Minister Wanka and Minister President Weil open implant research center NIFE

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Wanka: Major project of the three Hanoverian universities unique in Germany - Federal Government and State of Lower Saxony bear lion's share of 60 million euros costs - Professors Bitter-Suermann and Welling awarded honorary doctorates
(From left) Professor Dr. Christopher Baum, Dr. Gerhard Greif, Professor Dr. Volker Epping, Mayor Thomas Hermann, Stephan Weil, Professor Dr. Johanna Wanka and Dr. Manfred Elff

Newly opened: The Lower Saxony Center for Biomedical Engineering, Implant Research and Development (NIFE) is a major joint biomedical engineering project of the three Hanover universities, which offers researchers and developers from all scientific fields an excellently equipped laboratory environment in the new building: The implants of tomorrow are to be developed here.

The Federal Minister of Education and Research, Johanna Wanka, highlighted the outstanding expertise of the Hannover site at the opening of NIFE on Thursday, May 26, 2016. "The Lower Saxony Center for Biomedical Engineering, Implant Research and Development, or NIFE for short, exemplifies the high innovative power of biomedical engineering research in Germany. With its focus on medical technology innovations at the interface between medicine, biology and engineering, it will contribute energetically to improving medical care," she said. "NIFE is unique throughout Germany."

Weil: National and international lighthouse project

Lower Saxony's Minister President Stephan Weil emphasized the international importance of the state capital Hannover as one of the leading locations for biomedical research and development. With the Biomedical Engineering Center, he said, the state government is following the research policy agenda of 2015 to focus funding in Lower Saxony on the major challenges in order to expand research strengths in future fields. He expects NIFE to be perceived in the future as a national and international beacon of biomedical engineering and implant research.

Weil said that the center should succeed in dovetailing basic research and potential clinical applications in the best possible way. This will also enable improved clinical care. The state thus supports the entire research from the development of new implants to their clinical application. Weil emphasized the corporate cooperations with NIFE, which would also give the location further impetus in economic terms.

280 scientists conduct research on 7,000 square meters

The construction and initial equipping of the new research center cost around 60 million euros, of which 53.8 million euros are financed in equal parts by the state of Lower Saxony and the federal government, and a further 6.5 million euros are financed by the Braukmann-Wittenberg Foundation for the cardiovascular area. The new building is located in the Medical Park on Stadtfelddamm, not far from the MHH. In a laboratory area of 7,000 square meters, around 280 researchers from Hannover Medical School (MHH), Leibniz Universität Hannover and the Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover will develop innovative implants and strategies in the fight against implant-associated infections.

"New avenues of implant technology are being explored here"

"Here in Hannover, an implant research center has been created that is unique in size and focus and will thus radiate far beyond Hannover's or Lower Saxony's borders. At the same time, the scientists involved guarantee, through their proven research excellence, for example in the REBIRTH and Hearing4all clusters of excellence, that new avenues of implant technology can be opened up for industry cooperation and, even more importantly, subsequently also in patient treatment," emphasized NIFE board spokesman Dr. Manfred Elff.

On behalf of the state capital Hannover, Mayor Thomas Hermann highlighted the close cooperation between no less than three Hannover universities. "Hannover has top achievements to offer in many scientific fields and especially in biomedicine, which are now being brought together in a unique way. With the new NIFE center in the Medical Park, Hannover as a location for science and medicine is getting a new highlight, not least thanks to funding from the federal and state governments."

Universities bundle their research competencies

The collaborative partners are pooling their research expertise in the new building. The MHH is contributing its research focus in the fields of biomedical engineering, regenerative medicine and immunology/infectiology. MHH President Professor Dr. Christopher Baum emphasizes the great importance of interdisciplinarity: "The MHH stands for quality and innovation. Implant research requires particularly extensive interdisciplinary cooperation. Therefore, the integration of NIFE into our campus creates excellent conditions for excellent science for the benefit of patients."

Leibniz Universität Hannover contributes its expertise in the fields of engineering and materials science. Professor Dr. Volker Epping, President of Leibniz Universität Hannover, praises the excellent cooperation between the universities at the Hannover site: "Biomedical engineering is assigned the status of a key technology, with an increasing demand for analytical, diagnostic, manufacturing and process engineering instruments due to the steadily growing market.

In order to meet the requirements of this promising market, cooperative collaboration across the disciplines is essential to solve the interdisciplinary tasks. In particular, the mechanical engineering department at Leibniz University and parts of the natural sciences contribute the necessary expertise from these areas to the network."

In addition, there are the biological test models of the Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover. "In cell culture and with animal models, our scientists test new procedures. Developments in human medicine often also benefit patients in veterinary medicine in the long term. Innovative implants in particular can improve our patients' treatment options," adds Dr. Gerhard Greif, President of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover Foundation.

Professors Bitter-Suermann and Welling awarded honorary doctorates

During the opening ceremony, Professors Dieter Bitter-Suermann and Herbert Welling were awarded honorary doctorates. Former MHH President Professor Dr. Bitter-Suermann received an honorary doctorate from Leibniz Universität Hannover for his services in building bridges between the natural sciences and medicine. Together with the then president of Leibniz University, Professor Dr. Erich Barke, he is considered one of the founding fathers of NIFE, who started the project of the joint research center eight years ago.

Professor Dr. Herbert Welling received an honorary doctorate from the MHH. The physicist had established laser research at the University of Hannover in 1970 and co-founded the Laser Zentrum Hannover in 1986.

Source: Press and Public Relations MHH, Photos: Kaiser