Frankfurt sets its sights on kidneys

Chronic kidney ailments are a widespread disease: In Germany, more than nine million people are affected – and the trend is rising
Universitätsklinikum Frankfurt / Fotograf: Jürgen Lecher

At the University Hospital of Frankfurt, that’s why nephrology is now going to receive a massive boost. In the course of the new appointment of Prof. Thimoteus Speer, the specialized field will be upgraded to become a clinic of its own at the University Hospital. In addition, a Center for Nephrological Research is arising together with the foundation Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung.

Our kidneys excrete about 1.4 liters of urine daily. They filter chemical substances out of the body and regulate the fluid balance, the electrolyte balance, and the so-called acid-base balance. When these vital organs function for longer than three months on a limited scale or are impaired on a sustained basis, this is referred to as chronic kidney disease (CKD). In Germany, an estimated ten percent of the population are affected. 80,000 need a dialysis treatment, colloquially called a “blood washing”. 2,000 donor kidneys are transplanted annually, whereby the demand for donor organs is much higher. The causes for kidney damage are frequently found in other widespread diseases: as the long-term consequence of diabetes mellitus – in this case the probability of a kidney ailment is doubled – or hypertension (high blood pressure), in which the risk is even three times as high.

New clinic and new research center for nephrology
The University Hospital of Frankfurt – Goethe University is responding to this development, from which so many people are affected, with a clinical realignment and additional research commitment. “With the establishment of its own clinic for the Department of Nephrology, the University Hospital of Frankfurt will become an authority on chronic kidney diseases that is visible from afar, both regionally and nationally,” explains Prof. Jürgen Graf, Medical Director and Chairman of the Board at the University Hospital of Frankfurt. “Patients will benefit from the close cooperation with the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung Research Center in the form of improved and new therapies. With this cooperative effort we are taking the original concept into account that unites the University Hospital of Frankfurt and the foundation: the advancement of medical research for the common good and benefit of the general public. We thank the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung foundation that we are able to pursue this path together.” Up until now Nephrology had not had a clinic of its own at the University Hospital of Frankfurt. It had been administrated within Medical Clinic 3 (Cardiology, Angiology, Nephrology) as a functional sector headed by Prof. Helmut Geiger until March 2021. Prof. Geiger has retired.

Third center for Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung (EKFS)
The third facility of this nature in Germany is arising with the Else Kröner Fresenius Center (EKFZ) for Nephrological Research. In 2005 the foundation founded a Center for Nutritional Medicine together with the Technical University of Munich. A Center for Digital Health followed in 2019 together with the TU Dresden. Prof. Michael Madeja, Chairman of the Management Board at Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung, explains the reasons for developing a nephrological center at this location: “Kidney diseases formed a central theme in the life’s work of Else Kröner, the founder of our foundation – though they have not been any special emphasis at Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung until now. When the Goethe University of Frankfurt deliberated on making the Department of Nephrology independent in the areas of research and patient care, and consequently form a new focal point for kidney research, the foundation saw the chance to be able to initiate substantial progress in the researching of kidney diseases, and in the process to also enact what was probably the medical concern of most importance to Else Kröner in the town which was her main sphere of activity.”

New appointment with a proven expert on nephrology
The targeted objective to give new impulses to research and patient care in the area of nephrology interlinks with the new appointment of Prof. Thimoteus Speer to the chair for Nephrology. Prof. Stefan Zeuzem, Dean of the Department of Medicine at Goethe University, is a physician for internal medicine in his own right and welcomes the strengthening of the specialized field: “Prof. Dr. Dr. Speer is an outstanding scientist who has been repeatedly honored for his research work in the area of nephrology, among them with the Franz Volhard Prize awarded by the German Society for Nephrology (DGfN). His achievements as a young scientist were honored with the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize given by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), and most recently with the Stanley Shaldon Award from the European Renal Association. We are very glad that Prof. Speer will be supporting the Department of Medicine at Goethe University with his expertise in the future. In addition, his previous professorship for translational cardiorenal medicine proves him to be a scientist who transforms relevant findings from research into clinically applicable knowledge. In other words, his knowledge gets to the patient’s bed.”

Prof. Speer will commence in his new capacity at Goethe University and at the University Hospital of Frankfurt on October 1, 2022. “The opportunity to join in designing a center of excellence for nephrology and a clinic specific to a department in Frankfurt is equally a great pleasure and a challenge,” says Prof. Speer. “The support through the Else Kröner Fresenius Center puts the Frankfurt location in a position to expand research and build up the clinical infrastructure in the field of kidney diseases. In doing so it is important to me to establish patient-oriented research at the highest level. This means identifying the precise mechanisms how kidney diseases originate and progress in the laboratory, and validating the relevance of these diagnostic findings directly in clinical studies. In accomplishing this, the Department of Medicine in Frankfurt and the generous funding by Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung provide excellent prerequisites.”

Prof. Speer is a specialist for internal medicine with an emphasis on nephrology. He most recently acted as Deputy Hospital Director and Chief Physician for Renal and Hypertension Disorders at the Saarland University Medical Center. In this capacity he headed the entire transplantation center and held a university professorship for Translational Cardiorenal Medicine at Saarland University. The term cardiorenal is understood as signifying that the heart and kidneys are meant and/or affected at the same time.

For more information:
Bianka Jerke
Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung
Telephone: +49 6172 – 8975 24

Christoph Lunkenheimer
Press Spokesman
Stabsstelle Kommunikation
Universitätsklinikum Frankfurt
Telephone: +49 69 63 01 – 86 44 2

Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung (EKFS) – Advancing research. Helping people.
Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung is a non-profit foundation dedicated to the funding and advancement of medical research and the support of humanitarian projects. To date the foundation has funded around 2,300 projects. With an annual funding volume currently amounting to over 60 million euros it is the largest foundation in Germany that actively funds and supports medicine. You can find more information at:

About the University Hospital of Frankfurt
Founded in 1914, the University Hospital of Frankfurt numbers among the leading university hospital facilities in Germany. It provides its patients with the best possible medical care at 32 clinics and clinical institutes. The close relationship to science – the University Hospital and the Department of Medicine operate more than 20 research institutes – assures patients a timely transfer of new findings into diagnostic and therapeutical practice. Around 1,300 inpatient and day hospital beds are available. Numerous clinics and institutes are devoted to special medical and scientific services. Roughly 46,000 inpatients and more than 480,000 outpatients are attended to each year. The University Hospital possesses interdisciplinary competence, inter alia in the areas of the neurosciences, oncology and cardiovascular medicine. As the site for organ and bone marrow transplants, dialysis, cardiac surgery and neurosurgery, the University Hospital also performs special functions within transregional medical care. The Liver Center is the only facility for liver transplantation in the State of Hesse. Alongside cardiac surgery, a unique attribute in compliance with the service mandate pursuant to the Hessian Hospital Act also exists for the Frankfurt-Offenbach region in terms of oral and maxillofacial surgery, dermatology, as well as child and adolescent psychiatry. More than 7,500 men and women on staff look after patients around the clock.

Published by: Executive Board, University Hospital of Frankfurt. Editorial Office: Christoph Lunkenheimer, Press Spokesman, Stabsstelle Kommunikation, Theodor-Stern-Kai 7, 60590 Frankfurt am Main, Telephone: +49 69 6 3 01 – 86 44 2, eMail: