SOLUTION CENTRE FOR IMAGE
GUIDED LOCAL THERAPIES
STIMULATE 2 | 3
FOREWORD BY PROF.
FOREWORD BY PROF.
WHO WE ARE
STIMULATE 4 | 5
INTERVIEW WITH PROF.
PROF. DR. GEORG
STIMULATE 6 | 7
Photo: © Stefan Berger
STIMULATE is one of nine research campuses in Germany that conduct research on various socially-relevant
topics. The application for the research campus was the result of the continuous
development and success of medical technology in research and education. The environment of
a research-oriented university hospital with an emphasis on innovative imaging applications, and
engineering faculties for which medical technology is an important area of research, made it possible
to obtain numerous grants for scientific projects in this field. Many of these projects are carried
out in cooperation with industry. This has contributed to the fact that medical technology was defined
as a transfer-oriented research priority of the Otto-von-Guericke University (OVGU) in 2010.
The STIMULATE application was selected for funding from among 96 concept submissions. It is
based on a long-term partnership between publicly-funded research and industry, which is intended
to build up sustainable structures alongside relevant research results. The annual research
funding of about 2 million Euro is supplemented by contributions from the partners of at least the
same amount. The participation of industry ensures that, in addition to strategically-oriented basic
research, application-oriented research is also carried out, which will lead to faster and more
direct product development.
STIMULATE is one of two research campuses in the field of medical technology. The second, similarly
oriented research campus is located in Mannheim and Heidelberg. In this respect, we regard
the Mannheim research campus as a strategic cooperation partner. This cooperation is particularly
visible in the preparation of the IGIC (Image-Guided Interventions Conference) conference, which
we launched in 2014.
The numerous cooperation partners (research institutions outside the university, small and medium-sized
companies) are members of the newly founded STIMULATE association. These 25
partners currently complement the thematic portfolio of OVGU and Siemens in such a way that
all the expertise required for image-guided minimally invasive therapies is available. Members of
the STIMULATE association include primed as a specialist for catheter development, Acandis and
Admedes as specialists for stent development, and KUKA as a robotics provider. The cooperation
between the university partners, Siemens and the small and medium-sized enterprises organised in
the STIMULATE association, is regulated by an extensive legal framework. The guiding principle in
its design was the programme requirement of a "partnership on an equal footing".
STIMULATE 8 | 9
STIMULATE focuses on interventional procedures in which small instruments such as needles and
catheters are applied to treat vascular diseases or tumours. This focus is motivated by the fact that
these treatment methods are less invasive for the patient than conventional treatment, i.e. open
surgery, which leads to large wounds. With the increasing number of elderly patients who are increasingly
suffering from several diseases, these methods are often the only reasonable treatment
options. At the same time, these therapies require specific technical support, whereby imaging
plays a central role in controlling and monitoring the intervention. Interventional methods are
widely applicable. In order to structure the work within the research campus, we will focus on two
clinical pictures during the first phase from 2015 to 2019: tumour diseases and vascular diseases.
The research within STIMULATE is characterised by the close cooperation between physicians who
define clinical needs and engineers, natural scientists and computer scientists who design and develop
technical and software solutions, which are then tested by the medical partners. STIMULATE
works in a disease oriented way, i.e. the technical solutions, often consisting of contributions from
different engineering fields, are tailored to solve a clinical problem in their interaction. This disease
orientation is also essential for cooperation with industry, as it develops disease oriented solutions,
such as the entire hardware and software equipment of an operating theatre for performing certain
STIMULATE takes seriously the work "under one roof", which is another programme requirement,
because in this way the creativity and synergies during the cooperation come to the fore. The
Experimental Factory (ExFa) on the northern campus of OVGU Magdeburg contains all necessary
offices and laboratory space. Medical devices, such as a magnetic resonance tomograph,
are available for research and correspond exactly to the clinically used devices. The growth of
STIMULATE by attracting additional funding means that the ExFa has already reached its limits.
Intensive work is therefore ongoing toward a new solution. Speicher B in Magdeburg's Science
Port will soon be converted for us and tailored to our needs. The relocation is planned in the year
2019. At the same time, a private investor is preparing the neighbouring building (Speicher A) as
a commercial property for spin-offs and industrial locations. Siemens Healthineers, for example,
will be setting up a local branch there so that even closer cooperation will be possible. The establishment
of the new location for STIMULATE is an important component of our strategy to develop
sustainable structures that will shape our work far beyond the funding period. We would like to
thank the state government for providing the necessary financial resources, as well as the city of
Magdeburg and OVGU for their dedicated support and the trust they place in us.
STIMULATE has achieved a lot in the four years since the beginning of the preparatory phase.
Scientific results have been published partly in high-profile publications, including at the premier
Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Interventions (MICCAI) conference and in leading
journals. The BMBF's funding was supplemented by substantial additional third-party funding.
These include basic research-oriented DFG projects, business related funding from the Investment
Bank of Saxony-Anhalt and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. Particularly important
is the establishment of the "MEMoRIAL" graduate school, which will enable structured and
coordinated promotion of doctoral studies and which has started in the second quarter of 2017.
Siemens Healthineers has made the research campus possible through its commitment. Siemens is
currently primarily active in imaging diagnostics. The cooperation with STIMULATE fits into Siemens’
strategy of providing stronger support for therapy, so that the focus is increasingly on questions
of instrument development and imaging during an intervention. STIMULATE is therefore focusing
on cooperation with the Advanced Therapy division, which was founded by Siemens Healthineers.
A high-ranking and very experienced Siemens representative, PD Dr. Reiss, is a member of the
STIMULATE board of directors and, in particular, makes his Siemens network accessible to us, establishes
contacts and initiates research cooperations. Dr. Kolem, CEO of the Advanced Therapy
division, is a manager who is personally committed to the research campus. He also represents
Siemens Healthineers in the Steering Committee, so that the partnership is also reflected on an
equal footing in the top bodies of STIMULATE.
The STIMULATE association, the aggregation of small and medium-sized companies partnering
with STIMULATE in areas that Siemens does not cover, also provides important impetus for research,
supports sponsorship and especially transfer, e.g. in matters relating to the approval of
medical devices. OVGU and the Rectorate have, of course, consistently supported the research
campus from its inception. OVGU has set up the Bachelor's degree programme "Medical Technology"
and created additional professorships in this area. The professorship for "Medical Systems
Technology", the endowed professorship for catheter technologies and the junior professorship for
computer-assisted surgery are particularly important, and after 4 years of development work they
are scientifically very active.
STIMULATE 10 | 11
In times of stagnating public funds, such a focus on interventional medical
technology at the OVGU and in the participating faculties is a courageous
decision, which shows how much the participants believe in the success of
STIMULATE. We would like to thank the BMBF and the two project executing
organisations PTJ and VDI as well as Dr. Händeler, who has been very
supportive and has given us a lot of impetus, and Mr. Eulenstein, who is
responsible for the VDI's technical supervision and ongoing support. We
would like to thank the state government, which has delegated its Minister Prof. Dr. A. Willingmann
to the steering committee of the research campus and has established a series of accompanying
measures to support the growth of STIMULATE. Collaborative projects with industry, EFRE funding
and measures promoting start-ups (ego.-INCUBATORs) are particularly important. In the future,
we will also be able to address other clinical pictures, e.g. in cardiology and urology.
