Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2022

Unique measurement technology − 3D-based position control in radiotherapy

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Winners of the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize for their 3D-based position control technology for radiotherapy: Dr. Peter Kühmstedt, Dr. Christoph Munkelt and Matthias Heinze (from left to right)

©  Photo: Fraunhofer / Piotr Banczerowski

Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2022 winners:

Dr. Peter Kühmstedt, Dr.-Ing. Christoph Munkelt and Matthias Heinze (Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF)


New hope in the fight against cancer: A research team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF has worked closely with Varian Medical Systems (Fraunhofer IOF’s industrial partner) to develop a novel system for tumor radiotherapy, which improves cancer patients’ chances of recovery. The scientists behind the project were awarded the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize for the overall system, which is ready for production.

When using radiotherapy to treat tumors, physicians harness the destructive power of the radiation to kill the cancer cells in a targeted manner, thereby contributing to the curing of cancer patients. The aim is to destroy the whole tumor region while minimizing damage to healthy tissue − a delicate balance that requires the utmost precision. The success of the treatment largely depends on this level of precision and so medical staff generate an accurate image of the tumor beforehand using radiation-based computed tomography and then plan the treatment using these scans. When the radiotherapy takes place a few days later, the patient must be in the exact same position as they were for the initial examination. This position must not change during the therapy.

The novel system developed by Fraunhofer researchers can continuously monitor the position of the patient both before and during radiation therapy. The chances of successful treatment and subsequent recovery are therefore significantly higher. In other words: it is a vital contribution to more effective cancer treatment that is gentler on the body. Dr. Peter Kühmstedt, Dr. Christoph Munkelt and Matthias Heinze from Fraunhofer IOF were awarded the 2022 Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize for the overall system, which was developed in collaboration with Varian Medical Systems and is production-ready. What particularly stood out to the jury was the relief provided to cancer patients who undergo this treatment.

Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize

Since 1978, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has awarded annual prizes to its employees for outstanding scientific achievements that solve practical problems. This year, three prizes were awarded, each worth 50,000 euros. The prizewinners also received a silver pin featuring the profile of Joseph von Fraunhofer.