TUM – Latest news https://www.tum.de Latest news of TUM en TUM Wed, 27 May 2020 22:28:00 +0200 Wed, 27 May 2020 22:28:00 +0200 High-resolution 3D view inside tumors https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/36044/ Malignant tumors consume nutrients and oxygen faster than healthy cells. To do so, they recruit blood vessels in their environment. Depending on tumor type and genetic profile, there are differences on how tumors look internally. Typically, tumors present different patterns across their volume. The role of this spatial heterogeneity is not well understood or studied in living tumors. Typically used to understand biological functions in tumors, optical microscopy, for example, gives limited insights into the spatial heterogeneity of tumors as it only accesses volumes of less than a cubic millimeter.

Research news lisa.pietrzyk@tum.de news-36043 Tue, 26 May 2020 09:51:30 +0200
How fungi are becoming the future https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/36041/ This policy paper, recently published by the pan-European think tank EUROFUNG headed by Professor Dr.-Ing. Vera Meyer (TU Berlin), summarizes the discussions taking place place between leading European and American researchers and global businesses.

The experts are in absolute agreement: Fungal biotechnology is a driver of innovation and growth for a range of industries and can help transform our petroleum economy into a biobased economy. Investing in this future technology will enable a sustainable change in how we live and work.

Research news katharina.baumeister@tum.de news-36040 Mon, 18 May 2020 10:43:17 +0200
State of Bavaria raises AI research to new heights https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/36038/ TUM is currently the only German university ranked among the top 10 in international AI research. Through the establishment of th Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence (2017), the TUM Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence (2019), and the Munich Data Science Institute (2020), now in the launch phase, the wide-ranging expertise and skills of the approximately 60 professors working in machine learning and AI fields at TUM today have been provided with an interdisciplinary framework and channeled into forward-looking, innovative fields of activity.

By establishing 14 new professorships, including two under the auspices of multi-location Bavarian research cooperatives, the initiative aims to make TUM a world-class player for research and innovation in AI and machine intelligence. AI and intelligent robotics in medicine, bio-inspired robotics for mobile applications, AI for new materials and processors, and resource-conserving machine learning are just a few examples of TUM's strategic policy for academic appointments. With the new research chairs, TUM hopes to deliver a major boost to the development of responsible and reliable AI and, in close cooperation with the other universities and research partners in the Bavarian AI network and its affiliated institution, UnternehmerTUM, will seek to capture new, value-generating synergies.

“Driving the growth of top-level expertise at the local level while forging strong and coherent cooperative relationships among leading research sites is the only effective strategy for pushing Bavaria to the forefront in the global race for AI innovations. With the new AI research appointments under the Hightech Agenda Bayern – confidently announced against the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis and the resulting budgetary challenges – the Bavarian government is sending out a clear message, signaling its firm commitment to the future. In this way, Bavaria, with its innovation metropolis of Munich, will establish itself as the foremost AI hub in Germany and Europe,” said Prof. Thomas F. Hofmann, the President of TUM.

Campus news news-36038 Fri, 15 May 2020 12:21:52 +0200
A disease trigger for pancreatitis has been identified https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/36036/ Patients suffering from chronic pancreatitis experience an either recurring or permanent inflammation of their pancreas. “In many cases, people develop this disease because they are drinking too much alcohol or they are smoking too much. Certain medication or high levels of lipids or calcium in a patient’s blood can be another cause of pancreatitis,” explained Heiko Witt, one of the two heads of the study and Professor for Pediatric Nutritional Medicine at the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Zentrum (EKFZ) at TUM. 

The main focus of previous research was on the so-called acinus cells of the pancreas; these are responsible for creating digestive enzymes. Many patients suffering from genetically caused pancreatitis show mutations in digestive enzymes or in molecules inhibiting the enzymes’ effectiveness.

Research news katharina.baumeister@tum.de news-36035 Wed, 13 May 2020 09:24:04 +0200
Safe landings in rough seas https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35923/ As the pilot aims for the helicopter landing platform on the deck, the ship heaves, pitches and rolls violently in the storm, with visibility made worse by the sea spray and dense cloud cover. The helicopter must maintain a safe distance from the superstructures on the upper deck to avoid contact with the aircraft’s rotor blades – but also needs to be far enough from the edge of the deck to avoid the overhanging fuselage pulling it backwards into the sea. Pilots often have to make repeated attempts at the landing maneuver.

Researchers at TUM have modelled this challenging and dangerous situation using the helicopter simulator at the Chair of Helicopter Technology. They are developing solutions to make it safer for pilots to execute approaches and landings on ships and ocean platforms – even in bad weather with high seas and low visibility.

