Why research needs diversity

A data gap that threatens timely diagnosis and treatment for half the population, the visibility of female researchers in Wikipedia, and myriads of microbes in and on our bodies – the Max Delbrück Center's program for the Berlin Science Week 2023 is focused on dimensions of diversity.


Biomedicine has long neglected sex and gender. Yet it has a profound impact on our health. Women, for example, often have to wait far too long to get diagnosed correctly when they have a heart attack or when they are in pain, and their treatment is less evidence-based. Most research data on diseases or on the mode of action and dosage of drugs comes from male cells, laboratory animals or male study participants. The resulting data gap blinds researchers to sex- and gender-related differences in health risks, symptoms, or response to therapy. Drawing from their work on the cardiovascular system, microbiome, neurobiology and psychology, scientists from the Max Delbrück Center and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin will emphasize why sex and gender should be taken into account in all research questions and discuss how these knowledge gaps can be closed.

“Sex and gender disparities in medical research and practice”: November 8, 2023, 5:00- 7:00 pm, Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology of the Max Delbrück Center (MDC-BIMSB), Elsa Neumann Communication Room, ground floor, Hannoversche Str. 28, 10115 Berlin.

With Sofia Forslund-Startceva | Claudia Crocini | Sabine Klaassen | Hanna Hörnberg | Gertraud Stadler | Welcome: Maike Sander, Scientific Director of the Max Delbrück Center. Presentations and discussion in English. Registration required.

More female scientists in Wikipedia

Marie Curie, Emmanuelle Charpentier, Katalin Karikó – female scientists whose achievements are known to the public are still the exception. Diversity in STEM is barely visible. In Wikipedia, only about 17 percent of all biographies are about women, and people of color and other groups are also severely underrepresented in the internet encyclopedia. To change that and make Wikipedia more diverse, the Max Delbrück Center and the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité (BIH) are jointly hosting the “Berlin Diversithon” on November 8, an edit-a-thon to develop new content for the encyclopedia. Equal Opportunities Officers Christiane Nolte and Karin Höhne, and science communicator Franziska Sattler-Morrison are supporting the participants.

“Berlin Diversithon”: November 8, 2023, 4:00- 7:30 pm, Rahel Hirsch Center for Translational Medicine, Luisenstr. 65, 10117 Berlin. Registration required.

Virus diversity in wastewater

Imagine the weather report on the radio not only announces an autumn storm, but also warns of an infection wave: cloudy, with the prospect of flu. In fact, such a “virus alert" could help to curb waves of infection in time. We can obtain the necessary data from our wastewater, among other things. The murky waters are an invaluable treasure trove of information, from various pathogens to antibiotic resistance. If you regularly take samples and analyze the genetic material they contain, you can see, for example, which viruses and virus variants are circulating in the population – and in what quantities. Emanuel Wyler and Markus Landthaler explain the potential of wastewater monitoring for a better understanding of environmental changes and, above all, for the prevention of infectious diseases at the Museum für Naturkunde.

“Tracking the viruses in and around us”: November 4, 2023, 4:30 - 5:45 p.m., Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, room “Deep Dive Forum.”

Microscopic cohabitants

Microbes and modern sequencing methods are also the topic of the training course “Lab meets Teacher.” Without the mix of bacteria on and in our bodies, the microbiota, we would not be who we are. They influence not only our cardiovascular system or intestines, but also our psyche. And there are a lot of them: Our bodies are home to about as many bacterial cells as human cells. Theda Bartolomaeus from Sofia Forslund-Startceva’s research group shows how we use the latest technologies to study the microbial universe within us and what we already know about its importance for our health. One lesson: the more diverse the microbial community, the better for us.

Lab meets Teacher – digitally! “The Human Metaorganism and How New Techniques are Changing a Field of Research”: November 8, 2023, 4:00 - 5:30 pm, online.

Berlin Postdoc Day

In addition, dedicated post docs from Berlin's research institutions have once again organized the “Berlin PostDoc Day.” Here, early-career scientists from all over Berlin meet to share their research, to meet each other and to inform and educate themselves about possible career paths in workshops.

Berlin Postdoc Day 2023, November 2 and 3, 2023, Humboldt Graduate School, Luisenstr. 56, 10117 Berlin.


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