AwardERC Grant for Heidelberg Infection Researcher

20 December 2023

Claudia Denkinger receives top-level funding from European Research Council

For her research into intelligent tuberculosis screening for children, associate professor Dr Claudia Denkinger, a scientist at the Medical Faculty Heidelberg of Heidelberg University, has earned valuable financial support from the European Research Council (ERC). With her team, the infectious disease researcher develops a prognosis app that calculates the individual risk of tuberculosis and consequently allows for the targeted use of complex diagnostics in low-resource regions. For this project she is receiving an ERC Consolidator Grant. It comes with funding amounting to approximately two million euros for a period of five years.

Porträt: Dr. Claudia Denkinger

Dr Denkinger says that far more than half of paediatric patients suffering from tuberculosis are not recognised as having the disease, and hence not treated accordingly, because very few diagnostic resources and laboratory capacities, if any, are available where they present to care. This is where her Find TB projects starts. With her team, the scientist aims to develop an app that uses suitable data to calculate the individual risk of tuberculosis infection with the aid of artificial intelligence. The focus is on children with symptoms such as coughing, fever or breathing difficulties, who, due to certain key factors, have a high risk of having tuberculosis. The planned Find TB app intends to enable local health services to make a preselection, so that complex, expensive test methods can be used in a targeted way. “We want our app to contribute to clearly improving diagnosis, in particular in low-resource regions, in order to get a better grip on this infectious disease − which is still responsible for over a quarter of a million deaths among children every year globally,” says the scientist, who heads the Clinical Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine Division at the Center for Infectious Diseases at Heidelberg University Hospital.

Claudia Denkinger studied medicine at the University of Würzburg, where she also took her doctorate after a year and a half research period at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio (USA). In 2008/2009 she earned a master’s degree from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (UK). From 2005 the physician and researcher held various positions in the United States, including at Harvard Medical School in Boston, as well as in South Africa and Canada. In 2014, she transferred to the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva (Switzerland), where she directed the tuberculosis programme and set up a hepatitis programme. In 2019, she became head of the Clinical Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine Division at Heidelberg University Hospital. In 2020, Dr Denkinger completed her habilitation at the Medical Faculty Heidelberg. In her research, she concentrates on developing, testing and implementing diagnostic instruments designed primarily for detecting infectious diseases in low-resource settings.

The European Research Council awards the ERC Consolidator Grant to outstanding researchers with the aim of consolidating their independent research. The central criterion for funding is scientific excellence.

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