"CeMOS - Centre for Biomedical Mass Spectrometry and Optical Spectroscopy" - this is the title of the new Centre of Excellence at Mannheim University of Applied Sciences, which will be launched on January 1, 2018. CeMOS, which brings together the activities of two research groups, will strengthen the links between the university's research priorities "Medical Biotechnology/Medical Engineering" and "Smart Sensors". The merging research groups, headed by Prof. Dr. Carsten Hopf and Prof. Dr. Matthias Rädle, want to establish a structure on par with successful university institutes in order to, inter alia, be more competitive in international tenders. "The aim is to generate synergies in the field of biomedical mass spectrometry and optical device development in order to create new incentives for application-oriented projects with industrial cooperation partners and thus help to reposition the entire university," explains Prof. Hopf, head of the centre. The two research groups have the highest research output at Mannheim University of Applied Sciences and have been attracting more than €2.5 million in third-party funding annually for many years.
The orientation with the new Centre of Excellence is a reaction to the rapid technological development and increasing digital transformation in this research area. Today, biomedical mass spectrometry is an indispensable tool in biomedical and pharmaceutical research as well as in industrial and clinical analytics. With the help of mass spectrometric imaging, so-called MALDI imaging, the molecular composition of tissue samples can be analysed in conjunction with the morphological context. For CeMOS, biomedical mass spectrometry enables the search for new disease-specific biomarkers and metabolic components of the metabolism or the detection of pharmaceuticals, their metabolites and drug effects. New research opportunities are opening up due to the broad range of research activities in the field of optical instrument development, which is rooted in the development of optical, spectroscopic measuring instruments as well as image and signal analysis. The research and development efforts in the field of optical sensor technology, which have so far been strongly geared towards medium-sized partners from the local region and throughout Germany, are now branching out into a new field of application thanks to the link with mass spectrometry.
Spectrometer developments in the field of Raman, fluorescence, UV/VIS and infrared, as well as applications of multispectral imaging, which are often oriented towards production processes, are increasingly directed towards the scientific world as well. The activities of the multidisciplinary team cover fields of application ranging from biotechnology and medical technology to the chemical-pharmaceutical sector and diagnostics to particle and aerosol measurement technology as well as direct process monitoring of chemical and pharmaceutical production. In addition to the existing equipment infrastructure of the research groups, CeMOS will use the BMBF- and DFG-funded equipment park of the Bruker Rhine-Neckar Centre, which was opened at the university in October 2015, for MS Fingerprinting and Imaging.
"We expect CeMOS to have a major impact on the research and manufacturing industry, with positive effects on employment for the region. Prof. Rädle, head of the Institute for Process Measurement Technology and Innovative Energy Systems, explains: "The centre, which generates annual third-party funding of three million euros at the university and a further five million euros from external partners, will have 60 employees working on an area of 3,000 square metres. As a Centre of Excellence, CeMOS has already established a unique network with Mannheim University Hospital and around one hundred industrial partners and associations such as the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region, the Mannheim City Economic Development Agency and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. "We want to use this to create new application possibilities for various product development strategies together with companies," Prof. Hopf continued.
In addition to the cooperation with industrial partners, CeMOS' association with the Institute of Medical Technology, a cross-university scientific institution of the University of Heidelberg and the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences, provides the option of doctoral studies. This enables around half of CeMOS employees to carry out interdisciplinary research on the frontiers of medicine, biotechnology and technology for their doctorate. This applied research primarily addresses solutions in the areas of digital transformation, big data and industry 4.0.
The cornerstone for the cooperation between the two groups was laid in 2011 by the “Centre for Applied Research at Universities of Applied Sciences - Applied Biomedical Mass Spectrometry (ZAFH-ABIMAS)” and Partnership in Innovation “M2Aind - Multimodal Analytics and Intelligent Sensorics for the Healthcare Industry” and it was expanded by the “Research Campus Mannheim Molecular Intervention Environment (M2OLIE)”. In the future, CeMOS will perpetuate this successful partnership in order to promote the acquisition of relevant expertise that is oriented towards the requirements of industry.