Universität Ulm

Ulm University considers itself as an international research institution that follows an integrated concept of teaching, research, and innovation as three interconnected pillars. Its research mainly focuses on concrete global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, health and digitalisation. Ulm University enjoys an excellent reputation for innovative research, interdisciplinary education, and successful training. In recent years, it has been ranked continuously among the world’s top 15 young universities and as one of the best in Germany (Times Higher Education “150 below 50”); in 2017 it ranked among the top 10 worldwide. More than 10,600 students are enrolled in the four faculties ‘Engineering, Computer Science and Psychology’, ‘Mathematics and Economics’, ‘Medicine’ and ‘Natural Sciences’. The University is a central part of the Science City of Ulm, not only as the region’s largest educational institution, but also as an important motor for R&D. In the cooperative model Science City Ulm, universities, research institutes and industrial companies work together intensively at a regional level to explore and develop new technologies and transfer high-quality devices, processes and systems from science into industrial applications, new products, methods and services to strengthen innovations. These efforts include close collaborations with start-up companies, e.g. in microelectronics or semiconductor laser technologies. As of 31 December 2016, a total of 3,687 staff members were employed at the university. In all, 215 professors and 15 junior professors worked as lecturers at the university.

The main expertise brought in include optimised dedicated acquisition and reconstruction techniques tailored for the demands of specific applications. Especially the previous work on ultrashort echo time sequences, low-discrepant k-space coverage and reconstruction of highly undersampled data directly match the demands of bringing hyperpolarised MR imaging and spectroscopy to the clinics. 

Role in project

The main role is the development of advanced imaging (MRI) techniques tailored for the specific demands of imaging hyperpolarised compounds. Special focus will be put on the potential future translation of results to the clinical routine. The developed MRI techniques will then be provided to all members of the consortium for further preclinical development with the aim to support further clinical development in the future.

Contributions will be done for the development of dedicated hardware enabling multi-nuclei imaging and on the partners’ pre-clinical systems and on conventional clinical MR systems.

Max-Planck Gesellschaft Mainz

The Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPIP) ranks among the top research centres in the field of polymer research worldwide. The institute was founded in 1983 on the campus of the Johannes Gutenberg University and commenced work in June 1984. The focus on so-called soft materials has resulted in the worldwide unique position of the MPIP and its research focus. The MPIP offers ideal conditions for conducting outstanding research in polymer science. The institute combines all the necessary specialised expertise – from the creative design of new materials, from their synthesis in the laboratory to their physical characterisation as well as the theoretical understanding of polymer characteristics.

The Institute is divided into six main research areas:

  • Multiscale Challenges
  • Proteins at Interfaces
  • Non-equilibrium Structure Formation
  • Water at Interfaces
  • Defect Engineering
  • Nanomaterials in Medicine

There are strong interactions between the different departments working on interdisciplinary research projects. In addition, the institute has several service groups at its disposal, e.g. analysis of polymers, spectroscopy, electronic data processing, x-ray structure analysis, electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy and mechanical spectroscopy. Each service group is headed by one of the institute’s directors, but these services are accessible to all the scientists at the institute.

The department of physical-chemistry of polymers is a worldwide leading group in the synthesis and characterisation of polymer-based, nano-dimensional colloids. Tailored chemical compositions of nanoparticles for biomedical, material-science and coating applications is our key competence. Furthermore, we offer thorough characterisation of the synthesised materials by means of electron microscopy, polymer analytics and scattering methods. In addition, the department has the facilities to determine the biomedical properties of the synthesised colloids. With this, the department of physical-chemistry of polymers holds the facilities for the complete chain of knowledge ranging from the synthesis to the biomedical characterisation of nano-sized polymeric nanoparticles. The department of macromolecule synthesis is a leading group in the synthesis of functional (bio)hybrid materials with special focus on designing materials for biomedical applications. The combination of biopolymers derived from proteins with nanodiamonds has provided new avenues for designing advanced nanomaterials for imaging and therapy. The MPIP will contribute to the research project with its renowned expertise in nano-encapsulation, synthesis of polymer nanoparticles, preparation and surface functionalisation of nano-diamonds.

Role in project

Hyperpolarised molecules are sensitive to any uncontrolled contact with the environmental surrounding. However, in order to use the developed hyperpolarisation strategies for medical applications, it is of vital importance to protect the probe molecules from any external influence. It will be one aim of the WP carried out at the MPIP, to encapsulate the sensitive probes in a way to conserve the hyperpolarisation and furthermore to equip the encapsulation shell with functionalities that yield an added value to the probe system for medical applications. In addition, diamonds will be developed with increasing concentrations of 13C they will be coated with biopolymers that will prohibit aggregation.