Helmholtz Institute for Biomedical Engineering

Entrance to the Helmholtz Institute for Biomedical Engineering RWTH Aachen

The Aachen Helmholtz Institute connects interdisciplinary basic research with application-oriented research and development in biomedical engineering. Research highlights of the institute lie in diagnostics, therapy development, and the applied life sciences.

The Helmholtz Institute

The collective goal of all the initiated projects, activities, and measures is the invention and development of new biomedical technologies.

The application of new methods should contribute to the best possible medical therapy of patients and their rehabilitation.

The Rectorate has appointed members from four faculties to the Helmholtz Board of Directors for the coordination, strengthening, and interweaving of these activities in research and teaching at RWTH Aachen.

Areas of Research

The areas of research, represented by chairs at RWTH Aachen, can be outlined as follows.

Areas of Research at the Helmholtz-Institute for Biomedical Technology
Applied Medical Engineering
Applied medical engineering distinguishes itself through the combination of "classic" medical technology with the natural sciences, in particular with the biosciences. Research and development work include modeling, design, construction of prototypes, experimental validation, and preclincal testing of medical products to the technological accompaniment of innovative processes and products in the hospital.

Biomaterials research is closely linked to the understanding of the traits and functions of biomolecules. Research topics include, among others, the modification of biomaterial sufaces with glycan structures as cellular recognition signals for to initiate cell adhesion, cell differentiation, cell proliferation, and tissue formation; the specific recognition of disease-related alteration of glycan structures by immobilized lectins, and the development of diagnostic platform technology for the detection of disease-related glycosylation defects.

Medical Information Technology
Questions in the areas of personal health care and automation technology in medicine are at the focus. Personal health care encompasses portable medical equipment, that is specially designed for diagnostic use at home, for example smart textiles and so called body area networks. Automation technology in medicine containts the creation of models and the implementation of feedback therapy processes and deals with tools and methods for the modelling and substitution of physiological regulatory circuits, for example sensory supported artificial breathing, active brain pressure analysis, or the regulation and optimization of dialysis.

Medical Engineering
Medical engineering at the HIA primarily works in the fields of computer-assisted planning systems for therapy and biomechanics and ergonomics in medicine. In addition to the indispensable medical foundations and the development and application of modern technologies and engineering methods, aspects from product ergonomics and security are particularly attributed to the development and evaluation of medical systems of particular meaning.
Molecular Imaging
The assessment of fucntional and molecular data by non-invasive imaging has become a substantial part of preclinical research in the past few years. Goals include the application and development of new imaging processes and contract agents for the system-biological explanation of pathophysical relationships and for evaluating novel therapy concepts.
Cell Biology
Research activities include, among others, studies on the growth and development potential of stem cells and pluripotent stem cells - primarily in hematopoietic stem cells - and the identification of genes, factors, and conditions, that directly control the growth and development potental of stem and precursor cells. This includes the production of cells with new and desired traits (key word "engineering") and the transplant of these cells in vivo to repair cell and tissue damage.
A central object of investigation is biomineralization, the interaction of cells and tissues with minerals. Diseases of human tissues are often associated with undesired mineralization. This can occur in the shape of locally confined deposits, for example the calcification of arteries or heart valves. The following questions are being investigated, in order to better understand the process of undesired mineralization, commonly called calcification: What do the contact surfaces between cells and minerals looks like? What molecules provide close contact? What happens at the bordering surface between cells and minerals, the "bionterface"?