gms | German Medical Science

Learning through Inquiry in Higher Education: Current Research and Future Challenges (INHERE 2018)

08.03. - 09.03.2018, München

Encouraging student-driven clinical research in Germany: The CHIR-Net SIGMA network

Meeting Abstract

Learning through Inquiry in Higher Education: Current Research and Future Challenges (INHERE 2018). München, 08.-09.03.2018. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2018. Doc10

doi: 10.3205/18inhere10, urn:nbn:de:0183-18inhere102

Published: March 1, 2018

© 2018 Friedrich et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. See license information at



Introduction: Evidence should define and guide modern clinical care, yet many relevant questions in surgical practice remain unconfirmed by data. Meaningful clinical research however is challenging to conduct and its overall infrastructure in Germany was – until recently – considered poor as compared to other leading countries. While this has been significantly improved following the establishment of the Studienzentrum der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Chirurgie (SDGC) and the surgical clinical trial network CHIR-Net, limited focus has been put on training and recruitment of medical students to become competent clinician scientists.

Methods: To address these challenges, the CHIR-Net has established a student-initiated clinical trial network (SIMGA; Student-Initiated German Medical Audit) in 2017. Inspired by initiatives from the United Kingdom, this network enables students to participate in academic research projects and serves as exchange platform between students and physicians. As part of the SIGMA network, students contribute to national multi-center trials while improving clinical and research skills and gaining an insight into clinical academia.

Results: To ensure continuing comprehensive clinical research in surgery, the CHIR-Net aims to establish SIGMA in Germany, which is embedded in both the national CHIR-Net as well as pan-European and international frameworks.

SIGMA has the following objectives:

  • Creation of a national multicenter network of medical students and associated clinician scientists
  • Training of medical students in methodology, regulatory affairs and ethical conduct.
  • Design, initiation, conduction, analysis and publication of prospective multicenter clinical trials initiated by medical students.

Conclusions: SIGMA is a product of strong collaboration between clinical scientists and medical trainees, enabling students to contribute to high-quality clinical trials. Additionally, participants are offered extensive training to support the next generation of research-active clinicians. Starting in 2018, SIGMA will perform its first multicenter observational study in Germany and be part of a multi-national trial in 13 European countries, Australia and New Zealand.


Frey PE, Friedrich M, Rädeker L, Fink CA, Leuck A, Tenckhoff S, Neudecker J, Mihaljevic AL. et al. Encouraging student-driven clinical research in Germany: the CHIR-Net SIGMA network. Innov Surg Sci. 2017;2(4): 255-260. DOI: 10.1515/iss-2017-0038 External link