The overall goal of NATON is to provide an expert-driven data and methods platform for networked autopsy-based research within the NUM. The main structural goals for this are:
Provide long-term and highly complementary infrastructure and services driven by the community
Networking the expertise of pathology, neuropathology and forensic medicine for collaborative autopsy specimen collection and processing
Provision of a central information exchange point for subprojects of the NUM funding lines as well as for external stakeholders, including the public health sector
NATON is the successor project of DEFEAT PANDEMIcs and thus already since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic bundles the competences of most university and non-university specialists in Germany who deal with autopsies and the analysis of post-mortem samples.
NATON acts as a platform for Pandemic Preparedness, promoting and supporting postmortem research in a variety of relevant and research-rich areas. This approach enables rapid feedback between research, patient care, and pandemic management, so that clinical and management issues can be translated into research approaches on the one hand, and research findings can be translated into patient care and crisis management on the other.
The integration of NATON into NUM allows for highly complementary pathology, neuropathology, and forensic medicine expertise and resources related to autopsies to be made available, while allowing NATON to benefit from the already available and established framework, infrastructure, and expertise within NUM.
NATON is designed not only for COVID-19, but also for other, or in principle all, autopsy-based projects and use cases: e.g. from pulmonary, cardiovascular, neurological to oncological and traumatic issues, but also for rare diseases and control cohorts. The NATON partners have proven expertise in pathogen diagnostics for both known and novel pathogens. The already established collaboration and expertise offer the possibility to address and support a very broad spectrum of questions from basically all medical fields and public health in addition to the further work-up of the questions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.