Prestigious fellowship for Merle Weitzenberg at HPC and IMC

Merle Weitzenberg receives a prestigious fellowship of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes) to pursue her doctoral studies. She is working on the development of a meningioma-specific probe for fluorescence-guided surgery in an interdisciplinary consortium across Munich, Hannover and Cologne.


As a medicinal chemist, Merle works at the interface of the Next-Generation in vivo Imaging Group of Oliver Bruns at the Helmholtz Pioneer Campus (Helmholtz Munich) and Oliver Plettenburg´s Institute of Medicinal Chemistry (Helmholtz Munich & Leibniz University Hanover).  Within her ambitous project, she focuses on the development of a meningioma-specific contrast agent for fluorescence-assisted tumor resection. Meningioma are the most common primary tumors of the central nervous system. Treatment consists primarily of neurosurgical resection, with completeness of resection significantly determining prognosis. Merle is synthesizing fluorescent probes in the Organic Chemistry labs in Hanover and together with Gina Fürtjes performs in vitro and in vivo characterization of the probes in the Optical Imaging labs in Munich. The clinical translation of the optimized probe will subsequently be performed by Gina Fürtjes and Volker Neuschmelting, who are physicians in Neurosurgery of University Hospital Cologne. The goal of this cooperation is to develop a high-performance optical probe that can be used intraoperatively for fluorescence-guided surgery, to ultimately ensure complete resection of most – if not all – clinically presented meningioma.

‘‘We are all pleased and delighted that the German Academic Scholarship Foundation recognizes Merle’s outstanding talent. The fellowship will further accelerate her personal development and our joined efforts to develop novel and practical solutions for the benefit of patients’
states Oliver Bruns, Principal Investigator at the Pioneer Campus on behalf of the entire research team.

The Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes – German Academic Scholarship Foundation –is Germany's largest, oldest and most prestigious scholarship foundation. It awards scholarships to outstanding students, irrespective of their political, ideological or religious convictions and affiliations. In line with its statutes, it supports "the university education of young people who, on account of their exceptional academic or artistic talents and their personalities, can be expected to make an outstanding contribution to society as a whole".
The Helmholtz Pi­o­neer Cam­pus is an innovation campus with a startup culture at the Helmholtz Zentrum München. HPC stands for the intelligent fusion of biomedical sciences, engineering and digitization. Teams of top scientific talents from all over the world work together on the development of novel solutions that make a difference in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases. HPC aspires the values of Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894), a physician and physicist, polymath and science pioneer.