Medicine for all: Marie von Lilienfeld-Toal appointed to professorship
| Ronja Münch
Since July 1 of this year, Marie von Lilienfeld-Toal has been Professor of "Health Services Research in Oncology" at the Ruhr University Bochum (RUB). The chair will soon be renamed "Diversity Medicine", and von Lilienfeld-Toal is also establishing the first German Institute for Diversity Medicine.
Marie von Lilienfeld-Toal has been associated with the Leibniz-HKI with her Infections in Hematology/Oncology group since her appointment at Friedrich Schiller University Jena in 2013, and she also conducted research at the University Hospital Jena. Her team studies invasive fungal infections in particular, which are especially dangerous for cancer patients. For example, it was involved in the development of an "aspergillosis-on-chip" model that investigates the infection mechanisms of the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus in the lungs.
As a physician, von Lilienfeld-Toal is also concerned with side effects of therapies - which are not the same for everyone. "My goal is a medicine that takes maximum account of the context in which a person finds himself or herself and thereby contributes to health equality for all population groups," she is quoted as saying in an article published by the RUB.
The new Institute for Diversity Medicine addresses these contexts, which have often been ignored in medicine, resulting in poorer care for certain populations. Because many medical studies have been conducted only on men from Europe or America, diseases in other populations - whether of a different gender, skin color or culture - are often less well recognized or treated. For example, heart attacks in women are often not diagnosed in a timely manner and skin diseases on darker skin are overlooked.
One of the aims of the Institute for Diversity Medicine is to improve the data situation in Germany on the consequences of this unequal treatment. Currently, there are mainly studies from the U.S. that show worse treatment of marginalized populations.
Marie von Lilienfeld-Toal will remain closely associated with Leibniz-HKI through her participation in the DFG Collaborative Research Center FungiNet (Transregio).