Prof. Georg Rose
Spokesperson of the research campus STIMULATE
PROF. DR. ARMIN
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
With the research campus STIMULATE, Magdeburg belongs to the top league in the field of medical
technology - both nationally and internationally. OVGU scientists and employees of Siemens
Healthineers, many small and medium-sized enterprises and other scientific institutions are working
together to develop innovations that will improve our lives. The STIMULATE laboratories are
home to top medical-technical achievements, where medical progress is being made. The goal:
Magdeburg is to become the "German Centre for Image-Guided Medicine" with international
appeal - a real research beacon.
To this end, STIMULATE receives extensive support from the Federal Government and the State of
Saxony-Anhalt. The Magdeburg medical technology lighthouse is one of nine research campuses
in Germany funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research on a long-term basis - up
to 15 years with an annual budget of two million Euro. Saxony-Anhalt complements federal funding
and will contribute a total of ten million Euro between 2016 and 2020. The STIMULATE partners
are also contributing - with a contribution of millions of Euro. In this way, all those involved
are laying the financial foundation for top-level medical technology research in Magdeburg.
STIMULATE 12 | 13
STIMULATE exemplifies the link between public and private funding that the
state government has promoted. Entrepreneurs and researchers are working
together in Magdeburg to develop medical technology innovations that
generate growth and employment in Saxony-Anhalt. Spin-offs and settlements
are intended to give the national medical technology industry strong
impetus - initial successes are already visible. In order for others to follow,
the STIMULATE partners are also working closely with the state's Medical
and Health Technology Cluster. The research campus is also one of the leading projects of
Saxony-Anhalt's Regional Innovation Strategy.
Of course, STIMULATE is not only intended to produce economic effects. It is also of central importance
that patients benefit directly from the newly developed, minimally invasive diagnostic and
therapeutic procedures as well as medical technology innovations. For this purpose, the STIMULATE
partners cooperate closely with physicians - they define the needs, test the developed methods and
integrate them into the treatment. Of particular importance, the focus of research and development
of patient-friendly innovations is not on rare diseases, but on common, age-related diseases
such as cancer, stroke, dementia or heart attacks. And last but not least, STIMULATE also provides
scientific and practice-oriented training and further education for physicians and medical technicians.
In summary: the research campus STIMULATE is a real asset for the state of Saxony-Anhalt - and
thanks to its excellent research work it is a flagship for our business and science location. This can
also be seen on the following pages, where you will find many interesting insights into achievements,
goals and unique selling points. I hope you will read this book in depth.
Prof. Dr. Armin Willingmann
Minister for Economic Affairs,
Science and Digitisation of Saxony-Anhalt
STIMULATE 14 | 15
WHAT ROLE DOES THE RESEARCH CAMPUS PLAY FOR OVGU? OVGU HAS
SUPPORTED THE RESEARCH CAMPUS WITH NUMEROUS ACCOMPANYING
MEASURES - TO WHAT EXTENT HAVE THE ASSOCIATED EXPECTATIONS
With the establishment of the STIMULATE research campus, it was clear
that OVGU Magdeburg would strategically realign medical technology at
the interface between science and industry. The funding period of up to 15
years and the available funds offer unusually good conditions for designing
new concepts. In Magdeburg, it was important not only for Siemens
Healthineers to be the lead partner, but also for regional companies to
strengthen the country's innovation system. Political expectations are high.
We are prepared for this challenge and are pleased that the state subsidies
have been made available for the companies involved and, after a long planning
period, for a new STIMULATE building.
Cross-faculty research has a long tradition at OVGU Magdeburg. Nevertheless,
STIMULATE presented major challenges due to the design of new study programmes,
intensification of basic research and transfer. We see STIMULATE on
a very good path. The Bachelor's degree in medical technology has got off to a
very successful start, the desired appointments of professors have been completed
and we are increasingly successful in generating the necessary third-party funds.
There is certainly still potential for cooperation with clinically active colleagues, but
the University's fundamental decision to combine its very well-positioned medical
academia with parts of the engineering sciences made strategic sense. The first
companies have settled here and by reaching a critical mass, the Science Port as
part of the university campus is likely to become a regional transfer model visible
Photo: © Stefan Berger
HOW DO YOU SEE THE ROLE OF THE RESEARCH CAMPUS
AS A PARTNER FOR UNIVERSITY MEDICINE?
We have a special situation at the OVGU in Magdeburg: a predominantly
technical profile on the one hand and a medical faculty that is very active
in science on the other. This led to numerous joint activities in the field of
medical technology long before the establishment of the research campus
with its focus on image-guided interventions. Personally, for example,
I enjoy the "Virtual Anatomy" project with a relevant company and OVGU's
The research campus institutionalises and consolidates this cooperation. I hope that
the research campus will result in numerous other third-party funding projects between
engineers, computer scientists, physicists and physicians, because progress in medicine
depends on this.
Dean of the Medical
Faculty of the
Photo: © University
STIMULATE 16 | 17
WHAT ROLE DOES RESEARCH IN MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY PLAY FOR THE
CITY OF MAGDEBURG? WHAT EXACTLY IS THE CITY HOPING FOR FROM
THE RESEARCH CAMPUS?
STIMULATE is an excellent example of how science and research work
together with industry to find new technological solutions. This example
shows how important research institutions are for the economic development
of a region. The intensive cooperation with technology-oriented companies
and the interdisciplinary approach make STIMULATE a project that
is exemplary for future developments.
All partners involved can be proud of the fact that STIMULATE was funded
as a research campus by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The state
capital will support this project with all its might, because it is one of our strategic goals
to further develop Magdeburg as a science location.
For this purpose, the state capital city has created all the prerequisites for an expansion
of OVGU's campus with the Science Port. Here, an area is being developed in
which successful cooperation between science and industry will lead to the creation
of new jobs.
Dr. Lutz Trümper
Lord Mayor of the
Photo: © City of
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO ESTABLISH A BRANCH OFFICE IN MAGDEBURG?
WHAT PERSPECTIVES DO YOU SEE IN WORKING TOGETHER WITH THE
The settlement in Magdeburg and the associated proximity to the research
campus STIMULATE offers ACES Ing.-GmbH access to highly qualified
specialists in a highly specialised sector. Through close cooperation with
the various university institutions of the STIMULATE research campus, our
research efforts are on an equal footing with considerably larger competitors
in our sector, which will have a lasting positive impact on our competitiveness
and our pace of innovation. In times of global competition, it is
essential to concentrate competences in order to be at the top of the world.
Managing Director of
ACES Ing. -GmbH
Photo: © Aces Ing.
STIMULATE 18 | 19
WHY IS SIEMENS INVOLVED IN THE RESEARCH CAMPUS? HOW DO YOU
SEE THE OPPORTUNITIES OF THE LOCATION MAGDEBURG TO GAIN
VISIBILITY IN MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH? HOW DO YOU SEE THE
FOCUS ON INTERVENTIONAL TECHNIQUES?
