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Professor Florian Grüner receives Innovation Award for X-ray fluorescence

The research project funded by “Calls for Transfer” has received the prestigious Innovation Award for Synchrotron Radiation 2022/2023, awarded annually by HZB (Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin). Professor Grüner and his team have developed an innovative medical imaging method that enables the direct tracking of active ingredients in living organisms, among other things. The real-time detection allows precise observation of immune responses or antibodies, meaning that chronic diseases could be better researched in the future.

Florian Grüner is professor at the University of Hamburg and at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL), a cooperation between DESY, the University of Hamburg and the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. The project, funded by Calls for Transfer, enabled Florian Grüner and his team to continue developing the so-called X-ray Fluorescence Imaging, XFI, resulting in a key breakthrough: The imaging method allows for the precise detection of the smallest tumours or the tracking of drugs or cells in living organisms, and thus in vivo. This newly developed synchrotron-based method promises to deliver important insights in future medical research, including in cancer treatment.

Tracking via X-ray fluorescence has been widely used at synchrotrons, but it was previously impossible to use the method for non-invasive detection of small quantities of elements. Now, Florian Grüner and his team have overcome these limitations, paving the way for directly investigating immune cells, optimising treatments and developing new treatment methods, for example.

Das Bild zeigt den Scan einer mit Paraffin umhüllten Tumorprobe aus Japan.
Scan of a paraffin-coated tumour sample from Japan Photo: UHH/AG Grüner


The pilot study, in cooperation with UKE and conducted at the PETRA III synchrotron at DESY, received funding from Calls for Transfer in 2022. “The C4T funding laid important foundations for this success, as it enabled us to test totally new ideas that we hadn’t done any preliminary work on,” said Professor Grüner. The project was presented in March 2023 and was presented in March 2023 during a visit by Hamburg Science Minister Katharina Fegebank to CFEL.


The Calls for Transfer programme, which began in summer 2018, promotes the transfer of ideas, knowledge and technology at Hamburg’s public universities, supporting project applications with a maximum of €30,000. Alongside the interdisciplinarity and creativity of the research approaches, the most import criteria in the C4T selection process are a high level of impact and innovation, the fundamental potential for transfer and the social or economic relevance of the project. The ninth call, which closed on 30.04.2023, marked the end of the successful pilot phase of the funding programme. Of the 63 project applications received from all of Hamburg’s public universities in this call, 16 ideas were selected to go forward to the implementation phase. We hope to see a continuation of this successful programme, financed by the Hamburg Ministry of Science, Research, Equalities and Districts (BWFGB), in 2024.

Picture credit in header: Michael Setzpfandt

More on C4T

You can find further information on the programme and answers to frequently asked questions here:

Calls for Transfer (C4T) funding programme





Contact person for Calls for Transfer

Mareike Post
Project Manager of the “Calls for Transfer” funding programme
Hamburg Innovation GmbH
Tel: +49 40 76629-3153

C4T stories

You can find further information on the programme and answers to frequently asked questions here:

Calls for Transfer (C4T) funding programme