To fulfil this agreement, the 5th Petersburg Dialogue (co-ordinators: Prof. Bergmann, German Academic Exchange Council; Prof. Hahn, Charité and Berlin Medical Association; Prof. Verbitskaya and Prof Trojan, St Petersburg State University) decided to transfer the execution of this agreement to a German/Russian working party of infection specialists – named the Koch-Metchnikov-Forum, after bacteriologist Robert Koch, who described Mycobacterium tuberculosis as the etiologic agent of tuberculosis (TB), and immunologist Ilya Metchnikov, whose work on macrophages forms the basis of the understanding of infection immunology. In October 2006, the Koch-Metchnikov-Forum was officially founded and mandated on the occasion of the 6th Petersburg Dialogue in Dresden, attended by President Vladimir Putin and Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Koch-Metchnikov-Forum, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), is politically mandated and welcomed and there is close and valued interaction with German and Russian governments within the framework of the Petersburg Dialogue.
Koch-Metchnikov-Forum specific aims
l Exchange of humans, ideas and resources between both countries
l Furthering of scientific, clinical and social projects in the fight against infectious diseases
l Organisation of TB-related symposia, congresses, workshops
l Furthering of young scientists and physicians from both countries
l Furthering continuous medical education of physicians and healthcare workers in both countries
l Advice for the governments.
Already existing TB projects were integrated into the Forum: Since 2001, collaborative projects in basic science (mainly infection immunology in human TB) are ongoing, with partners in Moscow (Central TB Research Institute), St. Petersburg (Institute for Phthisiopulmonology), and Tomsk (Siberian State Medical University).
With basic science TB immunology projects being extended by joint projects in microbiological diagnostics and TB epidemiology, the number of scientific partners enlarged. Already, studies in TB control have resulted in several scientific publications in high-ranked peer-reviewed journals. The TB section is now accompanied by sections specialised in HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, transfusion medicine, e-health and hospital management. In addition, a central secretariat co-ordinates intersectional projects and is the contact address for German/Russian partners and institutions. Besides partners in the Russian Federation, institutions in Moldova, Uzbekistan and Kazachstan are now Forum members.
The TB projects, and subsequently the foundation and organisation of the Forum, are funded by the International Office of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (IB-BMBF) and the German Academic Exchange Council (DAAD). In January 2006, there was also project-oriented funding by private companies (mainly medical and diagnostics).
In 2005, the Robert Bosch Foundation awarded it prize for civil engagement to the Russian TB control studies. During the TB Symposium held on World Tuberculosis Day 2008, the Koch-Metchnikov-Forum received the innovation award ‘Selected Landmark 2008 in Germany – Land of Ideas’.