Press Release


Secure and Intelligent Use of Patient Data

Six Helmholtz centers are joining together to conduct research on how patient data can be processed securely and efficiently. The focus is on the well-being of patients and the protection of their privacy. The new Helmholtz Medical Security, Privacy and AI Research Center (HMSP) will bring together researchers from the fields of IT security, privacy, artificial intelligence and medicine. Among other objectives, they will jointly develop solutions for personalized medicine.

[Translate to Englisch:] © Kzenon/

Researchers throughout the world collect patient data from blood samples, x-rays or gene analyses on a daily basis. With this data, for example, they hope to develop new therapies for common diseases such as dementia, cancer, heart attack or stroke. The secure and efficient evaluation of this ever-growing volume of biomedical data is a major challenge for researchers. Personalized medicine has meanwhile become a key issue for our society. It offers patients promising opportunities for novel, precise and individual treatment methods. In addition, it is also a rapidly growing market - driven by the dramatic developments in artificial intelligence (AI). Personalized medicine is therefore also an important factor for Germany as a business location. In order to take advantage of these opportunities, secure handling of the patient data necessary for personalized medicine must be ensured. The HMSP is working toward this goal. 

“Digitalization in medicine offers great opportunities. But it also requires trust. Are my data secure? This is the question people ask themselves especially with regard to highly sensitive data such as medical results. If we want to take advantage of the opportunities personalized medicine has to offer, we must ensure data confidentiality. At the Helmholtz Medical Security, Privacy and AI Research Center, leading experts in computer science and medicine will explore this issue and develop secure applications for personalized medicine,” said German Federal Minister of Research Anja Karliczek. Ninety percent of the funding for the Helmholtz Association is provided by the federal government. 

"The collection, analysis, and processing of these vast medical data sets provide researchers with unprecedented insights and open up new perspectives. Doing this in a trustworthy, secure and efficient way requires completely new methods and interdisciplinary research," said Professor Michael Backes, founding director of CISPA - Helmholtz Center for Information Security and HMSP spokesperson. Thanks to innovative methods developed at CISPA, efficient analysis and processing of patient data in encrypted form will be possible in the future. Backes added: "This will ensure the privacy of this highly sensitive information and at the same time provide researchers with essential access to data for the further development of personalized medicine."

Since autumn 2018, CISPA has been working together with the scientists of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) within the HMSP. In the meantime, four other Helmholtz centers have joined them: the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) and Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health (HMGU).

"The digitalization of medicine holds enormous potential, but at the same time requires reliable standards for the secure handling of patient data. At the HMSP, solutions will be jointly developed that will directly benefit our research in the field of "Mobile Health" and our new Center for Individualized Infection Medicine (CiiM)," said Professor Dirk Heinz, scientific director of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig.

Further Information

HMSP website:



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