University of Basel Establishes Endowed Chair for Translational Complementary Medicine

Portrait of Prof. Dr. Carsten Gündemann
Prof. Dr. Carsten Gündemann, photo: University of Basel

Globally, demand for complementary medicine is increasing. To boost research in this area, the University of Basel has appointed biologist Carsten Gründemann as Assistant Professor for Translational Complementary Medicine. The professorship is housed within the Department for Pharmaceutical Science. Over the next five years, nine sponsors will support the endowed chair with around three million Swiss francs.

In Switzerland, complementary medicine is particularly valued – as demonstrated by a referendum in 2009. Since then, provision for complementary medicine has been anchored in the federal constitution; teaching and research in this area is stipulated in medical law (since 2015) and educational law (since 2017). With the establishment of an assistant professorship in this field, the University of Basel fills a need to better examine the effectiveness of complementary medical therapies with scientific research methods.

Translational Complementary Medicine
Complementary medicine’s core therapies include phytotherapy, traditional Chinese medicine, classical homeopathy, and anthroposophical medicine. The latter is conceptually grounded in the integration of natural and humanistic aspects and can therefore be considered a prototype for integrative medicine.

Since its inception, the basis for anthroposophical medicine has been so-called translationality. The term “translational” is used to indicate that the knowledge gained through laboratory research has an influence on practical therapy, and new insights regarding effectiveness among patients are used as feedback for new research approaches in the laboratory. The new professorship is intended to increase the translationality of complementary medical research.

Expert for Academic and Complementary Medicine
The holder of the new endowed chair for translational complementary medicine, Prof. Dr. Carsten Gründemann, will assume his position in the Department for Pharmaceutical Sciences on February 1, 2020.

After completion of his biology degree at the University of Tübingen in 2004, Gründemann completed a doctorate in experimental immunology. Starting in 2009, he worked to expand foundational research at the Medical Center for Complementary Medicine at the University Clinic of Freiburg. There, he completed a post-doctoral thesis on the topic of immune suppression through plant-based medicines and secondary plant ingredients. In 2016 he assumed leadership of a newly established research area in anthroposophical medical research at the Institute for Infection Prevention and Hospital Epidemiology, also at the University Clinic of Freiburg.

Integrating Research and Medical Practice
The focal areas of Gründemann’s research include examining therapy concepts in complementary medicine, especially in anthroposophical medicine and phototherapy. In addition to foundational research, he continues to explore the practical application of research insights, including development of medicines for using natural peptides as immune suppressants; these are already in clinical tests as possible candidates for treating multiple sclerosis.

The endowed chair will be supported by a total of €3 million Swiss francs over the next five years, with funding provided by a consortium of nine sponsors. These are: the patient organization anthrosana, PRIAM-BS (Organization for the Endowed Chair for Translational Complementary Medicine at the University of Basel), the Software AG foundation, the Edith Maryon foundation, the Foundation for Psychosomatic, Holistic medicine of Rheinfelden, the Metsi Founation, Foundation for the Promotion of Anthroposophic Institutions, WALA Heilmittel GmbH, and Weleda AG.

Further Information: Caroline Mattingley-Scott, University of Basel, Head of Fundraising, Tel. +41 61 207 28 86, Mobile: +41 79 541 73 95, E-mail: caroline.mattingley-scott(at)