Bernhard Baumann, research group leader at the Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at MedUni Vienna, receives a highly endowed proof-of-concept grant from the European Research Council. In the OPTIMEYEZ project, the physicist will continue his research on optical coherence tomography, which he started in 2015 with an ERC Starting Grant (OPTIMALZ project).
As part of the ERC Starting Grant OPTIMALZ, Bernhard Baumann's team at the Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering (ZMPBMT) at MedUni Vienna developed a novel platform for optical multi-contrast imaging in the eye. Based on high-speed optical coherence tomography (OCT) technology, the prototype provides high-resolution 3D images of the retina within a few seconds. By measuring the scattered light, various optical contrast mechanisms allow the identification of different tissue lesions and the visualization of microvascular networks without the need for a contrast agent. In OPTIMALZ, the potential of this novel technology was successfully demonstrated in models of primary retinal degeneration and Alzheimer's disease.
The OPTIMEYEZ proof-of-concept project now aims to expand the imaging portfolio to include additional disease applications, improve technological aspects and make the imaging platform accessible to industrial partners.
The work on OPTIMEYEZ is being carried out by Bernhard Baumann's team at the ZMPBMT in collaboration with the Department of Clinical Pharmacology, the Division of Neuropathology and Neurochemistry at the Department for Neurology, the Center for Biomedical Research, the Technology Transfer Office of MedUni Vienna and the Core Facility for Research and Technology at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna.
The European Research Council (ERC), established by the European Union in 2007, is the most important European funding institution for excellent pioneering research. The ERC offers four main funding programs: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants, Advanced Grants and Synergy Grants. The total ERC budget from 2021 to 2027 is over 16 billion euros under the Horizon Europe program.
The proof-of-concept grants are additional funding within the framework of Horizon Europe. The funding of 150,000 euros each should be used to explore the commercial or social potential of their pioneering research projects. The selected projects cover a variety of different areas and issues, such as: Such as a more efficient way to produce cells used in immunotherapies to fight cancer, new technologies to reduce energy consumption, and a faster way for companies to change the ingredients in everyday consumer products to make them more environmentally friendly. The Proof of Concept (PoC) scholarship competition is only open to ERC scholarship holders.
About the person
Bernhard Baumann was born in Vienna in 1981. After studying physics at the University of Vienna, he completed his dissertation at the Medical University of Vienna under OCT pioneer Christoph K. Hitzenberger. After completing his PhD in the “Medical Physics” program, Baumann worked for two years as a postdoc at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. After returning to Vienna, he took up a position as an assistant professor at the Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering (head: Wolfgang Drexler) in 2013 and has been working there as an associate professor since 2016. He is a lecturer in the human medicine diploma program and in the PhD program as well as principal investigator of several research projects. In 2015 he received a starting grant from the European Research Council (ERC) to set up a research group as part of the OPTIMALZ project.