Talents apply for a position at Helmholtz Pioneer Campus

Twelve young technology and innovation-oriented scientists presented their research approaches. © Helmholtz Zentrum München

The Pioneer Campus at Helmholtz Zentrum München was launched about one year ago and the first teams have already started their research. As part of a second recruitment round, the Symposium ‘Engineering Biomedical Breakthroughs Enabled by Computer Sciences’ was held on November 15.

Twelve young technology and innovation-oriented scientists presented their research approaches and thereby applied for a team leader position at the Helmholtz Pioneer Campus (HPC). As in the previous year, all the applicants had published noteworthy papers or were recipients of prestigious awards or grants. They all came from world-leading institutions such as Caltech, Harvard, Stanford, Max Planck institutes or the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI).

The presentations conveyed a broad overview of the latest, state-of-the-art techniques in biomedical imaging, quantum physics and bioengineering with a view to improving the understanding of biological systems or therapeutically influencing them. Moreover, bioinformatics and its digital applications to intelligently link experimental and clinical data played a key role. Among the speakers there was also an old acquaintance: Dr. Laleh Haghverdi (formerly Helmholtz Zentrum München, now at EMBL-EBI in Cambridge). In 2017, she and her former colleagues won the Erwin-Schrödinger-Prize.

“We are proud of the fact that the still very young idea of the Helmholtz Pioneer Campus is attracting such high-caliber scientists from renowned research institutes,” says Dr. Thomas Schwarz-Romond, Director of Operations at the HPC. “This response shows that we are on the right track and is a key benchmark and a motivation to unwaveringly adhere to the innovation and internationalization course we have set. It is now on us to identify the right candidates for our technology-driven portfolio and to bring them to Munich soon.” Up to four team leaders might be recruited next year.

Although the recruiting symposium was primarily a competitive format, the organizers managed to create a constructive atmosphere and shine the spotlight on science. “Besides the competition, this type of event also allows to establish networks for the future, which makes it mutually beneficial for all participants”, says Professor Matthias H. Tschöp, CEO of Helmholtz Zentrum München and biomedical director of the HPC. “Given this inspiring atmosphere and the enormous scientific quality of the talks, this symposium created an added value for all the participants and the center as a whole.”

Also the scientific focus of the HPC starts to crystallize more strongly. All activities revolve around a healthier society: new technologies should help to meet patients’ medical needs faster and more sustainably. In particular, the HPC relies on advanced dynamic measurement methods to explore physiological systems, as well as on the evaluation and integration of the collected data with the help of cutting-edge IT tools.

“These three pillars and their interaction will not only improve our understanding of biological processes but will accelerate the identification of novel therapies,” explains Professor Vasilis Ntziachristos, HPC Director of Bioengineering. “With the help of our multidisciplinary approach, we hope for a shift from a ‘discovery’ and information building culture to a tool-making and ‘solutions’ culture.”

Some participants of the symposium might soon join this journey: After the initial meeting with the applicants during the symposium, discussions will follow with the candidates who are most in tune with the vision of the HPC. Another milestone which is planned for 2019 will be the laying of the cornerstone of HPC research building on the Neuherberg Campus in the immediate vicinity of the new HDC. Here, the scientists will chase their ideas together under one roof.