SIGENET Health: Sino-German Research Network on Public Health and Bioethics. Assessing Cultural Principles for Health: Solidarity, Justice and Responsibility

Public Health and Bioethics target inter-disciplinary science interfaces. International collaborations meet different standards, anthropologies and approaches to ethical governance and the organisation of science. The ongoing globalisation and China’s transformations present new opportunities for interaction. Here lies a huge potential for mutual benefit in the collaborative research.


The building of a German-Chinese Research Infrastructure in Public Health and Bioethics, including the Life Sciences, helps to advance existing collaborations and craft new ones, between German and Chinese partners. It develops target projects to build a durable institutional network, to promote skills and trust across cultures.

Scientific Background

Standardisation and translation raise key ethical, translational and technical challenges in international collaborations. They demand advanced theory as well as empirical substance and hands-on experience in cross-border works. The SIGENET is targeting core concepts of health anthropology and ethics, with comparative and evaluative analysis. It focuses on procedural and institutional aspects of regulatory practice, and how they can be translated and dealt with between cultures. It will generate and map sociological data on attitudes towards basic ethical principles and contribute to expertise in Technology Assessment and Governance.

Project and Objectives

  • The SIGENET has established a headquarter to co-ordinate the emerging joint research program, built a communication platform, organises regular workshops and integrate related research activities.
  • It is successfully conducting an exchange program for research fellows.
  • It has opened a Liaison Office in Shanghai.
  • It works toward common normative standards in science, methods and best practice for health and biotechnology (base for understanding in culturally sensitive areas).
  • It has defined a preliminary joint research agenda, targeting “genetic discrimination”, justice, solidarity and responsibility in different contexts of genomics, biobanking goveranace, clinical trials, pain medicine and health equity and Public Health.
  • It has set up an internet-based platform and a data base to support cooperation and joint publications.
  • It organises the process of communication.
  • It orchestrates a series of pilot studies.
  • It supports or integrates related research activities.
  • It is an open project that can be joined by like-minded colleagues and institutions!

Group photo

SiGeNet development in progress - © SiGeNet

Research Structure

The SIGENET is an excellence-based research network, on the basis of modulated partnership, with a base in Berlin and a liaison office in Shanghai. It draws support form partner institutions in Germany, 5 in China and 3 European countries, as well as from several other case-by-case partners. It is collaborating with WHO; institutes for Technology Assessment, international ethics bodies and NGO’s. Research is coordinated and organized through regular workshops, pooling of expertise, exchange of research fellows, field work and other methods. Target SIGENET groups have been installed on Medical Ethics Curriculum Research and Philosophy. The research structure is planned to be fully functional and self-sustaining after 2014.

Funded in the context of the BMBF funding programme to establish joint research structures of German universities with partners in APRA. More information on APRA.