University of Tübingen: Quantum optics refines medical diagnosis

As in previous years, Dr. In 2020, the KH Eberle Foundation will again award the research prize endowed with 250,000 euros for innovative projects at the University of Tübingen. In 2020 the award went to the interdisciplinary project “Microscopy of Metabolism”: The biochemists Dr. Sabrina Hoffmann and Dr. André F. Martins (Werner Siemens Imaging Center) are planning together with physicists Dr. Lőrinc Sárkány and Professor József Fortágh (Center for Quantum Science) developed an innovative microscopy method with which even the smallest changes in tissue metabolism can be mapped locally and in real time. The method could thus become part of preclinical imaging as a new diagnostic procedure.

“The project convinced us. If this diagnostic procedure works, we would have another beacon to make progress in the field of personalized medicine, ”says the CEO of Dr. Eberle Foundation, Thomas Schwind. The handover to the award winners could not yet take place in a festive setting due to the pandemic, but should be made up for as soon as the infection situation allows.

In addition, the Dr. Eberle Center for Digital Competencies in 2020 for the first time a funding format for the development of digital and freely available teaching and learning materials, so-called Open Educational Resources (OER). Five of the submitted project ideas will each receive up to 10,000 euros. The Dr. KH Eberle Foundation support projects that try out new digital formats in university teaching and develop teaching and learning materials to supplement classroom teaching.

The foundation not only awards prizes, but also attaches great importance to permanent institutional funding, emphasized the board members Dr. Alexandra Zoller and Dr. Georg von Schönau. “The Center for Digital Skills is intended to provide students and professors with an important building block for further developing digital skills at the university. A correct decision, even against the background of the pandemic, ”underlined the two board members.

Research Award: Follow the metabolism in real time
The metabolism of a tissue is characteristic of its state of health and is therefore ideally suited for medical diagnostics. Disease-related changes in the body’s metabolism can be detected using the modern imaging methods positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance tomography (MRT). However, these methods are limited in terms of sensitivity, resolution and tracking of endogenous metabolic dynamics – the award winners therefore see an urgent need for new methods that enable continuous real-time diagnosis.

In quantum optics, the microscopic detection of individual atoms and molecules based on their optical properties, vibration and rotation spectra and their observation in real time is standard. On this basis, quantum and sensor technologies are currently being developed, which are now also to be used in medical diagnostics with this interdisciplinary project. By combining fiber optic laser techniques and modern spectroscopic methods, a microscopy method is to be developed that can overcome previous diagnostic limitations with minimal intervention and combined with the imaging methods PET / MRT and create a holistic, dynamic picture of the metabolism.

OER funding: These programs make learning online fun
With the new funding format “digital teaching and learning materials”, the Dr. Eberle Center for Digital Competencies at the University of Tübingen to submit concepts for online formats – from individual modules to multimedia-based courses. These should be usable in courses and be available nationally and internationally as “Open Educational Resources (OER)”. This is made possible by the online service “Open Educational Resources of the Universities in Baden-Württemberg”, which the University Library of Tübingen provides as part of the university network “Digitization of Teaching”. ( https://www.oerbw.de/ )

The center was run by the Dr. KH Eberle Foundation has been financed with 600,000 euros so far and will continue to be funded. As a teaching and learning center, it trains students and young academics to use digital media in research and studies. This year the OER prizes go to the following project ideas:

In the project “Computational Thinking as the Cognitive Basis of Programming” , Katerina Tsarava from the Hector Institute for Empirical Educational Research (HIB) is developing a teaching module for prospective teachers in the field of computer science. Schoolchildren from the fifth grade can be introduced to the basics of programming in a playful way. The project is the result of a collaboration between HIB (Prof. Ulrich Trautwein) and the Department of Computer Science (Prof. Klaus Ostermann). It is based on a module for primary schools, developed by Katerina Tsarava, Dr. Manuel Ninaus (Leibniz Institute for Knowledge Media) and Prof. Korbinian Moeller (Loughborough University).

In the “MuseumVirtuell” project , Stefan Krmnicek, junior professor for ancient numismatics at the Institute for Classical Archeology, is developing a module that trains students of art and cultural science subjects in the use of “virtual reality” in museums. In a seminar, they learn how to design a virtual exhibition on the Internet from digitized museum objects and put it into practice.

With the project “Geo-dig online – practical learning elements in geoinformatics courses” , Dr. Andreas Braun and Dr. Hans-Joachim Rosner from the chair “Physical Geography and Geoinformatics” Course content of geoinformatics through application-related learning and examination content. The Geographical Institute already provides students with competencies in cartography, statistics, spatial data analysis and the evaluation of satellite images. Now these modules will be expanded with practical digital tasks and guided exercises (e.g. through videos) on topics of geo-visualization, the use of programming languages or cloud computing.

PD Dr. Sebastian Bücking and Edith Scheifele, MA, from the German Seminar / Collaborative Research Center 833 are designing a teaching-learning module “Natural and formal languages” that introduces the relationship between natural and formal languages. Formal languages are used in linguistics to describe natural languages such as German or English and to explain how they work. They are also used as programming languages (e.g. R, Latex). The module aims to enable students to understand and learn formal languages and make them useful for theoretical and practical work with natural languages. (Homepage: https://bit.ly/3eQpStu)

In the teaching program “Embryology Learning Games” , PD Dr. Ingmar Werneburg has prepared rare historical embryo drawings from the paleontological collection of the university. To understand family tree research, he developed – together with Swiss colleagues – an interactive online program for students. With the OER funding, this is to be further expanded and made accessible to a broad public. (Program: www.msanchezlab.net/phylotool/tool/ ).

The Dr. KH Eberle Foundation, based in Lörrach, Baden-Württemberg, was made from the assets of the entrepreneur Dr. Karl Helmut Eberle and is involved in research and innovation funding in Tübingen and other universities. Eberle, who died in November 2015 at the age of 88, studied medicine at the University of Tübingen and then worked successfully in the real estate industry. https://dreberlestiftung.de/

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