Medical progress

Without health everything else is nothing

Without our health we have nothing. That’s why promoting public health care is at the forefront of our Foundation’s mission. A visual journey through time and into the future.

Robert Bosch Stiftung
Robert Bosch Stiftung, Robert Bosch Hospital, Institute for the History of Medicine, Bosch GmbH
February 17, 2022

Mission: Robert Bosch paid his workers comparatively well, a decision driven by both ethics and entrepreneurship. For similar reasons, he also placed great value on the health of his workers and their families. This led to his founding of the Robert Bosch Hospital in Stuttgart, which he opened on April 28, 1940 with over 300 beds. The photograph below shows Robert Bosch (second from right) in good spirits along with the hospital’s director Prof. Dr. Alfons Stiegele, the manufacturer A. Mayer, and pharmacist Friedrich Menge in the brand-new hospital pharmacy. Today, the Robert Bosch Hospital (RBK), including the RBK Pulmonary Center Stuttgart (Klinik Schillerhöhe), offers 1,041 beds and is one of the few non-university clinical facilities in Germany with a research mission.

1940: Robert Bosch in the pharmacy of the Robert Bosch Hospital
Robert Bosch Hospital

"If a house should bear my name ..."

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With these words, Robert Bosch opened the Robert Bosch Hospital in 1940. Listen to his speech here (in German only).

Legacy: Bosch dies in 1942 but leaves behind clear instructions on how the company is to be run moving forward (seen in the photograph below: executors of the will, 1954). As early as 1921, he had founded Vermögensverwaltung Bosch GmbH with the aim of keeping his charitable goals alive. In 1964, Vermögensverwaltung, later renamed Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, is given a new structure to safeguard its future independence. The non-profit organization takes over the management of the Robert Bosch Hospital. In its statute, the Foundation dedicates itself first and foremost to the promotion and preservation of health, and the coming decades see the Foundation launch various projects with this goal in mind.

The executors of the will of Robert Bosch during a conference

Transformation: 1973 sees the opening of the Dr. Margarete Fischer-Bosch Institute of Clinical Pharmacology (IKP), named after Bosch’s eldest daughter, whose donation made this all possible. In the early days, four employees researched how the type and timing of how medication is administered impact the success of a treatment – and how to achieve the maximum benefit for patients. Today, and with around 80 employees, the IKP is Germany’s largest scientific research unit in the field of clinical pharmacology.

An IKP researcher at work in the 1970s

Knowledge: Without understanding the past, you can’t shape the future. In 1980, the Robert Bosch Stiftung founds the Institute for the History of Medicine. With more than 75,000 volumes, its specialist library is known as one of the most extensive in the German-speaking world. The collection is also home to the “Homeopathy Archive”, which contains the almost 200-year-old writings and sketches from the founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann. The Institute processes the documents and makes them available for research. Since 2020, the building has also served as the general archive for the Robert Bosch Stiftung and its facilities. 

A letter of Samuel Hahnemann

Research: In 1985, renowned scientist Prof. Dr. Michel Eichelbaum (pictured below) takes over as director of the Dr. Margarete Fischer-Bosch Institute of Clinical Pharmacology (IKP). Alongside his team, his research centers around how changes in patients’ genetic material can affect the efficacy of drugs. Back in 1975, Eichelbaum had discovered what’s known as the sparteine CYP2D6 polymorphism, which explains why some drugs barely help certain cancer patients. Eichelbaum worked at the IKP for 21 years – and the Institute is still benefiting from the scientific findings made back then today. The clinical relevance of the CYP2D6 polymorphism became the focus of work by Eichelbaum’s successor, Prof. Dr. Matthias Schwab, and a new drug for breast cancer treatment is currently being developed on the basis of this research.

Prof. Dr. Eichelbaum in 1996 at the inauguration ceremony of the new IKP

Debate: 1992 sees the Robert Bosch Stiftung cause a national stir with its  memorandum “Pflege braucht Eliten”, or “Nursing Needs Elites”. The paper, which centers around the university education of nursing teachers and managers, is a response to the nursing crisis of the early 1990s and massively accelerates the nationwide development of corresponding structures. In the years to follow, the Foundation honors progressive and outstanding work, just like the award ceremony pictured here at the nursing training center in Ulm Hospital.

Ulm nursing school receives award from the foundation in 1997

Teamwork: Hospitals work best when all employees communicate and pull together as a team. As such, interdisciplinary courses that go beyond the boundaries of the individual health care professions become increasingly important at the Irmgard Bosch Learning Center from 2012. To add to this, the Foundation also launches projects on interprofessional learning. This holistic approach proves a unique selling point for the Robert Bosch Hospital and Stiftung alike. In “Operation Team”, members of different professions learn how to work more effectively together – for the benefit of patients.

Interdisciplinary learning at the bedside with a manikin

Challenge: Cancer is one of the most widespread diseases in Germany – and the second most deadly.  In 2016, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, Robert Bosch Hospital and the Bosch Group join forces in the fight against cancer, launching a number of initiatives. Alongside their cooperation with the German Cancer Research Center, a core component of this is the establishment of the Robert Bosch Center for Tumor Diseases. Located at Burgholzhof in Stuttgart, the Center primarily focuses on how modern, precision oncology can maximally individualize treatment for patients and offer improved chances of a cure.

A patient with cancer on the way to treatment

Equality: It may be the 21st century, but many German regions still lack sufficient medical care. This motivates the Robert Bosch Stiftung to launch the “Patient-Oriented Centers for Primary and Long-Term Care”, or PORT for short, in 2017 in an attempt to improve the situation. Funding goes to innovative health centers that provide access to modern diagnostic and treatment options for more people at regional level and away from the hospital system, improving efficiency and equality in the health care system. Politics, too, is showing an interest: Baden-Württemberg Minister President Winfried Kretschmann, for instance, visited the PORT Center Hohenstein in the district of Reutlingen.

Minister President Kretschmann visits PORT Hohenstein

The Future: Medications and methods that only a short time ago seemed like the stuff of science fiction are now part of everyday hospital life. Despite this, or perhaps even because of it, one question remains key: How do you design a system to provide the best quality, patient-centered health care? In 2022, the Bosch Health Campus was founded as a hub for the Robert Bosch Stiftung to pool all its institutions and funding activities in the field of health care. As such, the Robert Bosch Hospital site in Stuttgart will undergo a fundamental transformation over the next few years to align it fully with the four priority areas of Patient Care, Research, Education, and Funding. 

The Robert Bosch Hospital
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