Consortium Partner

Fraunhofer-Institut für Biomedizinische Technik (IBMT)

Operating in the international growth markets for life sciences and medicine/medical engineering, since its foundation in 1987/1992 the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBMT) has worked primarily as a technology developer and device manufacturer for customers from all over the world. As a founding member of the Life Sciences Group of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, which now comprises six institutes and one research establishment, the Fraunhofer IBMT cooperates closely with its industrial customers as well as public and private customers. The IBMT‘s strategy is focused on the areas of biomedical/medical engineering (especially non-invasive and minimally invasive as well as miniaturized technologies), biotechnology, implants, cryotechnology, biobanks and stem cell research. Trend-setting automated laboratory technologies, the development of mobile special laboratories (S3, GMP, GCLP, etc.) and information technologies for healthcare solutions round off the portfolio of the Fraunhofer IBMT. Decades of expertise in biotechnological and medical research and development fields also allows us to solve a variety of purely technical tasks. This includes ultrasound-based level metering, special transducers for acoustic applications, but also microelectrodes and miniaturized manipulation systems as well as automated in vitro culture devices.

With a good balance between basic and applied research, the institute promotes the ”lived“ technology transfer in medicine and biotechnology, laboratory technology, food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries and environmental technology as well as in other areas of industry and knowledge-intensive services. For many years, the Fraunhofer IBMT has been working in the field of stem cell research and is still the only institute of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft to obtain licences (No. 18, 19 and 44) of the Robert-Koch-Institut to import and use human embryonic stem cells for scientific purposes. In recent years this has been extended to the production and characterization/expansion of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The institute is involved as part of a major European project in building an international iPS cell bank (EBISc).

Key staff involved

Prof. Dr. Heiko Zimmermann (Director and Head of Fraunhofer IBMT and Chair in Molecular & Cellular Biotechnology at the Saarland University) – has been working as physicist since 1997 in the field of cell biophysics. He is coordinator of DropTech® and has previously coordinated the EU-project HYPERLAB in FP7 which results are being used and further developed within DropTech®. Additionally, he is WP leader within the IMI project EBiSC, responsible for bioengineering and automation. Heiko Zimmermann received the first permission for working with hESCs within the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. He is author of more than 70 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters. His research expertise covers cryobiology, cryotechnology and biopolymers for clinical scaffolds. Heiko Zimmermann is inventor of more than 50 granted patent families from which more than 20 have been commercially licensed.

Dr. Julia Neubauer (Head of Department) – is biologist and has been working since 2008 in the field of expansion and cryopreservation of adult and embryonic stem cells. She is Head of Department ”Medical Biotechnology“ leading cell biological and imaging teams. She reports directly to Heiko Zimmermann and is first deputy of Heiko Zimmermann in all EU projects. Julia Neubauer is PI of several national stem cell projects and is author of 12 publications and one book chapter focused on cryopreservation of therapeutic relevant cells and automation of stem cell screenings. She is inventor of several international patent applications. Since 2013, Julia Neubauer is the first and only IBMT member of the elite emerging talent program of the Fraunhofer Society (status: advanced).

Dr. Luca Gentile (Group Manager) – studied developmental biology and embryology at the University of Pavia, Italy. In 2003 he finished his PhD in bioengineering and bioinformatics and worked on the somatic cell nuclear transfer as a postdoctoral research fellow in Pavia. In 2004 he joined the Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Muenster, Germany, examining reprogramming of terminally differentiated cells into a pluripotent state and managing the interdepartmental qPCR facility. From 2011 on his primary focus as head of laboratory at the MPI Muenster was how adulthood copes with pluripotency using the planarian model system. Since 2015 he is group manager at Fraunhofer IBMT in St. Ingbert, Germany, working on the control of pluripotency using different model systems (human and mouse cells, planarians).

Dr. Frank Stracke (Group Manager) – finished his diploma degree in chemistry at the University of Siegen, Germany. In his PhD-thesis he focused on single molecule microscopy and spectroscopy. He worked at the Fraunhofer IBMT as a postdoc in laser medicine from 2004 on. Subsequently he launched a research group on biomedical optics in 2007 dealing with optical sensing, spectroscopy and scanning microscopy in biotechnology and biobanking.

Dr. Ina Meiser – finished her bachelor´s degree in bioinformatics at the University of Saarland, Germany, in 2005. After her master´s degree in biotechnology at the University of Saarland in 2007, she finished her PhD at Fraunhofer IBMT in St. Ingbert, Germany, in 2014 working on ultra-fast freezing procedures for human stem cells and manipulation of stem cells using microfluidic devices. Since then, she is working as scientist at Fraunhofer IBMT, Department “Medical Biotechnology”, on the development of serum-free and efficient cryopreservation protocols for iPSCs, on the evaluation and adaptation of cultivation methods for iPSC cultures in automated systems and on 3D cell cultivation. Ina Meiser is author of 5 publications.

Isabelle Sébastien (M. of Sc. Biotechnology) – did her Diplôme Universitaire de Technologie at the University Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France. In 2006, she finished her engineering studies at the University of Applied Sciences Münster in Steinfurt, Germany. After her master´s degree in biotechnology at the University of Saarland in 2008, she worked as bio-engineer at the Helmholtz Centre Geesthacht for three years. Since 2012, she is research associate at Fraunhofer IBMT, Department “Medical Biotechnology”, working on the adaptation of iPS cultivation protocols to liquid handling robots and on the validation of automated biobanking systems.

Katharina Schmidt (M. of Sc.) – studied the interdisciplinary course of study “Applied Life Sciences” at the University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern in Zweibruecken, Germany. During her studies she gained experience at the University Medical Center of Saarland in Homburg/Saar, Germany, where she mainly worked in the cell culture area. She absolved her bachelor thesis at the University of Technology in Darmstadt, Germany, in 2011 where she had insight in electrophysiologically measurements. She finished her studies with her master thesis at the Fraunhofer IBMT in St.Ingbert, Germany, in 2014, where she worked with hydrogels and the cultivation of human stem cells. Since April 2014 she is working as research associate at Fraunhofer IBMT, Department “Medical Biotechnology”, in the field of functionalisation of hydrogels and automated expansion of human stem cells in bioreactor systems.

Dr. Michael Schäfer – studied Human and Molecular Biology at the University of the Saarland, Germany. In 2012, he finished his PhD at the Johannes-Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, focusing on the establishment of automated high-throughput platforms for molecular biological applications used for cancer immunotherapy development. From 2013 on, he continued his work in the cancer immunotherapy field in the BioNTech Group in Mainz and was, since 2014 as head of automation, responsible for the conceptual design and establishment of laboratory automation solutions for molecular biological and cell-based processes. Since the end of 2014, he is working as scientist at Fraunhofer IBMT, Department “Medical Biotechnology”, on the automatisation of cell culture processes and cell-based assays and is responsible for the operation of the automated cryopreservation and cryostorage systems.

Prof. Dr. Heiko Zimmermann

Dr. Julia Neubauer

Dr. Luca Gentile

Dr. Frank Stracke

Dr. Ina Meiser

Isabelle Sébastien

Katharina Schmidt

Dr. Michael Schäfer