Biofunctionality and functionalization are essential research tasks of medical implant development in the various fields of application. This optimization of the cell-specific implant surface and the inseparable function of the implant is of fundamental importance in all of the organ systems brought together in NIFE.
The subfield of Bio-Functionality and Functionalization of NIFE is represented by the Institute for AudioNeuroTechnology (www.vianna.de) . Hearing research and neuroscience are the main focus of research. The research is translationally oriented without neglecting basic research as the basis of tomorrow's developments. Many questions come from the clinic and in many cases the results find their way back into the clinic or into products of cooperating companies.
Physical questions, e.g. in the field of middle ear mechanics, are addressed as well as questions of cell-material interaction in in vitro studies or neurophysiological correlations in in vivo projects. We investigate new stimulation strategies for sensory prostheses as well as central neuronal adaptations to chronic use of prostheses. Studies on human rock bones with prototypes of cochlear or middle ear implants as well as measurements on volunteers are performed in other areas. Experimental studies are also taking place in the area of "Central auditory prostheses - neuroprostheses". EEG measurements to understand the different processing of acoustic signals by hearing-impaired and normal-hearing persons serve as a basis for optimizing the provision of hearing aids, or the optimization of hearing aids at both the hardware and software levels.
The development of new materials, or new approaches to processing materials, also complements these approaches, as does work on computer- and robot-assisted surgery. New methods of stimulation such as pulsed laser light stimulation or optogenetic approaches are also being investigated.
VIANNA in NIFE consists of 12 working groups. Each WG presents itself online in a separate section here (www.vianna.de). Individual working groups are also assigned to other subareas, which shows the good networking within NIFE. Of course, the participating working groups and the laboratories cannot be seen in isolation. All working group leaders and other employees are in constant exchange and multidisciplinary work is part of everyday life. The research team consists of natural scientists, engineers, veterinarians and human doctors.
Cooperations with companies, clinics and institutes outside and within the MHH as well as the German Hearing Center Hannover (DHZ, www.dhz.clinic/en) are the core of the successful translational research of VIANNA in NIFE. A partner in translational research is linked to NIFE by a bridge professorship: at Fraunhofer ITEM there is now a research focus on translational medical technology (www.item.fraunhofer.de/en/r-d-expertise/medical-and-pharmaceutical-engineering.html). Clinical studies are conducted by the clinics represented in VIANNA (www.mhh.de/en/ent/page, https://www.mhh.de/en/clinical-departments-and-specialist-centres/department-of-neurosurgery, https://www.mh-hannover.de/neurologie.html). Partners such as the Clinical Research Center Hannover (www.item.fraunhofer.de/en/crc-hannover/partner-crc-hannover.html) support this step of the translation, if applicable.