The Falk Foundation – exchanging and sustaining knowledge
“Working together is the only way to tackle future challenges.
And together, we will succeed at the pace demanded.”
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the Falk Foundation?
In addition to founding Dr. Falk Pharma, he also established a platform for scientific dialogue and education that works independently of the classical pharmaceutical industry. Over the past four decades, his idea has developed into an institution that serves as both a stage as well as a portal for information. This platform is both shaped and used by physicians and scientists in the field of digestive and metabolic medicine.
The Falk Foundation enjoying high reputation attracts engaged and engaging experts from around the world. We communicate wide-ranging, scientifically-valid, and clearly-focused information in our countless events and our diverse portfolio of resources, while also providing opportunities for discussions during our events. Over the years, we have developed and successfully deployed many different formats. In my role as the chairman, I feel personally obligated to repay the trust placed in the organization. At the same time, it also gives me joy to not only run but also to continuously develop our platforms together with our colleagues and with many stakeholders from medicine and science.
Ursula Falk and Dr. Dr. Herbert Falk, founding generation of Dr. Falk Pharma
International Symposium of the Falk Foundation in Amsterdam, 2022
“Knowledge drives everything” is a central tenet of the Falk Foundation. What does this motto mean?
We harness knowledge to shape our actions, to develop ideas, and to generate solutions that can be translated into products or applications, such as new forms of diagnosis and treatment with added benefit.
Knowledge tends to be spread among many individuals located across the globe. Even at the early stages of his career, my father recognized the importance of consolidating knowledge in the field of digestive and metabolic medicine not only among the national level – in this case Germany – but also from among the international community. This is reflected by the fact that he convened the first international Falk symposium on the topic of “jaundice” as early as 1967. The scientific director of this international symposium was Prof. Hans Popper, a pathologist and hepatologist who was the director of the Department of Pathology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and who contributed key ideas and suggestions for the symposium. The symposium was attended by experts from 17 countries, which was a milestone at the time.
What specific role does the Falk Foundation play in promoting scientific dialogue and the exchange of knowledge – both then and now?
This is implemented by facilitating inspiring dialogues and intelligent continuing medical education that are objective and independent of any specific expectations, requirements, or product-driven motives. Intellectual freedom is required to give new ideas room to breathe, and this freedom may not be overshadowed by business or political interests. Scientific and medical advances can only occur through open discourse that includes both dissent and consensus.
The Falk Foundation facilitates dialogues that are always centered on content. This is why so many leading experts in our field are involved with the Falk Foundation and why so many physicians and scientists attend our events or utilize our wide range of multimedia resources, in some cases for decades.
Our stakeholders and partners cherish the high degree of freedom the Falk Foundation provides them with. The best part is that when experts place content as their cornerstone, the system grows and progresses by itself. This is what motivates all the participants attending our meetings: people who are genuinely interested and inspired will come again, and will recruit new participants. This cycle sustains both inspiration as well as curiosity and drive.
Rabina Giri and Lovesh Dyall, awarded for their posters at the international symposium of the Falk Foundation in Frankfurt, 2022
Carola Falk and Martin Falk, active shareholders of Dr. Falk Pharma
Are there interactions between the Falk Foundation and
Dr. Falk Pharma?
However, the roles played by these two parties are strictly defined and delineated to ensure the scientific independence of the Falk Foundation. This arrangement is crucial and is quite unique in the pharmaceutical industry. One way to imagine these roles is to think of a body with two organs which have different functions and play different roles yet still interact to support one another.
On the one hand, the Falk Foundation promotes medicine and science, builds networks, and facilitates dialogue with the help of its experts. This would not be possible without financial support, since the Falk Foundation does not generate any revenue for its own purposes. Although there is a financial dependence, the needs and requirements of the professional groups supported by the Falk Foundation are always the highest priority, regardless of Dr. Falk Pharma’s current business model. On the other hand, Dr. Falk Pharma as a company houses the expertise, experience, and structures that allow some of the insights and innovations gained through these interactions to be translated into powerful medications that can be provided to patients. These advances represent the economical foundation for the product-neutral, indication-guided services provided by the Falk Foundation. Working together, we can be greater than the sum of our parts.
Looking into the futue, in which direction the Falk Foundation might develop?
Of course, the environment we work in is constantly changing, and we need to adapt to these changes. We would like to remain an attractive partner for valuable scientific dialogue and resources in digestive and metabolic medicine going forward.
Recently, we added several new, younger experts to our Board of Members, who have already brought new ideas and directions based on their expertise. We are working together with our medical and scientific partners to develop new digital formats and interactions that will one day become a major pillar of our communication. Our hope is that these changes will make our conversations even more vibrant. The newest generation of doctors is also in our sights, and we are aiming to understand their perspective so we can provide them with a suitable platform.
We would also like to share the wealth of knowledge we have accumulated with more regions of the world, so that it can be of benefit to the entire global community. Even with the recent regional military conflicts in some countries, international cooperation will continue to become ever more important for all of mankind, especially in the fields of science and medicine. Working together is the only way to tackle future challenges. And together, we will succeed at the pace demanded to develop modern diagnostic tools, treatments, and treatment regimens for keeping or regaining freedom in people's daily lives.
Martin Falk in discussion with Riadh Jazrawi and Loulitte van Buuren, employees at Dr. Falk Pharma UK
The interview was conducted in German in October 2022 by Ben Rünger, Creative Enterprise Developer, Winner’s Project Consulting, Zug, Switzerland