Health Research in 4D

Drugs, diagnostics, devices and data are the four major areas of medical science.

Translational medicine

Testing new drugs in clinics, searching for specific biomarkers, developing sentient prostheses, brainstorming concepts for secure data management – health-related research certainly comes in many guises. The research efforts of 45 of 74 Fraunhofer Institutes address four major areas of medical science – drugs, diagnostics, devices and data, or 4D for short. The authors visited four research teams on the cutting edge of translational medicine, where fundamental research is ushered out of the lab and into the world.

Drugs, diagnostics, devices, data

45 of 74 Fraunhofer Institutes address four major areas of medical science. Visit at four research teams on the cutting edge of translational medicine.

© Fraunhofer IME / Bernd Müller


Report on a drug test at the Fraunhofer project group called Translational Medicine and Pharmacology TPM on the campus of Frankfurt am Main’s University Hospital.

© Fraunhofer IZI / Bernd Müller


In the RIBOLUTION project, scientists at the Fraunhofer IZI are looking for biomarkers for the diagnosis of prostate cancer.

© Fraunhofer IBMT / Bernd Müller


The Fraunhofer IBMT and twelve other institutes work together in the lighthouse project "Theranostic Implants". Sensors and actuators monitor the control and fit of the prosthesis.

© Fraunhofer MEVIS / Bernd Müller


At the Fraunhofer MEVIS researchers are working on the automatic segmentation - the recognition and marking of a specific organ in an image.

Health research projects and research institutions

Fraunhofer Project Group Translational Medicine and Pharmacology

The research focus of the project group is drug research, development of predictive preclinical and clinical models of disease and clinical research.

Project aidCURE

Curing articular rheumatism with a custom immunotherapy.

RIBOLUTION Biomarker Center

The RIBOLUTION Biomarker Center was set up at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI in Leipzig as part of a close cooperation involving five Fraunhofer institutes and several universities. At the Center, novel biomarkers are identified based on ribonucleic acids and developed through to clinical “proof of concept” with the aid of selected patient cohorts. At present, activities are primarily focused on development programs in the areas of prostate cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and infectious diseases.

Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project "Theranostic Implants"

Twelve Fraunhofer Institutes led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT have joined forces to work on the Fraunhofer lead project “Theranostic Implants”. Until now most implants have been of the purely passive type – a typical example is orthopedic devices for bone repair. But there is a growing interest in active “theranostic” implants that combine therapeutic and diagnostic functions in a single medical device. These devices create a closed feedback loop in which vital parameters are recorded and provide the input for therapeutic intervention.

Medical Data Space

The medical community collects enormous volumes of data in research labs, in clinics and at health insurance companies. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is developing the Medical Data Space to tap the potential of this precious data pool. It is a place where sensitive medical data can be securely connected.

The Medical Data Space builds on the Industrial Data Space developed by Fraunhofer in a joint effort with industry and government. This space enables industrial enterprises to securely exchange data, while ensuring they retain control over their data.

Patients’ privacy is the top priority for the Medical Data Space’s designers. As in the Industrial Data Space, data remain in the owners’ possession rather being stored data centrally in a cloud. This provides added security.

Algorithms for liver surgery – performing operations more safely worldwide

Four complex, interwoven vascular systems pass through the liver. Surgically removing tumors is therefore often a great challenge. The Fraunhofer Institute for Medical Image Computing MEVIS has developed algorithms that analyze patients‘ imaging data and calculate surgical risks. This makes liver cancer surgery safer and easier to plan..

Fraunhofer Group for Life Sciences

The Fraunhofer Group for Life Sciences bundles the biological, biomedical, pharmacological, toxicological and food technology competencies of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.