The University of Tübingen has an impressive, internationally recognized infrastructure for imaging sciences and related areas (bioinformatics, omics facilities, histopathology) led by pioneers in their respective fields. In the Department of Physiology, Prof. Olga Garaschuk was the first to develop an approach for in vivo microscopic imaging of neural networks at a single cell resolution. Prof. Katja Schenke-Layland is one of the world leaders in applying Raman micro-spectroscopy to living cells, tissues and organs, and she leads one of the first groups to have employed these technologies in biomedical research and clinical work.

 

 

The Department of Preclinical Imaging and Radiopharmacy (Prof. Bernd Pichler) operates a preclinical research infrastructure focusing on integrative multi-modality imaging in laboratory animals (excluding non-human primates). Prof. Pichler has pioneered the field of simultaneous PET/MRI, in hard- and software development as well as the comprehensive analysis of multi-parametric images. His continuing work, supported by an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC), is focused on connecting imaging with metabolomics and proteomics information, going far beyond the current state-of-the-art of texture analysis and radiomics. The radiopharmacy unit is equipped with 10 good manufacturing practice (GMP) compliant hot cells, a cyclotron, 8 research hot cells and chemistry research labs, enabling GMP tracer production allowing innovative research and novel imaging probe development.

Technological advances in MR technology and MR imaging workflows are led by Prof. Klaus Scheffler and Prof. Fritz Schick. Prof. Scheffler is Chair of the Department of Biomagnetic Resonance at the University of Tübingen and leads the department of High-Field MRI at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen. He is internationally recognized for his achievements in parallel MRI acquisition and high-field MRI.

 

 

The clinical Departments of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology (Prof. Konstantin Nikolaou), Nuclear Medicine and Clinical Molecular Imaging (Prof. Christian la Fougère), and Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology (Prof. Ulrike Ernemann) contributed to all major innovations in multi-modality imaging and MR technology. The departments are advancing clinical research, translating results from preclinical research to clinical phase I, II and III studies. Examples are radiolabeled small molecules and innovative biologicals which are being tested for the first time in patients. In parallel to the preclinical research, the connection of imaging parameters and omics information is also being pursued in several clinical studies funded by the BMBF and EU.

 

 

Two important areas of great relevance for the advancement and innovation of imaging, which we will integrate into the ISCT are headed by Prof.  Kohlbacher and Prof. Ueffing.
Prof. Oliver Kohlbacher has created an excellent research and service infrastructure at the Department of Applied Bioinformatics with currently 10 associated member laboratories and core facilities supporting multi-omics and computer science (www.qbic.uni-tuebingen.de). Important for the ISCT, his research focuses on computational systems biology, algorithms for the analysis of high-throughput (omics) data, and structural bioinformatics. Prof. Kohlbacher has successfully acquired, within a recent call by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for research infrastructure, a grant to set up a core facility for quantitative biology (Quantitative Biology Center, QBiC), which supports researchers at the University of Tübingen with the generation, analysis, and interpretation of biomedical high-throughput data (genomics, metagenomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and lipidomics).

Prof. Marius Ueffing has coordinated a major mass-spectrometry focused imaging research cluster within the BMBF SYSTEC funding initiative. He heads the core laboratory for mass spectrometry (proteomics, metabolomics and transcriptomics, including quantitative methods based on the incorporation of stable isotopes) which closely interacts with QBiC. It is of utmost importance for the ISCT to integrate omics technologies methods with the core disciplines of in vivo imaging.

 

 

In addition to the institutes and core laboratories in Tübingen, the University of Stuttgart has excellent research groups with international acclaim in systems biology, image visualization, design and development of biologicals, as well as in microscopy technologies. The Stuttgart Research Center Systems Biology (SRCSB), led by Prof. Frank Allgöwer, combines biological, systems, and engineering sciences. The Universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen have been working closely together for many years, and thereby merged their expertise in imaging and systems biology, which is being funded by BMBF grants. Within the ISCT, systems biology is an important component, and a satellite group links applied imaging sciences with the core system biology expertise from Stuttgart.

Prof. Roland Kontermann heads the department of Biomedical Engineering at the Institute of Cell Biology and Immunology and focuses on the development of recombinant antibodies (small bispecific and bi-functional antibody molecules, and humanized antibodies) with improved biological and pharmacokinetic properties and targeted nanoparticulate carrier systems. His expertise complements the efforts in small molecule imaging probe design (Prof. Laufer) at the ISCT through a satellite group. Prof. Pichler and Prof. Kontermann have collaborated in several BMBF funded projects for antibody design, radiolabeling and in vivo imaging and characterization.

 

 

The Director of the 3. Physics Institute and Center of Applied Quantum Science at the University of Stuttgart, Prof. Jörg Wrachtrup, is an internationally highly recognized expert in solid state quantum optics and spintronics with applications in modern microscopy and biophysics. His innovations contribute to the next generations of advanced light microscopy methods in combination with MRI. He is recipient of an ERC Advanced Grant and Spokesman of the DFG Research Group FOR 1493, focusing on diamond materials for quantum applications, which bear an enormous potential for the next generation of MR contrast agents. Professors Pichler’s and Scheffler’s groups are working in close cooperations with members of the FOR 1493 group on initial in vivo evaluations.

Important partners of the ISCT are the Max-Planck-Institutes in Tübingen and Stuttgart for Biological Cybernetics, Intelligent Systems and Developmental Biology. Prof. Klaus Scheffler leads research for biomedical magnetic resonance at the University of Tübingen and heads the Department of High-Field Magnetic Resonance at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biological Cybernetics. This center is equipped with human 3 T and 9.4 T MRIs and a 14 T MRI for small animals, which are integrated into the ISCT. Prof. Scheffler is also focusing on ultra-low-field MRI for hyperpolarized imaging; his group is directly part of the ISCT.

 

 

An additional, important contribution is provided by Prof. Bernhard Schölkopf, Director of the Department of Empirical Interference at the Max-Planck-Institute for Intelligent Systems. His research focuses on machine learning approaches, which have already successfully been integrated in several cooperative imaging projects in Tübingen. Machine learning plays an especially essential role in the analysis and mining of integrative multi-parametric in vivo imaging, histology, and omics data. Prof. Schölkopf and Prof. Pichler have successfully co-supervised several PhD students.

Prof. Metin Sitti, Director of the Department of Physical Intelligence at the Max-Planck-Institute for Intelligent Systems, aims to understand the principles of design, locomotion, perception, learning, and control of single and large numbers of small-scale mobile robots inside of living organisms. This novel approach is combined with imaging to track the robots in vivo, and will soon be implemented at the ISCT.