Research news stefanie.reiffert@tum.de news-35922 Mon, 11 May 2020 09:56:00 +0200
New x-ray method for Corona diagnosis ready for patient testing https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/36031/ Reliable methods for identifying the new Coronavirus are crucial during the pandemic it has caused. In addition to biochemical tests, x-ray methods can also be used to identify pathological changes in the lung that can typically accompany Covid-19. These x-ray methods make it possible to examine large numbers of patients within a very short time, providing results immediately after the examination.

Deflected x-rays exposes areas with damaged pulmonary alveoli

Working together with colleagues from the university hospital TUM Klinikum rechts der Isar, Franz Pfeiffer, Professor for Biomedical Physics and Director of TUM’s Munich School of BioEngnieering, now plans to test the new dark-field x-ray imaging procedure in the diagnosis of Covid-19.

While conventional x-ray imaging shows the attenuation of x-rays on their way through tissue, the dark-field method focuses on the small share of the x-ray light which is scattered, i.e. diverted from its straight path. Conventional x-ray images ignore this scattered x-ray light.

The new method thus uses the physical phenomenon of scattering in a way similar to long-established dark-field microscopy technologies using visible light. They make it possible to clearly visualize objects which are for the most part transparent and which appear in the darkfield microscope as clear structures in front of a dark background, giving dark-field microscopy its name.

“The scattering is particularly strong for example at interfaces between air and tissue,” says Pfeiffer. As a result, a dark-field image of the lung can clearly distinguish areas with alveoli that are intact, i.e. filled with air, from regions in which the alveoli have collapsed or are filled with fluid.

In pneumonia of the type caused by Covid-19, structures form in the lung which initially resemble cotton wadding or spider webs and which then spread throughout the lung and fill with fluid. In combination with other typical symptoms these structures are a clear indication of a Covid-19 infection. The changes in the lung are associated with damage to the alveoli which could be clearly visible in dark-field images.

Innovative method

Dark-field imaging with x-rays is a completely innovative examination method in medicine. Over a period of more than ten years Franz Pfeiffer and his team developed the method from its very beginnings. Professor Pfeiffer presented the fundamental approach, which makes it possible to use the method with conventional x-ray tubes of the type found in physician's offices, in 2008.

Until then the method required x-rays of a higher quality available only from synchrotron light sources – complex large research facilities. After the initial laboratory experiments, Pfeiffer and his staff members worked in close collaboration with physicians to develop the method further. Now a device, which is suitable for examining patients is available.

Low radiation doses

Examinations using dark-field technology would involve exposure to a significantly lower radiation dose than the computed tomography used today. This is because the new technology requires only a single image per patient, while computed tomography requires a large number of individual images taken from various angles. The changes caused by Covid-19 cannot be clearly identified in a conventional two-dimensional x-ray image.

Now that the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz) has issued its approval, testing can begin within the next weeks. Here the researchers will offer patients at the university hospital TUM Klinikum rechts der Isar who are being examined for Covid-19 with computed tomography the chance to also undergo examination using the dark-field method.

This is intended to confirm that the illness can be reliably diagnosed using this approach. “We're very optimistic, since at present this method is also highly successful in tests for other illnesses which are associated with changes in the lung,” says Prof. Marcus R. Makowski, Director of the Institute for Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology at the university hospital TUM Klinikum rechts der Isar.

Accelerating development of equipment

Franz Pfeiffer hopes that these tests will speed up clinical studies and the development of marketable equipment that uses the dark-field method. “It would certainly be over a year before this kind of device was available. But we can assume that the demand for cost-effective, reliable and low-impact Covid-19 diagnostics will remain unchanged for quite some time,” Pfeiffer points out.


Covid-19 Research news paul.piwnicki@tum.de news-36030 Thu, 07 May 2020 10:00:00 +0200
Pioneering work: Prototype of a new fuel https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/36033/ The Technical University of Munich and the French fuel element manufacturer Framatome have agreed to collaborate with the aim of producing new, low-enriched fuel elements for the research neutron source Heinz Maier-Leibnitz in Garching north of Munich.

The contract provides for a joint pilot project to manufacture a monolithic U-Mo fuel with an enrichment of 19.75%. It includes the development of a pilot production line and thus the production of fuel plates for radiation tests. These tests are a central part of the qualification of the new fuel especially for research reactors in Europe.

"We have invested many years of research work," says TUM President Prof. Thomas F. Hofmann. "With this project we are on the way to the future. We want to create the basis for the use of safe, low-enriched research neutron sources in science as well as for medical and industrial applications."

