BioWorld International Correspondent

BORNHEIM, Germany - German research minister Edelgard Bulmahn disclosed a new biotechnology research framework in which the German government over five years will give grants totaling more than DM1.5 billion (US$704 million) to support further development.

An additional DM350 million will be granted to establish a national network for genome research.

Securing and enhancing employment are major goals of the program as well as supporting and educating young biotechnologists and translating the knowledge from genomics to fight disease.

About DM380 million of the DM1.5 billion is earmarked for improvement of structural preconditions for biotechnology research, such as academia-academia as well as academia-industry cooperations on a national level and enhancement of know-how. In a program called "Bio-Chance," start-up companies could receive DM100 million for support of industrial research and development.

Most of budget is planned to be granted for further enhancement of science and technology. About DM875 million will be available over the next five years to increase knowledge in human, microbial and plant genomics and structural molecular biology. Training and education in bioinformatics is also a high priority, while nanotechnology and neuroscience are other fields that will be supported.

Turning biotechnology knowledge into application is fueled by about DM170 million during the next five years. Tissue engineering, environmental, production and nutritional issues are included in this part of the budget.

Research on provisions and safety will be granted with DM125 million. That includes safety research on GM plants and bacteria, research on issues of biodiversity and animal protection in research.

The ministry gains knitting a national network on genome research. Important aspects for the ministry are focusing personnel and capacity in high-throughput technologies and platform technologies such as proteomics and bioinformatics. Priorities are on medical use and technology transfer. The network will focus on cardiovascular diseases, cancer, central nervous system diseases, genetic factors of diseases caused by environment, infections and inflammatory diseases. For the genome network, the government plans an additional budget of DM350 million by 2003.