Calls for Transfer, News

Strong partnership paves the way for worldwide application: research team at UHH cooperates with Siemens Healthineers on innovative imaging method

The medical imaging method developed with the aid of Calls for Transfer should now be destined for use in laboratories around the world. To date, the imaging method could only be used in particle accelerator-based synchrotron plants. Professor Floran Grüner and his team at Universität Hamburg want to overcome this limitation and, in cooperation with with Siemens Healthineers and TU Berlin, find a way to apply this basic research in small laboratories, too. The project uses Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) ErUM-Transfer funding.

So-called X-ray fluorescence imaging can be used to trace immune cells in vivo – in living organisms – and thus gain new insights into inflammatory diseases. This innovative, groundbreaking application has been developed by a team headed by Professor Florian Grüner and Dr Theresa Staufer from the Department of Physics at Universität Hamburg (UHH) in cooperation with UKE. The research project has received C4T funding and has already won the Innovation Award for Synchrotron Radiation and was presented at CFEL in March 2023 during a visit by Hamburg’s Science Minister, Katharina Fegebank. Moreover, Dr Theresa Staufer, co-group head of the Universität Hamburg team, recently received funding from the Joachim Herz Stiftung to build the X-ray source prototype more compactly.

Despite breakthroughs in the research, an unsolved problem remains: to date, the imaging method can be used only in a particle accelerator-based synchrotron plant because only these large facilities are capable of delivering the special X-ray parameters required for imaging. Thus, access to this highly promising imaging is also highly restricted, for example for the Global South. Together with researchers from TU Berlin headed by Professor Birgit Kanngießer, the team has investigated whether conventional X-ray tubes used worldwide could actually deliver the necessary ray quality – with success, yet so far the measuring time is about 15 times longer than at a synchrotron. It is hoped to achieve the decisive breakthrough together with Siemens Healthineers, the world leader in high-performance X-rays, and with the aid of BMBF funding.

“The close cooperation with Siemens’ Healthineers will help us to master the large step from basic research to application in society. Only in this partnership can we reach the overarching goal of applying X-ray fluorescence imaging in many labs the world over—which will undoubtedly significantly increase the innovation potential of this imaging. After all, the more data available, the more ideas they generate,” says Professor Florian Grüner in the official UHH press release.

Initial spark through C4T

The research project (in cooperation with UKE and conducted at the PETRA III synchrotron at DESY) has been twice funded in the past five years through “Calls for Transfer” (C4T): both the important beam time at DESY in the initial project phase and the development of the first X-ray optics were enabled by C4T support, thus laying essential foundations for the next steps towards practical implementation.

The “Calls for Transfer” programme, made possible by the Hamburg Ministry of Science, Research, Equalities and Districts (BWFGB), has been promoting the transfer of ideas, knowledge and technology at Hamburg’s public universities since 2018. The programme supports project applications from all disciplines for up to one year with a maximum of €30,000. The funding programme has already enabled 134 ideas from Hamburg’s universities to enter the realisation phase.

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