Siemens Healthineers has decided to become involved with STIMULATE
because the topics outlined there are regarded as forward-looking growth
areas in medicine and medical technology. In general, there are many visionary
voices predicting that classical surgery will increasingly be replaced in
the coming decades by minimally invasive techniques incorporating specific
imaging and robotics. For this reason, it makes strategic sense for Siemens
Healthineers to accompany this field with leading institutions at an early
stage and to become involved.
There are only a few institutions in the world that have begun to develop this vision of
minimally invasive surgery on a larger scale. In Europe, for example, we see the locations
in Magdeburg, Strasbourg and Mannheim. Magdeburg has some specific advantages:
• The possibility to develop new applications holistically from concept to large animal
models and first human applications. For this reason, Siemens Healthineers
decided to test the first ultrasound angio-fusion models in Magdeburg.
• In Magdeburg, the technology (engineering sciences and other institutes with a
deep technical background) is strongly and broadly represented.
• There is a strong willingness to work together, which can have a positive impact
on results and product development.
Dr. Heinrich Kolem
CEO of the Advanced
Photo: © Harald Krieg
WHO WE ARE
STIMULATE 20 | 21
RESEARCH FOR HUMAN HEALTH
Only a small stitch is necessary. Instead of opening the abdominal or chest area over a large area,
doctors are now working increasingly with interventional methods. The surgeon observes the operating
field inside the patient on the monitor. The methods and possibilities are developing rapidly and are
constantly expanding. Imaging methods such as X-ray fluoroscopy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
and computer tomography (CT) play a key role in this process.
At the medical technology research campus STIMULATE, engineers and physicians together with companies
are investigating new technologies for image-guided minimally invasive diagnoses and therapies.
The aim is to further develop the methods in such a way that they can also be applied to diseases
for which this is not yet possible. The advantages of the minimally invasive techniques are obvious:
the patient recovers more quickly after the surgery and can often leave the hospital after only a few
days - some interventions can even be performed on an outpatient basis - and is able to return to work
Until now, the doctor has usually used small cameras attached to the surgical instruments during a
minimally invasive procedure. But the images produced in this way are insufficient for many forms
of therapy. Imaging procedures such as MRI, CT or ultrasound enable doctors not only to keep an
eye on a small section of the operating field, but also to orientate themselves over a large area and
to steer and control the instruments very precisely. However, interventions are hardly possible in the
narrow gantry of an MRI or CT machine. STIMULATE is therefore also investigating new concepts for
improving patient access.
STIMULATE focuses on the treatment of cancer, cerebral vascular diseases and diseases of the cardiovascular
system. They are among the most common life-threatening diseases in Western industrialised
countries and are therefore highly relevant to society. In addition, the risk of these diseases increases
with age. As more and more people reach a high age, the number of patients requiring appropriate
therapy is increasing.
Due to its precision
and reliability, the
robot can support
the physician during
surgery. A prototype
is shown for use in
operations on the
Photo: © Harald Krieg
» » »
In the research campus STIMULATE, partners from science and industry have joined forces to
address the questions arising in clinical practice and to explore and develop new treatment concepts,
procedures, services and products. The public-private partnership is supported by OVGU
Magdeburg, Siemens Healthcare GmbH and the STIMULATE Association, which consists of more
than 20 companies and scientific players and is constantly being expanded by further cooperation
Since 2013, STIMULATE has been funded by the Federal Ministry of Education
and Research as one of nine research campus projects in the programme
"Research Campus - Public-Private Partnership for Innovations".
Unlike a "normal" research project, cooperation with industry plays a central
role here. The research campus is also very long-term. The time is to be
used to build up sustainable structures. The goal is ambitious: STIMULATE
will grow to an international reference centre and establish itself as the
"German Centre for Image-Guided Medicine".
The researchers and engineers are currently working together on several
projects to achieve this goal. In doing so, they focus on clinical scenarios in
which image-supported minimally invasive therapies are used. Like cancer.
At present, image-supported minimally invasive therapy is predominantly used palliatively to alleviate
the suffering of patients and prolong their lives. The aim of STIMULATE is to further develop
therapies in such a way that they also make it possible to cure cancer. This involves designing the
operating room in such a way that doctors have free access to the patient and at the same time
expanding external imaging in such a way that doctors can see exactly how well the tumour has
been destroyed. Research also focuses on robotics. The high-precision control of a robot arm
should enable instruments to be inserted into tumours of the spinal column with millimetre precision
and destroyed by heating without damaging the adjacent spinal cord.
For the emergency care of stroke and aneurysm patients, an interdisciplinary research team is
developing an interventional operating room to ensure rapid and effective initial treatment,
ecause in the case of strokes suffered by around 270,000 people in Germany
every year, "time is brain" applies. The faster a stroke patient can be
treated, the greater the likelihood that the brain will not suffer any permanent
damage. However, much valuable time is lost between diagnosis and
therapy. For this reason, STIMULATE is investigating the processes, structures
and technical prerequisites that are necessary to enable diagnosis and
therapy to be carried out more quickly and by means of catheters on one
imaging device. The scientists are optimizing the X-ray angiography system in the operating room,
which is expected to deliver images of similar high quality as a CT scan and can therefore also be
used for stroke diagnosis.
Despite these developments, there will still be patients in the future who only survive a stroke with
severe brain damage. STIMULATE is investigating how brain-controlled prostheses can help them.
In a minimally invasive approach, electrodes are implanted into the brain to record nerve impulses,
from which control signals for the prostheses are calculated.
International cutting-edge research, the training and further education of physicians and medical
technicians as well as the transfer of the developed technologies and their clinical testing are the
cornerstones of the research campus STIMULATE. Basic research and the linking of medicine and
engineering provide the basis for the development of new medical products. The first successes
are already visible: With MedWaves, Inc. from the USA and ACES from Filderstadt, two companies
have settled on the research campus, and a first major spin-off with start-up capital worth millions
is about to start. The first steps on the way from STIMULATE to the "German Centre for Image-
Guided Medicine" have been taken.
STIMULATE 22 | 23
24 | 25
» Understanding and correctly interpreting
» Stroke: time is brain
» Radiological interventions in the MRI gantry
Photo: © Harald Krieg
STIMULATE 26 | 27
THE RESEARCH OBJECTIVE IS A COMMUNICATION SYSTEM
BETWEEN BRAIN AND MACHINE
Paralysis is one of the dramatic consequences of many neurological diseases.
It often occurs as a result of a stroke. The affected areas of the brain then no
longer send signals to the extremities. "However, the brain can compensate
for such failures by forming new nerve cells and synapses, and redistribute
the tasks," says STIMULATE scientist Tim Pfeiffer. The physicist stresses, "The
measurement and analysis of brain signals and their correct interpretation is the subject of current
Dr. Christoph Reichert from the Leibniz Institute of Neurobiology in Magdeburg is in no doubt
about that. The computer scientist uses a magnetoencephalograph (MEG) to measure the magnetic
fields generated in the human brain by neuronal activity, i.e. by the "language of the nerves".