Research news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-36032 Wed, 06 May 2020 11:50:46 +0200
High rankings for TUM degree programs https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/36028/ Every three years the CHE rates subjects at more than 300 universities. The main objective is to offer guidance to prospective students. To compile the rankings, the center conducts surveys of students and assesses various performance indicators. In around 30 categories, which vary from subject to subject, universities are classified in three groups (top, middle and bottom).

The latest issue, released today, covers management and information systems. Students at TUM awarded top marks to both areas under the criteria courses offered, research orientation and career orientation. TUM is also listed in the top group with regard to IT infrastructure and the equipment provided in libraries and other spaces. In addition, the CHE analysis shows that TUM provides optimal support during the study entry phase.

TUM in Rankings klaus.becker@tum.de news-36028 Tue, 05 May 2020 11:37:51 +0200
TUM to lead AI Future Lab for Earth observation https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/36026/ The purpose of the international Future Labs: bringing together top international scientists to tackle some of the biggest questions currently facing AI researchers. In March 2019, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the BMBF, launched its grant competition.

The BMBF has awarded grant funding to three winning projects across Germany, including the “Artificial Intelligence for Earth Observation: Reasoning, Uncertainties, Ethics and Beyond (AI4EO)” Lab. TUM will helm the project, with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) as a close research partner.

Research news stefanie.reiffert@tum.de news-36026 Mon, 04 May 2020 12:42:00 +0200
Superatoms as catalysts https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/36024/ Catalysts ensure both energy and cost efficiency for more than 60 percent of all chemical reactions in the chemical industry. For example: without the precious metals of the platinum group, the catalytic converters used in today’s automotive exhaust systems wouldn’t work. Fuel cell drives, too, also still currently rely on expensive platinum catalyzers to function.

Because only the surface atoms of these platinum particles are active during catalytic reactions, the chemical industry is looking for ways to replace this precious metal with cheaper metals or by developing ever-smaller catalyst particles. A platinum particle with a one-nanometer diameter is comprised of only 40 atoms.

A Reinhart Koselleck Project led by TUM Professor Roland Fischer is approaching the issue from a new angle: he and his team have succeeded in building a particle that is comprised of 43 copper and 12 aluminum atoms. The research project, which will be supported with 1.2 million Euros in funding from the DFG, aims to determine how these kinds of particles – known as “superatoms” – can be manufactured in a systematic fashion.

Campus news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-36024 Thu, 30 Apr 2020 08:00:00 +0200
Improving immunotherapy for cancer https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/36023/ Our immune system not only protects us against infection, but also against cancer. This powerful protection is based in particular on the activation of special cells of the immune system, CD8+ T cells. These cells recognize infected or cancer cells and kill them specifically.

“The ability of the immune system and especially CD8+ T cells to eliminate cancer cells in tissues such as the lung, gut and liver is often limited in tumor patients,” explains Percy Knolle, Professor of Molecular Immunology at the Technical University of Munich (TUM).

Research news Katharina.Baumeister@tum.de news-35998 Wed, 29 Apr 2020 10:13:00 +0200
Researchers develop software for drug repurposing https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35999/ In order to find out which existing drugs might be suitable for the treatment of Covid-19, numerous research groups from all over the world are working on systems medicine approaches. A research team from the Chair of Experimental Bioinformatics (ExBio) at the TUM School of Life Sciences of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now developed the first online data analysis platform for this purpose.

Covid-19 Research news Susanne.Neumann@wzw.tum.de news-35996 Mon, 27 Apr 2020 10:35:00 +0200
Encryption system for a secure contact tracing app https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35995/ Researchers around the world are working hard on measures to bring the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus under control. One approach seen as promising is the idea of slowing the spread of the virus by means of secure digital contact tracing based on a globally compatible app.

Among the research groups working on contact tracing apps is ContacTUM, an interdisciplinary team from the fields of physics, informatics, law, mathematics and medicine anchored by the physicist Prof. Elisa Resconi.

Covid-19 Research news christine.lehner@tum.de news-35995 Fri, 24 Apr 2020 13:37:07 +0200
Parasite larvae could help fight allergies https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35994/ The larvae of the roundworm Heligmosomoides polygyrus bakeri (Hpb) need a very special environment in order to survive: They have to invade the mucosal layer of the intestine in rodents, the only place where they can then develop into adult worms capable of reproduction. To do this, the tiny larvae have to outdo the host's immune system, which defends the host against the intruders with inflammatory reactions, the secretion of fluids and muscle contractions. “Normally the larvae of the parasitic worm would have no chance of withstanding these immune responses. But they use active molecules to specifically modulate the immune response of the host,” explains Dr. Julia Esser-von Bieren, researcher at the Center of Allergy and Environment (ZAUM) at Technical University of Munich and Helmholtz Zentrum München. “We want to harness these evolutionarily matured active ingredients to treat chronic inflammatory diseases.”

