With this prestigious award, Dr. Brunkhorst was honored for his commitment and contributions to sepsis research. Sepsis is also known as ?blood poisoning?. The award ceremony was performed by the Federal Minister of Health, Ulla Schmidt, on 19 December 2005 in Berlin. The 13 other laureates besides Dr. Brunkhorst are women and men who are engaged in medical research, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. The occasion marks the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize award to Robert Koch. He is known as the father of bacteriology and contributed greatly to overcome many previously life-threatening infectious diseases. Among the other award recipients is actress Hannelore Elsner who is honored for her commitment to the AIDS Foundation. The award of the Cross of Merit on behalf of the Federal President of the Republic to Dr. Frank Martin Brunkhorst pays tribute to his outstanding commitment in the German Sepsis Society and the German Competence Network Sepsis (SepNet). As critical care physician, Dr Brunkhorst has significantly contributed to improve the diagnosis and therapy of sepsis, an infectious disease that causes 60,000 deaths annually and is the third leading cause of death in Germany. "Unfortunately, sepsis is widely overlooked, though its significance is comparable to AIDS" said Dr. Brunkhorst. The awareness of the clinical syndrome among physicians is low and the pathophysiology of the disease remains poorly understood. Patients with severe sepsis are frequently admitted to intensive care units too late for proper treatment, often with fatal outcome. The German Sepsis Society and the competence network SepNet have set themselves the goal to change this situation: ?We want to raise sepsis research in Germany to a new level, to increase survival rates and promote better outcomes for sepsis patients. Particularly important are the improvement in early diagnosis and the introduction of standard measures for sepsis care in the clinical routine?. Furthermore, Dr. Brunkhorst and colleagues work to increase the public awareness and perception of sepsis. "The award to Dr. Brunkhorst is also an appreciation of the common efforts of all of us in the field of sepsis?, says Prof. Konrad Reinhart, President of the German Sepsis Society and director of the Clinic for Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Unit at the University Hospital of Jena. "It is however largely due to Dr. Brunkhorst?s commitment that sepsis is no longer an unknown territory on the map of medical science in Germany?.
Dr. Frank Martin Brunkhorst regards the award as an encouragement for further activities, "it is necessary to establish the topic of sepsis in the curriculum of our physicians in training. But first I want to thank my wife and my daughters for their support of my clinical and research work despite the many hours of absence from the family?.