"If these MEG data were combined with EEG measurements of electrical activity, one could learn
more and more about brain activity," says Christoph Reichert.
The physicist, the computer scientist and their STIMULATE team conduct basic research to improve
a brain-machine interface (BMI). "When the patient concentrates strongly on the movement of
the paralysed arm," explains Tim Pfeiffer, "this idea generates signals in the brain. The BMI device
should detect when the patient tries to move the paralysed arm. A specially developed training
device performs this movement simultaneously - again and again until the nerve connections
between arm and brain are rebuilt".
control a virtual
robot arm by means
of thoughts; subject
(front) and supervisor
EEG electrode cap
for measuring brain
Photos: © Harald Krieg
The research of STIMULATE is even more advanced. The long-term goal is a communication
system between brain and machine that does not depend on peripheral nerves and muscles. In
the case of paralysis or amputation of an arm, for example, these usual signal paths no longer
function or exist. The scientists also want prostheses to be controlled by the patient's brain signals.
The BMI device has the task of analysing the signals from the brain and converting the information
into control commands for external applications, for example for a gripping robot. The BMI
device replaces the nerves and muscles by directly activating the artificial arm with the electrophysiological
signals of the brain.
In the beginning, STIMULATE scientists use non-invasive techniques that do not require surgery.
Since these measurement techniques reveal significantly less information than invasive procedures,
the vision of the research team is to provide the system with additional information from
outside in the future. For example, an integrated camera could tell the system that a bottle is
on the table. Pressure sensors could provide information about weight or material properties.
Mathematical models are calculated from the internal and external signals, and algorithms are
developed with which the system is controlled semi-autonomously.
The area of expertise of Christoph Reichert is machine learning: an artificially intelligent system
learns from example data. It recognises patterns in them with which it can classify unknown data.
Tim Pfeiffer is doing his PhD in the field of analysis and classification of brain signals. On the
basis of algorithms from automatic speech recognition, he says, it is possible to understand brain
waves. Returning to the quality of the measured data, he says, "There is a lot of background noise
in the brain. Therefore, in addition to optimising existing algorithms, we will develop new methods
for classifying signals".
STIMULATE 28 | 29
"Beyond the immediate value of patient care, research in the field of BMI
neuroscience is of great interest because it allows the interaction of brain
activity and feedback (e.g. visually, as a moving prosthesis) to observe and
model processes of neuronal plasticity and implicit learning, which among
other things contributes to the understanding of other neurological diseases.”
» » »
Photo: © University Clinic
TIME IS BRAIN
STIMULATE 30 | 31
THE AIM OF THE RESEARCH: DIAGNOSIS AND THERAPY
ON THE SAME DEVICE
The drama is in the title: "Stroke". At one stroke, the patient's life changes - in
the worst case, it's over. "About 85 percent of strokes are caused by occlusion
of a blood vessel," says Dr. Oliver Beuing, Senior Physician at the Institute
of Neuroradiology at Magdeburg University Hospital. He holds a closed
tube against the light. The corpus delicti floats in a solution: a blood clot.
Minimally invasive methods for the removal of such clots use aspiration or a stent retriever. This is a
self-expanding tube that pulls the clot out of the blood vessel. "However, it can be difficult to navigate
the instruments to the occlusions in the brain or remove the clot. The success rate is 75 to 80
percent," says Oliver Beuing. The STIMULATE research campus therefore develops technical solutions
for precise instrument positioning and effective treatment. "We need excellent vascular imaging to get
the catheters to the diseased part of the brain vessel at low risk," says the clinician. He is an important
partner for STIMULATE's medical engineers. In the radiology department of the University Hospital,
he uses an angiography facility that is similar to the one in which STIMULATE scientists and engineers
implement their ideas. The angiography system delivers extremely sharp 2D and 3D images from
inside the patient.
STIMULATE employee Thomas Hoffmann commutes between the two laboratories. He is the link in
persona when it comes to integrating technical solutions into clinical practice.
A major goal of the joint research is called "one-stop-shop": all necessary steps, including diagnostics
and therapy, should be performed in one place, namely the operating room. Because every minute
counts. Stroke treatment is most effective in the first 180 minutes after the onset of symptoms. The
principle "time is brain" applies. At least 15 valuable minutes are gained if all necessary diagnostic
measures are performed on the device that is also used for therapy in the operating room.
CT scan of a model
to evaluate a novel
method for correcting
caused by metal
CT image of perfusion
of a model brain
layer using an angiographic
Photos: © Harald Krieg
This is the so-called C-Arm, which can move around the patient and take
X-rays from many directions. These images are ideal for controlling the procedure.
However, it is also possible to calculate 3D datasets from these images,
as normally created by a computer tomograph. These images are, so far, not
of sufficient quality for the diagnosis of a stroke. STIMULATE aims to improve
this image quality in such a way that a complete diagnosis is possible in the
operating room. "One reason for the insufficient image quality is movement
of the patient's head during recording, which leads to severe disturbances.
The method we have developed analyses and corrects the movements and
eliminates these disturbances," explains Robert Frysch. "The research results of the medical engineers
are also of great importance for the diagnosis and treatment of aneurysms," adds the neuroradiologist.
He mentions stent placement or the insertion of an implant into the diseased vessel as therapy
options. "To help us decide how to treat an aneurysm, we are developing simulation and visualization
software, among other things. It considers patient-specific conditions and calculates the ideal
treatment strategy," explains Dr. Oliver Beuing. During interventions on humans, the software can
improve the visibility of implants and thus increase safety.
method for the control
of the imaging
software in the
Photo: © Harald Krieg
STIMULATE 32 | 33
THE MRI GANTRY
STIMULATE 34 | 35
FOCUS OF THE RESEARCH: SHARP IMAGES, SAFE INSTRUMENT TRACKING,
OPTIMAL PATIENT POSITIONING
"Our patients are getting older and older and many of them are diagnosed
with cancer", says Prof. Wacker, Director of Radiology at the Hanover Medical
School. "The elderly patients in particular benefit from minimally invasive,
image-guided precision therapies that are safe and effective and require only
a short hospital stay. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), hitherto little used
in this field, is an ideal modality for supporting minimally invasive procedures, especially in the field
of oncology, due to its excellent soft tissue contrast and the ability to show blood circulation as well
as heat development.
Dr. Urte Kägebein shows an MRI image: "The tumour in the liver is very well visible. The high image
quality is a result of magnetic resonance imaging," says the electrical engineering graduate. As a
result, not only can diagnostics in the MRI gantry be performed, but also the treatment. The research
teams of Urte Kägebein and Enrico Pannicke will contribute to the removal of a liver tumour as
shown in this picture by a minimally invasive MRI procedure.
The STIMULATE research groups still have some milestones ahead of them. One is real-time imaging.
This is almost achieved with three images per second, says Urte Kägebein. The problem, however,
is the image contrast in real time. The grey tone sometimes makes it difficult to distinguish the
tumour from the other tissue structures. The physicists and engineers at STIMULATE develop software
and hardware components that enable continuous MR guidance and can be integrated into any
scanners are to be developed
for curative minimally
invasive local therapies
of liver tumours.