Research news lisa.pietrzyk@tum.de news-35992 Fri, 24 Apr 2020 09:00:00 +0200
The future of digital studies has arrived https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35993/ The first day of the summer semester saw TUM students access more than 60,000 teaching videos. As part of the university's "TUM Digital First" strategy, lecturers have applied great effort and creativity in producing these videos in recent weeks, mostly working from home. In order to master the didactic challenges associated with this migration to online teaching, they received comprehensive support from TUM experts in university didactics in the form of numerous webinars, online courses, didactic concepts and format examples. At the same time TUM has modified its IT infrastructure to accommodate the enormous challenges, for example holding lectures where teachers interact with 1,000 students worldwide. Students alike are making a tremendous effort, too: Approximately 400 student aids have been trained as “e-scouts” to support instructors with processing videos, holding online tutorials and accompanying discussion forums and chats.

Covid-19 Campus news news-35993 Thu, 23 Apr 2020 11:50:00 +0200
Computer model enables protective ventilation https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35990/ For patients suffering from acute lung failure (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, ARDS), mechanical ventilation is a lifesaving treatment. But the situation is paradoxical: at the same time that medical teams employ ventilation to keep a patient’s lungs open to ensure the continuous exchange of oxygen and CO2, the ventilation pressure can cause such severe damage to the lungs that it results in the patient’s death.

Doctors treating patients for acute respiratory problems have a limited range of parameters to work with when determining the best protocol for mechanical ventilation – pressure limits, oxygen level and air flow, for example.

But the lung is a complex organ, and the amount of pressure necessary to keep all parts of the lung open to airflow can actually cause damage to some parts through overdistention of the tissue. Additionally, doctors need to minimize repeated recruitment and derecruitment of parts of the lungs during mechanical ventilation, since both can irritate the lung tissue and trigger inflammation.

Covid-19 Research news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-35989 Thu, 23 Apr 2020 06:00:00 +0200
In-ear sensors to help in fight against COVID-19 https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35988/ The illness caused by the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, can be roughly divided into two stages. During the first stage, in which symptoms are not acute, infected individuals can generally remain at home. In serious cases, this is followed by a second stage with worsening symptoms in which some patients develop severe pneumonia. "In these cases, patients must be admitted to a hospital as quickly as possible. The sooner they receive good medical treatment, the better the prognosis," explains Prof. Georg Schmidt, the head of the Biosignal Analysis Working Group at TUM’s university hospital Klinikum rechts der Isar.

Prof. Schmidt and his team now want to assess whether a high-tech solution – specifically, an in-ear wearable sensor – can speed up the detection of worsening symptoms in COVID-19 patients. They also hope that prompt treatment will ease the workload of intensive care units by eliminating the need for intensive treatment, including mechanical ventilation, in some cases.

Covid-19 Research news paul.hellmich@tum.de news-35980 Tue, 21 Apr 2020 13:00:00 +0200
Large Antibody Study at the Klinikum rechts der Isar https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35987/ The new antibody study examines blood samples taken from employees at the Klinikum rechts der Isar at TUM and associated scientific institutes at TUM. Approximately 7,000 employees can voluntarily participate in the prospective cohort study.

The objective of the study is to determine the specific antibody status for SARS-CoV-2 and its stability over two years. A questionnaire will be used to ascertain the infection risks which the employees of the hospital have been exposed to, both at COVID-19 wards and normal wards or in other areas, such as logistics or administration. The results of the study will provide important information on employee protection and will make it possible to optimize the extensive protective measures for patients and staff in German hospitals.

Covid-19 Research news news-35987 Tue, 21 Apr 2020 10:51:13 +0200
Nasal smear as an allergy screening test https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35983/ Stuffy noses, itching and fits of sneezing – 130 million people in Europe suffer from hay fever and other forms of allergic rhinitis. Until now, these conditions have typically been diagnosed using blood samples or skin prick tests. The latter method is often seen as particularly uncomfortable because the skin is exposed to various allergens and punctured with a fine needle. Many patients – especially children – even find the blood test quite unpleasant. 

Research news lisa.pietrzyk@tum.de news-35982 Fri, 17 Apr 2020 10:53:00 +0200
What you need to know at the start of summer semester https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35985/ Despite these critical last weeks – thanks to all your dedicated support – we are ready to pick up where we left off and commence a largely regular semester, albeit under extraordinary circumstances and with full use of online instruction and digital communication formats.

