• Prof. Dr. Gudrun Piechotta-Henze, ASH Berlin

Brain City Ambassador Professor Dr. Gudrun Piechotta-Henze teaches and researches nursing sciences at the ASH Berlin. Her main area of focus is the nursing care of people with migration experience suffering from dementia.

If asked to name the objectives of scientific research, you wouldn’t be alone in listing endeavours such as eradicating disease, populating a new planet, or immortalising humans. However, Prof Dr Gudrun Piechotta-Henze, Professor of Nursing Science at ASH Berlin, has humbler suggestion. She believes science has a responsibility to help the most vulnerable members of society. 

Gudrun Piechotta-Henze began her career as a nurse in the 1970’s . Back then she was particularly struck by the devastating impact dementia can have on individuals and their families. In Germany, the condition used to be severely stigmatized. Instead of seeing those living with the condition as mothers, fathers and friends with individual interests and desires, they were often labelled as ‘demented’.  However, while doing her rounds, Gudrun Piechotta-Henze saw that each person had distinct needs that required specialists care. And so, she decided to dedicate her career to researching methods of best supporting the lives of people affected by dementia.

Berlin is exciting and versatile. The city offers the best opportunity for interdisciplinary collaborations.

“Being able to help change and improve a person’s quality of life is a good and lasting motivation,” says. Gudrun Piechotta-Henze. Today she is a researcher and teacher in Berlin. She focuses on care for individuals living with dementia and support for their relatives, often concentrating on migrant communities. She began working in Berlin in 2001 and was initially attracted to the city’s wide variety of research, educational and healthcare institutions. “Berlin is exciting and versatile,” she says. “The city offers the best opportunity for interdisciplinary collaborations. For example, there are partnerships between professionals working in migration, dementia, human rights and care.”

Her hopes for Berlin’s research landscape in the future are also related to health care: “I wish for more long-term partnerships across subjects and institutions, and more academic courses related to health care professions such as nursing, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.” It is clear she is dedicated to inspiring and enabling future generations of healthcare professionals. In her current role she splits her time between teaching students in health and care management, attending conferences and writing up research results. At weekends she likes to escape the pressures of modern life; putting away her laptop and heading out on a cycle or long dog walk in the sun.

Gudrun Piechotta-Henze’s passion for helping the most vulnerable members of society is indisputable. She lists her role models as Cicely Saunders, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Tom Kitwood; who were all renowned for their commitment to helping people with life-limiting disease and their contributions to changing care practices for the better. It is clear that Prof Piechotta-Henze strives to continue their legacies. Asked her what her greatest career achievement, she answers: “I am proud of the contributions I have made towards helping people with dementia become appreciated and respected by society and receive the professional care they need”.

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