The surgeon's interaction
with the MRI is
greatly simplified by
using the optical Moiré
Phase tracking system
on the needle.
Photos: © Harald Krieg
Another milestone is a novel intuitive instrument tracking method. After all, the instruments are to
be safely navigated through the human body and precisely positioned at their target point. “Our
idea is a tracking system with optical Moiré Phase markers”, says the scientist, who explains: "The
Moiré patterns can be compared with lenticular images. They change their appearance with minimal
rotation. The position and orientation of the markers can be measured by a camera inside the
MRI gantry and used to control the MRI image acquisition. When the needle is moved, for example,
through the patient's breathing, the imaging plane follows the movement."
The ablation probes, which are used for the novel local heat therapy of the liver tumor, are to
be guided in this manner. During heat therapy, microwaves heat the tumour from the inside. The
problem: the blood in the blood vessels transports the heat away from the tumour, so that it partially
cools down again.
“The ablation needle can only measure the temperature at its tip. In order to achieve complete
thermometry during the procedure, we would like to use the MRI device itself as a temperature
measuring device," says Dr. Urte Kägebein, naming another milestone. To take the liver as an
example: MRI technology offers a unique opportunity to measure physical parameters such as the
elasticity of liver tissue or temperature distribution. With the help of software developed in-house,
this information would merge with that of the ablation needle to form an image.
“In contrast to diagnostics, additional equipment is needed for the treatment inside the MRI gantry,
as well as medical staff working close to the patient. But the space in the gantry is and remains
limited," says Enrico Pannicke, drawing attention to the challenges posed by individual technical
developments: finding solutions that eliminate the additional power cables, that meet the sterility
demands of an operation, that improve access to the patient, that optimise patient positioning...
The engineers focus on the modular design of a patient table that meets the different scenarios of
an intervention. “It is important,” says Enrico Pannicke, "to ensure that the electronic components
operate in a strong magnetic field and do not interfere with the sensitive measuring system of the
STIMULATE 36 | 37
“MRI combines unrivalled tissue contrast with the unique possibility of
monitoring therapy during treatment and can thus significantly improves
minimally invasive tumour therapy as a curative method. Challenges are
the restricted access to the patient, the interaction between physician and
MRI device and an acceleration of the image acquisition. The STIMULATE
team has a strong expertise in these areas, has highly motivated physicians
and engineers and will bring MRI-guided tumour therapy to the patients'
daily clinical life for the benefit of the patients."
» » »
Prof. Oliver Speck
Institute for Experimental
Physics of the
Photo: © Harald Krieg
STIMULATE 38 | 39
"MORE AND MORE SURGEONS WANT A RELIABLE AND PRECISE ROBOT
AS AN ASSISTANT FOR COMPLEX INTERVENTIONS," SAYS PROF. NORBERT
ELKMANN, HEAD OF THE ROBOTIC SYSTEMS BUSINESS UNIT AT FRAUN-
HOFER IFF IN MAGDEBURG.
As a STIMULATE research partner, the IFF together with OVGU partners in
the Robotics Research Group are developing new technologies for the efficient
use of future medical robots. The scientist shows CT images of spinal
tumours in which a radiofrequency ablation needle has to be inserted in
order to heat and destroy the tumour. The big challenge: the needle must reach the tumour very
precisely and must not injure spinal nerves on its way. In order to ensure this, the robot supports the
intervention by means of precisely guided movements, thus improving precision and ergonomics.
Intuitive interaction and safe cooperation between humans and robots are at the forefront of the
developments of the IFF research team. In contrast to the classic industrial robot, the assistance
robot at the operating table will share the tasks and thus the workspace of the doctor - and must
therefore be safe and adapt autonomously to the dynamic environment. The robot movement
at the operating table cannot be determined in advance as with robots in industry," says Norbert
Elkmann. For this reason, the medical robot will be equipped with intelligent basic skills as part of
the project. According to Magnus Hanses, PhD student at Fraunhofer IFF, the robot must not be
dangerous for patients or medical staff. In addition, medical robots have to guarantee a continuous
functional availability, e. g. for the manual guidance of the robot. For this purpose, the IFF is
developing a new control architecture that combines motion generation with the concept of an additional,
forward-looking safety layer.
Prof. Rolf Findeisen's team also comes into play when it comes to equipping the robot with the
necessary sensitivity. The scientists at the Institute for Automation Engineering take the motivation
for their research from just such application requirements: they develop algorithms that dynamically
influence the behaviour of the robot. Just like the professor's arm, which lifts a full bottle from
robot for high-precision
Guiding aid to support
the placement of
Photos: © Harald Krieg
If the robot is to help
during surgery, it
must adapt to the
requires close interdisciplinary
science and control
the table, pours water into a glass and puts the emptied bottle down again,
the robot arm should also adjust its forces to the situation when it guides
the trocar, a puncture instrument used for example in minimally invasive
surgery, through different bone and tissue structures. It is intended to assist
the surgeon precisely at the feed and placement of the needle. “It should
even act with foresight and find the best possible decisions when it comes
to compensating for the patient's movements during breathing," said the scientist.
In order to guarantee this, Professor Frank Ortmeier from the Faculty
of Computer Science develops methods to find the optimal positions of the
robot arm - in which posture it can be strong, in which position it can be sensitive, in which position
it can be precise. Optimal search methods similar to route calculation are used in a navigation
system. "Our vision is that the robotic arm will continuously and proactively position itself in the
right position, analogous to a human assistant who supports the doctor during the procedure as
little as possible."
Photo: © Harald Krieg
STIMULATE 40 | 41
"Robots are characterised by their high precision and, combined with force
sensors, great sensitivity. Especially in medical robotics, these strengths can
be used for the benefit of patients and surgeons. The challenges are many
and diverse: the direct spatial interaction between humans and robots creates
new requirements in terms of safety and intuitive interaction, and the
robot must also possess a wide range of intelligent basic skills".
» » »
Photo: © Harald Krieg
STIMULATE 42 | 43
YOU ARE INVOLVED IN THE ADVISORY BOARD OF THE RESEARCH CAM-
PUS. WHAT ROLE DO YOU PLAY AND HOW CAN YOU INFLUENCE THE
I see my role as a sparring partner in consultative discussions about projects
and evaluation of their success, as well as in the medium- and long-term
strategy of the campus.
THE RESEARCH CAMPUS STIMULATE IS ORGANISED AS A PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP. HOW
DO YOU SEE THE STRENGTHS AND OPPORTUNITIES OF THIS COOPERATION BETWEEN SCIENCE
In addition to scientific excellence, STIMULATE is constantly called upon to keep an eye on the
impact for industry and the health care system and to monitor developments with priority, which
are expected to have a major impact.
THE LONG-TERM GOAL OF THE RESEARCH CAMPUS STIMULATE IS TO BUILD UP SUSTAINABLE
STRUCTURES, IN PARTICULAR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A GERMAN CENTRE FOR IMAGE-GUIDED
MEDICINE. WHAT IS NECESSARY TO ACHIEVE THIS AMBITIOUS GOAL?