Our top priority must remain to do everything in our power to prevent the spread of the virus as far as possible by limiting contact and implementing hygiene measures. At the same time, we must ensure that our university remains fully functional in teaching, research and administration in the coming weeks and months. To this end, I would like to provide you with the following, more detailed information.

Covid-19 Campus news news-35984 Fri, 17 Apr 2020 12:26:15 +0200
“Short-term decisions can have a long-term impact on our world” https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35981/ Prof. Lütge, you have teamed up with researchers at such institutions as the University of Tokyo, New York University and the University of Cambridge to found an Artificial Intelligence Ethics Consortium. Why?

Countless AI and Big Data research projects are springing up all over the world. These projects have the potential to influence political decisions and could shape the healthcare systems of the future. We see a danger of short-term decisions being made amid the urgency of the current crisis having a long-term impact on our world. In many cases, ethical questions arising with the use of new technologies have not even been recognized – let alone answered.

Could you give us an example?

One issue relates to questions of privacy and data protection in software intended to track the spread of epidemics. Such software is already in use in various countries and is currently being developed for the EU as well.

What is the goal of the Global AI Ethics Consortium?

We need ethical standards as a basis for the political decisions on artificial intelligence and the related software development. These standards cannot stand in the way of innovation or the fight against epidemics, but must block negative effects of AI right from the start.

What exactly will you be doing in the coming months?

The consortium will make its expertise available to other research teams and will also launch its own projects. At the Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence at TUM, for example, we will collect proposals in May for new interdisciplinary research projects related to the covid-19 pandemic and provide up to one year of funding for the best ones. Because sharing ideas is crucial to success, we will of course ensure that the project teams are networked with the other members of the consortium. In addition, we will create a repository for all research results on ethics in artificial intelligence in the context of the covid-19 crisis and make it accessible.

Covid-19 Research news paul.hellmich@tum.de news-35981 Thu, 16 Apr 2020 13:22:57 +0200
Preserving inflammation-free phases https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35979/ Intestinal stem cell metabolism is facilitated by mitochondria – the in-cell power plants. Chronic inflammation processes inhibit the cells’ metabolism and lead to functional loss of these stem cells.

In collaboration with the Helmholz Zentrum München and the Université de Paris, a TUM research team has discovered this connection by analyzing intestinal epithelial cells of Crohn’s disease patients and comparing them to mouse model findings.

Research news katharina.baumeister@tum.de news-35978 Wed, 15 Apr 2020 09:20:00 +0200
Making music together as a sign of solidarity https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35976/ Covid-19 Campus news news-35975 Tue, 14 Apr 2020 11:19:12 +0200 Prof. Ann-Kristin Achleitner named to Economic Advisory Council on the coronavirus crisis https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35972/ Alongside Ann-Kristin Achleitner, the five-member committee will include Prof. Clemens Fuest, the president of the Ifo Institute, and Oliver Bäte, Oliver Zipse and Joe Kaeser, the CEOs of Allianz, BMW and Siemens, respectively.

Prof. Achleitner's research focuses on the financing of innovations, venture capital, private equity, family businesses and social entrepreneurship. She has extensive experience as a political advisor and is a member of the Executive Committee of the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech).

The economist is the second TUM professor to be appointed to the state government's advisory team on the coronavirus pandemic: Prof. Ulrike Protzer, the director of the Institute for Virology, is a member of the committee addressing medical issues.

Covid-19 Campus news klaus.becker@tum.de news-35972 Thu, 09 Apr 2020 16:25:04 +0200
A new lightsource for the chip industry https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35970/ Electronic chips produce heat when processing data. The laptop starts to feel uncomfortably hot on the user's knees; data centers need energy-hungry cooling equipment. The solution may lie in the field of photonics – because light pulses do not emit heat.

For the past half century, this insight has driven efforts by researchers to build silicon or germanium-based lasers – so far in vain. Silicon, the workhorse of the chip industry, normally crystallizes in a cubic crystal lattice. In this form it is not suitable for converting electrons into light.

Together with colleagues from the Technical University of Munich and the universities in Jena and Linz, researchers at the Technical University of Eindhoven have now developed alloys made of germanium and silicon capable of emitting light.

The crucial step was the ability to produce germanium and alloys from germanium and silicon with a hexagonal crystal lattice. “This material has a direct band gap, and can therefore emit light itself,” says Prof. Jonathan Finley, Professor of Semiconductor Quantum Nanosystems at TUM.

Research news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-35969 Wed, 08 Apr 2020 17:00:00 +0200