“Science Boot Camp”



IBMI Retreat 2013 aka speed dating! – The Summary

The two day scientific IBMI retreat took place last week at Kloster Kostenz in the Bavarian Forest. I only have three words to describe it- “scientific boot camp”. The aim was to increase collaboration within the IBMI institute and learn what the other eight groups are currently working on, learn all about our scientific as well as administrative goals. The first day consisted of a series of talks from the group leaders. First up was Daniel on Optoacoustics & Molecular Imaging Engineering. He talked about the evolution of the MSOT system, its advantages over the other modal systems as well as its current limitations. He mentioned a variety of current technological efforts going on in his lab including the 3D handheld imaging device and the finger imaging project.

Next up was Gil. He introduced a very broad and general overview of what is going on in our lab and the ideas around Molecular Magnetic Resonance Imaging. We are a molecular neuroimaging focussing on a whole brain coverage that target molecular specificity in which enables us to see biological processes in vivo facilitated by CAs. There are number of parameters which we can control, for example ligand/receptor binding, EM, neurotransmitters and also ion influxes.

Andreas talked about the technological development of MSOT. In detail, his work on hardware and image reconstruction. As well as photoacoustic endoscopy and mesoscopic MSOT, his focus also includes universal clinical real-time MSOT imaging platform with dynamic distinction between melanin and blood quantitatively.

Amir talked about his work on Interferometric Detectors. This was the hardest to follow for me. I am now only learning about the technology and the content was far from my comfort zone. What I got was that they are developing and minituarising sensitive fibres for use in latest imaging tools. For example for ultrasound, the current element used is piezo electric material which converts pressure into voltage. I did learn however some of its pros and cons associated with this. To name a few, it’s opaque, relatively bulky and miniaturisation reduces its sensitivity but its use is robust and reliable and gives us wideband appropriate for imaging. He advices that silica is great but bad for optoacoustic detection. His current papers focuses on Fiber Bragg grating for sensing ultrasound. It is small (can get into blood vessels) and guides light but for big detection, spatial averaging is a problem. The ideas include having an interrogation system which has robust operation for sensing ultrasound in a volatile environment.

Beatriz’s talked was of interests for me, especially as a chemist. She talked about her work on Fluorescence Molecular Imaging and Tomography. Specificity to certain cells and targets were highlighted with real-time acquisition of different generations of contrast agents  She mentioned the main challenges in the field such as light-tissue penetration, measurements of optical parameters and post processing.

Vladimir spoke about the Demands on Molecular Imaging in Biomedical applications. This turned out to be the most interesting in my opinion because I am interested in cancer agents for treatments. There were a lot of mentioned with the challenges in biological imaging resolution vs optical penetration- the usual story. Currently, there are < 5% of in-vivo molecular target probes for cancer. There are varieties such as genetic tags (mCherry, GFP, RFP), antibodies (EGFR), small molecules (peptides, ICG, RGD) and NP (Au, CNPs, Q-dots, Liposomes). Several mode of actions in vivo includes vascular agents, targeted agents and activatable agents. All of which are very broad and are active research interests of many groups all over the world. But it was interesting to hear briefly about the work on in vivo cancer studies and ex-vivo support. Not to mention the combination of different imaging modalities which have added value on its overall application.

Last but not least was Karl-Hans giving his presentation on Imaging and Signal Processing . He mentioned some models he is working on based on segmentation in micro CT, for example breast tumour research analysis.

After the presentations, it was set up so that we were able to have bilateral group discussions with other groups to elaborate common research grounds now that we have heard all the general individual main group research and in parallel improve collaboration. It was set up exactly like a speed dating lasting twenty minutes, it was even called exactly that. It was set up so that all the groups have seen every other group. It was approaching ten o’clock in the evening when we finally finished and greeted by our director, Vasilis with his talk on Thermoacoustic Imaging and Multispectral Optoacoustic Mesoscopy (MSOM) and also about our overall goals at IBMI. We then proceeded to all paid open bar…

The second day started with a nine o’clock group discussions elaborating a short summary of potential future collaboration and synergy with other groups. Each group leaders then presented this to everyone followed by final discussions with Vasilis as the moderator. The discussions also included talks about what has improved, how we can improve the retreat, how can talks better be assigned to individuals, increase our visibility and increase communication.

Over and Out,


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