What is needed is a gradual development towards an institution characterised by strong internal
coherence in the organisation of research and development, which is able to sustain
itself and develop far beyond 50% through third-party funding and industrial contracts.
fractals and 3D
Photo: © Jacobs,
WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE RESEARCH CAMPUS STIMULATE?
The acquisition of the research campus is a great success for the OVGU, which decided to focus
on medical technology as a highly promising area of research. STIMULATE deals with current and
clinically relevant topics. The focus on interventional techniques is up-to-date and the team is well
prepared for the current challenges thanks to the preparatory work in imaging, instrument development
and computer-aided intervention planning. After a successful start-up phase, substantial
developments can now be carried out with a clear focus on the four main themes.
HOW COULD THE RESEARCH CAMPUS STIMULATE BECOME EVEN MORE VISIBLE?
After the first years of establishment, engineers and computer scientists could concentrate on expanding
their network. The expansion relates to clinical and industrial cooperation. The best possible
local cooperation partners are not the best possible partners for every clinical problem dealt
with; in some cases, the best partners are not even in Germany. Siemens, as the main industrial
partner, has made the research campus possible and will remain the most important industrial
partner, but again, targeted contacts with other partners are required in order to implement sophisticated
solutions. Stronger networking would make it possible to work on larger projects efficiently
and in a distributed manner.
WHAT CHANGES IN CONTENT ARE TO BE EXPECTED?
There are some macrotrends relevant to STIMULATE that need to be carefully considered. The
current massive increase in digitisation is comprehensive, and its effects on processes, including
in medicine, are revolutionary. Artificial intelligence - especially in its most important form at the
moment, deep learning - makes many diagnostic questions in principle automatically solvable.
STIMULATE 44 | 45
Consideration must be given to how deep learning influences therapy planning
Sensor development is a similarly important trend: sensors are getting smaller
and cheaper. It will therefore be possible to use them in large numbers to
obtain a wide range of information about the patient and the position of
instruments. The sensors are also strongly integrated and networked via the
Internet of Things. MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems), which consist
of the smallest mechanical structures and logic elements, have great potential for innovative approaches.
The consequences for the support during an operation would have to be considered.
In software development, agile development methods have been very successful in recent years; the productivity
of many teams has grown by a factor of 2 to 5. This development also influences management,
which also needs to be more agile, i.e. less oriented towards detailed specifications and other complex
The dynamics created by these trends open up new areas of activity.
HOW SHOULD STIMULATE RESPOND TO THESE TRENDS ORGANISATIONALLY?
The great success achieved with the acquisition of the research campus would have to be preserved in
the long term. This includes the creation of structures that make it possible to engage top performers with
extensive know-how on a permanent basis. Basic funding of the research campus by the state or university
is essential. Freedom should be created to gain experience with new technologies and to initiate
and implement visionary projects. At the other end of the spectrum, STIMULATE must intensively strive to
attract industrial projects.
46 | 47
Photo: © KUKA
HEALTHCARE ROBOTICS UNDER ONE ROOF
KUKA@STIMULATE: ROBOT-SUPPORTED ASSISTANCE SYSTEMS IN THE OR
KUKA is a world leader in the use of robots in medical technology. KUKA
Medical Robotics have been involved with STIMULATE from the very beginning.
Michael Otto, Vice President of the Medical Robotics and Advanced
Robotics Division, and Cyrill von Tiesenhausen, Business Development
Manager for this division, explain why and what makes robots so special
in medical technology.
WHY IS KUKA MEDICAL ROBOTICS INVOLVED IN STIMULATE AND HOW
DID IT COME ABOUT?
von Tiesenhausen: KUKA is a member of the STIMULATE association because we are interested
in the applied research of the interdisciplinary team. There are engineers who develop new technologies
and physicians who want to use these technologies clinically. Our partner in Magdeburg
is above all the Otto-von-Guericke-University, but also the hospitals, the Fraunhofer IFF with
which we have been connected for a long time, and Siemens. The other companies involved in
the STIMULATE association are also interesting for us.
Dr. Cyrill von
Otto: Two years ago, the KUKA Medical Team (consisting of R&D and business development) was
trained in Magdeburg at the hospital as part of a training course, where it was given hands-on
experience of clinical procedures and current problems. We also support the annual conference
(IGIC), which takes place in alternation with Mannheim. Today the team consists of 40 employees,
many of whom come from medical technology research. Our aim is to bring together the
fields of healthcare, medical robotics and cooperation between human-robot-patient-physicians.
Photo: © KUKA
STIMULATE 48 | 49
von Tiesenhausen: Today, the ExFa offers not only the necessary workrooms and laboratory
space in close proximity to the clinics, but also all medical equipment for image-guided minimally
invasive therapies, which correspond exactly to the clinically used devices and are available for
research purposes alone. In this way, the participants can quickly get closer
to the practical questions and can be tested immediately for their clinical
suitability for everyday use.
WHICH ROBOTS ARE INVOLVED IN THE FIELD OF MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY?
Otto: With the ARTIS pheno, Siemens has launched a new robot-supported
angiography system on the market whose motorised core is a KUKA robot
for high payloads from the KR QUANTEC series with the KR C4 control
system. In the last few years we have adapted and extended this solution
for clinical applications. It automatically moves around the patient.
In addition, the new LBR Med should be mentioned, which is specifically aimed at small companies
that do not have the capacity to produce all the necessary registration documents themselves.
The included CB report according to IEC 60601-1 helps here.
WHAT DO YOU SEE IN THE FUTURE OF STIMULATE?
von Tiesenhausen: The greatest challenge in medical robotics is to implement innovations in such
a way that they can be used in everyday clinical practice. STIMULATE offers an excellent environment
to overcome this hurdle in the future and to test new methods.
Vice President Division
Medical Robotics and
Photo: © KUKA
STIMULATE 50 | 51
STIMULATE VITALISES THE RESEARCH SITE MAGDEBURG
SERVICE GROUP PROMOTES KNOWLEDGE AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER
Bringing scientific solutions and innovations to practical implementation is the concern of the "Service Group
Transfer" of the research campus STIMULATE. Under the leadership of the engineer Dr. Mandy Kaiser, a
network is being set up to intensify the exchange between industry and research, in both directions. “After
all, STIMULATE is supposed to generate positive economic effects," explains Mandy Kaiser.
The results of scientific work are to be applied in practice. In return, however, practitioners should
also define their technical requirements. "Bidirectional transfer" is what Mandy Kaiser calls this
exchange. This is a win-win situation for all parties involved, which is achieved through third-party
funded projects with industrial partners. The advantages are obvious: industry and scientific institutions
jointly carry out application-oriented research at STIMULATE and develop the corresponding
solution, which is then tested by medical practitioners.
