created to gain additional research proof of their success.”

Physicist and former State Secretary Dr Roland Salchow, who has spent years preparing the ground for the TCM Center on behalf of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, sums up what has been achieved to date positively: “The long preparation was worthwhile: the partnership between Hamburg and Shanghai has given rise to a house where eastern knowledge and western science come together. With the help of physics and biology we want to link ancient experience with modern science. This corresponds to the people’s desire to be treated individually and without side effects.”

HanseMerkur Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg

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