The 2022 Prize for Translational Infection Research of the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), endowed with 5,000 euros, goes to the DZIF scientist and epidemiologist Gérard Krause. Prof. Krause researches the spread and clinical consequences of infectious diseases in the population and develops methods for their prevention, diagnosis and epidemic control. He has now been honoured with the DZIF Prize for his outstanding contributions in the field of translational infection epidemiology and in particular for the development of the epidemic management system SORMAS.
In his research, Prof. Gérard Krause investigates the causes and risk factors for infections as well as the effectiveness of protective measures. One focus is the development of digital instruments and new diagnostic procedures. During the 2014/2015 West African Ebola fever epidemic, Prof. Krause, together with partners from Nigeria and Germany, developed the Surveillance, Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System—SORMAS.
As a digital process management system, SORMAS allows early detection and analysis of epidemics and in particular the management of appropriate control measures. In several countries in Africa, Asia and Europe, SORMAS has already proven its effectiveness in controlling large epidemics of Lassa fever, monkeypox, meningitis, measles and the COVID-19 pandemic. In Germany, more than 130 public health departments have also used SORMAS for pandemic response.
"Gérard Krause has made a decisive contribution to the containment of epidemics as the key inventor of the epidemic management system SORMAS," writes Prof. Otmar Wiestler, President of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers, in his letter of recommendation for the award. "The ability to cover any emerging infectious disease with SORMAS makes a crucial contribution to future pandemic preparedness," he adds.
After earning his doctorate in medicine in Heidelberg in 1993, Prof. Gérard Krause worked in internal medicine, tropical medicine, hospital hygiene and epidemiology in Germany and the USA. From 2000 to 2013, he acted first as head of division and later as head of department at the Robert Koch Institute, Berlin. After his venia legendi in 2005, he was appointed chair at the Hannover Medical School in 2011 and head of the Department of Epidemiology at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig. He is co-founder of the NAKO Health Study, one of the largest prospective cohort studies worldwide. In 2012, he founded the first PhD programme in epidemiology in Germany. Until 2020, he coordinated the DZIF infrastructure Epidemiology. Since 2017, he has also been the Institute Director at TWINCORE, Center for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research GmbH in Hannover.
The prize, endowed with 5,000 euros, will be ceremoniously presented to Prof. Krause at the DZIF Annual Meeting on 25/26 September 2023 in Hanover.
More about SORMAS:
As open source e-health software, SORMAS is recognised as a Digital Global Good and can be used without license fees. Unlike many other digital systems in this field, SORMAS enables networked and multidirectional information exchange, for example between hospitals, laboratories and health authorities. In doing so, SORMAS can also be used on mobile devices outside of cellular networks.
Besides experts from Nigeria and the Hasso Plattner Institute, three DZIF member institutions participated in the development of SORMAS—in addition to the HZI, the Robert Koch Institute and the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine. An increasing number of public health and research institutes from over eight countries are actively involved in the further development and implementation of SORMAS under the leadership of Gérard Krause, including the IT companies Vitagroup Ag and Netzlink GmbH. Funding for the research and development of SORMAS was almost exclusively provided by research funds from the German Federal Government, the State of Lower Saxony, and the European Union.
Under the guidance of Gérard Krause, the HZI recently established the non-profit SORMAS Foundation, which has the purpose of supporting health authorities worldwide in the prevention and control of epidemics with open source software tools such as SORMAS.