A good example of how bidirectional transfer works is the technique developed at the STIMULATE
research campus for image correction in C-Arm imaging. Behind this bulky term is a procedure with
a robot-supported X-ray system - a so-called C-Arm - which moves around the patient and takes
X-ray images from many directions. In practice, however, patient movements, such as breathing,
cause undesirable image distortion. The research group "C-Arm Imaging" has therefore developed
a procedure to correct these distortions. “This is important for the assessment of cerebral haemorrhage
in stroke and for determining the subsequent treatment path," explains Dr. Mandy Kaiser.
The developed method has been clinically evaluated in the research campus and is now being
integrated by Siemens into its current research prototypes of the C-Arm software.
Within STIMULATE, a procedure for the reproducible measurement of the radiopaque visibility
of intravascular implants was developed. From these results, a service for the evaluation of such
implants was derived, which has already been used by implant manufacturers. This method has
already been introduced into the DIN standards committee for catheters and drains and has the
Dr. Mandy Kaiser
Chair of Medical Telematics
Technology at OVGU
Photo: © Stefan Berger
potential to become the future standard method.
Saxony-Anhalt has long recognised the innovative potential of closely interlinking companies and
research institutions in medical technology. The state has declared the healthcare and medical
industries to be one of its leading markets for innovation. In order to make better use of the existing
potentials, the Medical and Health Technology Cluster offers a platform on which medical
technology companies and research institutions of the state meet to promote knowledge transfer
and development cooperation. Dr. Mandy Kaiser, who represents the interests of STIMULATE on the
cluster's board, also knows that the opportunities offered by the cooperation
between scientists and medium-sized companies, between engineers and
physicians in Saxony-Anhalt, are something special throughout Germany.
These excellent professional conditions in Saxony-Anhalt also make education
attractive. A Bachelor's degree course in Medical Technology is offered
at the university, which now ranks second on the engineering sciences'
popularity scale. The Master's degree course in Medical Systems Engineering,
which was introduced in 2008, is a guarantee for the training of
further specialists in Saxony-Anhalt and attracts students from all over the
world to the city.
Graduates and students have the opportunity to set up their own companies during or after their
studies. Neoscan Solutions GmbH was founded in March 2017 in the vicinity of the research
campus with the aim of developing magnetic resonance tomographs especially for infants. In order
to promote further spin-offs, students, research assistants or graduates should be supported in the
realisation of their ideas and take the first steps towards self-employment in a practical environment.
At OVGU, the state-sponsored ego-incubators were set up specifically for this purpose. The
foundation laboratory for flexible electronics, FLEXtronic, offers students the opportunity to develop
their ideas into prototypes. The INNOLAB IGT (Image Guided Therapies) was established at the
University Hospital Magdeburg in 2016 and is intended to promote the development of innovative
instruments and devices in cooperation with the medical professions. In addition to the goal
of exploiting innovative potential and promoting the start-up mentality of young scientists, spin-offs
bind fully trained specialists to the region.
STIMULATE 52 | 53
However, it is not only the student community that benefits from the STIMULATE research campus.
In cooperation with the physicians, the scientific staff offers training modules and further education
courses, for example in medical imaging.
Equally important to the team around Dr. Mandy Kaiser is to present research results to a broad
public beyond the laboratory boundaries. For this reason, STIMULATE's work will be presented to a
broad public at the annual "Long Night of Science". In addition, the ExFa regularly hosts groups of
school children under the heading "Hands-on medical technology". In this way,
in addition to the teaching of technical content, there is also the opportunity to
recruit young people for medical technology studies.
For Dr. Mandy Kaiser, the work in the "Transfer Service Group" means setting
up collaborative projects, acquiring funding for the financing of further
research projects and accompanying start-ups. She promotes STIMULATE at
conferences and trade fairs. Initial successes have been achieved. ACES, an
engineering consulting and service company specialising in medical technology,
has moved from Filderstadt near Stuttgart to Magdeburg. The company is
hoping that its proximity to the university and its cooperation with STIMULATE
will boost innovation.
MedWaves, Inc. from San Diego also sees such advantages. The American medical technology
company produces probes that thermally destroy tumours and founded a branch in Magdeburg
at the end of 2016. A joint research project with the company is currently being prepared. “Such
settlements,” says Dr. Mandy Kaiser, “make STIMULATE attractive for other companies and research
institutions that see advantages in the proximity of the campus, for example, in the intensive exchange
and joint handling of research activities.”
STIMULATE 54 | 55
Photo: © Harald Krieg
FROM RESEARCH TO PRODUCT
» » »
The laboratories of the research campus are equipped with state-of-the-art large-scale medical
equipment used by scientists and cooperation partners. In this way, the researchers can experiment
under conditions close to the clinic and develop tailor-made solutions for the various medical
questions. The patient-free operation makes it possible to reliably plan and carry out extensive
experimental studies and investigations. A fact that is also attractive for the cooperating partners
from industry and science, as in the clinics, the corresponding equipment is fully utilised for treating
patients. At the research campus, doctors and medical technicians are trained and educated
on the devices. The students of the growing Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes in medical
technology also use the devices, to acquire knowledge about their function.
In the STIMULATE angiography laboratory, the researchers have a flexible X-ray unit mounted on
a robot arm, which is typically used for screening the patient in the operating room. The so-called
flat-panel detector X-ray C-Arm can take projection images from different perspectives and even
offers CT functionality, i.e. the acquisition of high-precision sectional images. At the research
campus, the scientists are investigating and developing ways of improving imaging in minimally
invasive surgery with the combined X-ray/CT device and thus applying it to new forms of therapy.
At the same time, the device forms the basis for new techniques of diagnosis and therapy of
strokes and aneurysms and for robot-assisted therapies of tumours of the spinal column.
The second core of the research campus' laboratories is the MRI device, which is also available
exclusively for research purposes. The device has an unusually large diameter of 70 centimetres -
ideal conditions for carrying out image-guided interventions within the gantry. Based on MRI, the
researchers are developing a high-tech operating room for the diagnosis and therapy of tumours
of the liver and other abdominal organs.
STIMULATE 56 | 57
In the medical technology development laboratory, employees have access
to workstations with electrical measuring technology, soldering tools,
equipment for material testing and microscopes as well as sterile workstations.
Here, surgical instruments and control units for the interaction of the
various high-tech devices in the operating room are developed.
Many questions of image-based minimally invasive medicine require not
only medical, but also mathematical and theoretical understanding of the
underlying processes. Interdisciplinary research is one of the cornerstones of
STIMULATE. Engineers, physicists and computer scientists simulate the individual
blood flow of a patient and visualise it in an appropriate way on the
screen, reconstruct layered images from simple projection images or extract
from the seemingly chaotic brain signals the patient's intention to control his
or her wheelchair. Computer scientists develop solutions that make it easier
for the operating physicians to control the highly complex medical machines.
Until now, they have been dependent on assistants to whom instructions are called out during the
intervention, or else they have operated control elements themselves at the operating table. This
could change in the future with new operating concepts: Leap Motion and gesture input are the
keywords that will enable doctors to control their machines precisely and intuitively by means of
hand signals. Voice control is also conceivable, provided the operating room conditions allow it.
