Cancer research in Belgrade and Heidelberg: experts are transferring knowledge to their home countries

International Migrants Day: medical professional Stefan Stefanovic lives and works in Heidelberg and is committed to advancing research in his home country of Serbia.

When Stefan Stefanovic heard from friends and colleagues that the Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM) was supporting people who wanted to get involved in projects in their home countries, it immediately sparked his interest.

Stefanovic came to Germany to study medicine when he was 18. He now works at Heidelberg’s University Hospital, where he researches new treatments for breast cancer. And he is passing on this expertise to colleagues in his home country. During a six-month assignment in the Serbian capital Belgrade, he trained doctors in new research approaches and processes and has maintained this exchange since returning to Germany.

His work was supported by CIM, which is jointly run by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the International Placement Services of the German Federal Employment Agency (ZAV/BA). Experts who take up a voluntary assignment in their home countries have their travel costs reimbursed and receive an allowance towards expenses. Insurance coverage is also provided. Since the scheme was launched in 2017, CIM has supported 130 diaspora experts like Stefan Stefanovic, who work in their home countries to pass on their expertise.

CIM works on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development to support individuals who want to contribute to the development of their home countries. One way of doing this is as a returning expert. CIM has supported more than 15,000 returning experts since 1980.

The idea behind the scheme is that migration offers opportunities for development – for migrants and their home countries, and also for Germany.

Stefan Stefanovic and his colleagues in Serbia are experiencing this first hand. ‘We are working at the Belgrade Clinical Center on a joint research project into new methods for examining women with breast cancer’, says Stefanovic. ‘This will allow us to prescribe more suitable courses of treatment. In the long-term, everybody benefits: my Serbian colleagues, the clinic and, especially, our patients.’

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