Conversely, the reliable communication of the device with the physician is also the subject of
investigation. For example, organs can be projected onto the abdominal wall so that the doctor
can better orientate himself during a minimally invasive procedure. This computer-assisted augmented
reality, which is also possible via data goggles, is one of the computer scientists' research
Artis zeego (Siemens)
for the diagnosis and
therapy of neurovascular
3T (Siemens) with 70
cm tunnel diameter
for better patient
Photos: © Stefan Berger
STIMULATE 58 | 59
DR. OLIVER BEUING
Institute of Neuroradiology of the OVGU
As a neuroradiologist and head of a research group, the tasks in the research campus
STIMULATE are manifold. Our research group is the interface for all neuroradiological
teams. Among other things, we evaluate modern concepts for system control in
the intervention room, aneurysmal diagnostics and the visibility and safety of vascular
implants. Through an intensive exchange of information with industry partners such
as Siemens, Acandis and Primed, new processes and products are developed and improved
in accordance with our defined requirements. Through interdisciplinary work
on highly relevant clinical problems, STIMULATE will contribute to improving patient
DR. SYLVIA SAALFELD
Institute for Simulation and Graphics of the OVGU
My research group develops algorithms for the multimodal visualisation of tumour
diseases, visual exploration of intracranial aneurysms and their simulated blood flow
as well as the pre- and intraoperative registration of spinal surgery. Multimodal refers
to image data from multiple image acquisition systems. The clinical applicability is
particularly important to me and fast, robust results are required at the same time. I
strongly appreciate the interdisciplinary aspect of my work and the close cooperation
with clinical partners. In the long term, we hope that the developed techniques will
enable improved diagnosis of tumours and vascular diseases.
Photos: © Harald Krieg
Institute for Medical Technology of the OVGU
We are developing innovative devices and instruments to improve treatment in interventional
MRI. One problem for instance is the patient access and the special
environment of the MR tomograph. For example, normal drives for positioning instruments
are not applicable. One of our last achievements was a small MR-compatible
actuator to align markings on the patient surface. MR compatibility means that imaging
and the device functionality is not impaired, which is a key problem given the
sensitivity of the scanner and its strong magnetic fields. Furthermore, a new ablation
device and interventional coils are working topics of the group.
JUN.-PROF. CHRISTIAN HANSEN
Institute for Simulation and Graphics of the OVGU
Photos: © Harald Krieg
Our research group focuses on software to support image-guided medical procedures.
I am particularly interested in human-computer interaction in the operating
room. As sterile conditions prevail in the operating room, it is not possible to operate
with the keyboard and mouse. In addition, we are working on projecting relevant
information from the planning stage directly onto the patient. The aim of the group
is to integrate the methods step by step into clinical processes, to further expand our
clinical network and to facilitate a successful transfer into medical devices. As a junior
professor, STIMULATE offers me great opportunities for career development.
STIMULATE 60 | 61
Institute for Medical Technology of the OVGU
My field of research is the reconstruction of CT images using a robot-assisted X-
ray device (C-Arm) in the operating room. In particular, I am working on analysing
patient movement that takes place during recording and taking it into account in
the reconstruction process to achieve significantly better image quality. In addition,
I work closely with my colleagues on exciting topics such as dynamic perfusion (circulation)
and physical effects such as beam hardening, which are very important for
stroke diagnostics. We are trying to develop methods and algorithms that not only
produce better images, but can also provide images so quickly that they can be used
in clinical practice.
DR. URTE KÄGEBEIN
Institute for Experimental Physics of the OVGU
Within my research group, we want to create the conditions for continuous MR guidance
and control of percutaneous tumor ablations. My focus here is on the research
of a new kind of intuitive instrument tracking, which should enable an efficient interventional
workflow. The greatest demand in this work is that we implement our
research in such a way that it will continue to be used in the clinic in the future. It is
precisely this aspect that distinguishes the work here at the research campus - the
continuous intensive cooperation with our clinical partners both in our development
environment and in their clinical routine.
Photos: © Harald Krieg
DR. CHRISTOPH REICHERT
Leibniz-Institute for Neurobiology, Magdeburg
Brain-machine-interfaces (BMI) enable people to control machines through brain
activity. Our research group focuses on acquiring brain signals, extracting the necessary
information and providing feedback. Due to the variety of tasks associated with
BMI, our team consists of scientists from different disciplines such as electrical and
mechanical engineering, computer science and neuroscience. Our vision is to enable
paralysed patients to participate in life again. For this purpose, we develop new
approaches to a BMI-driven rehabilitation as well as assistant systems that can be
applied directly to patients at home. Our team provides assistance in both software
PROF. NORBERT ELKMANN
Fraunhofer-IFF Magdeburg, Germany
Photos: © Harald Krieg
We are developing an intuitive and safe assistance robot with comprehensive basic
skills that supports the physician in minimally invasive image-guided interventions. In
the current phase of the project, we are focusing on the treatment of spinal tumours
using radiofrequency ablation as an example. A particular challenge is to locate the
target structure with high accuracy and to compensate for its movement during the
invasion, thus ensuring safe and accurate placement of the surgical instruments. In
addition, the robot must be operated intuitively by the physician and must meet high
safety requirements. We are developing a flexible assistance robot system that enables
precise, patient-specific interventions such as spinal metastases, but can also be used
for other image-guided interventions.
STIMULATE 62 | 63
PD GÁBOR JANIGA
Institute for Fluid Mechanics and
Thermodynamics of the OVGU
Together with my team I want to develop new instruments and implants for vessels in
the brain. For this purpose, the blood flow behavior of various stent implants for the
treatment of brain aneurysms is investigated. I am particularly interested in how the
influence of different stents on blood flow behaviour can be predicted by means of
blood flow simulations. As an engineer, I am always fascinated by the complexity of
the human body. The long-term goal of my working group is to determine the stent
configuration on a patient-specific basis.
PROF. FRANK WACKER
Institute for Diagnostic and Interventional
Radiology of the Hanover Medical School
At the research campus STIMULATE, we are working on the clinical implementation of
MRI-assisted therapy. Our goal is to achieve a reliable and complete "A0 ablation" of
liver tumours. Exact imaging, precise guidance and comprehensive therapy monitoring
facilitates a complete destruction of the tumour with a safety margin.
In order to achieve this goal, there is a considerable need for development in technology
and medicine. Only seamless integration of the technology into the medical workflow
ensures reliable therapy. The special feature of the STIMULATE research campus
is that engineers from the University of Magdeburg, doctors from the Hanover Medical
School and developers from Siemens Healthineers are working on our common goal
of treating patients in MRI safely and effectively.
Photos: © Harald Krieg
STIMULATE 64 | 65
RESEARCH CAMPUS STIMULATE
Prof. Georg Rose
Spokesperson of the Research Campus STIMULATE
39106 Magdeburg, Germany
Tel.: +49 391-67-19350 Fax: +49 391-67-19347
Agency for design
PRIMUS international printing GmbH
Content: Prof. Bernhard Preim
In STIMULATE, interdisciplinary teams research and develop
image-guided minimally invasive diagnostic and therapeutic
methods for socially highly relevant disease patterns.