40 years of Fraunhofer ITEM

The heart complementing the lung – health research in Lower Saxony

Record of the livestream of July 13, 2021: Lower Saxony's Minister of Science Björn Thümler, Prof. Michael Manns, Prof. Ulrike Köhl, Prof. Norbert Krug and Prof. Thomas Thum discussed potentials of health research in Lower Saxony (in German language).

A short video summary of the panel discussion (in German language) is available here: https://youtu.be/DQaSuXC7dN0

Our evolution

For 40 years, we have been developing solutions for human health

© Fraunhofer ITEM

1981 – takeoff!

We got started on May 27, 1981, at that time as Fraunhofer ITA (Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Aerosol Research) – in this new building in Hannover (Germany) with a staff of 40 and a large project commissioned by an automobile manufacturer. The institute had been founded by aerosol physicist Prof. Werner Stöber and pathologist Prof. Ulrich Mohr.

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1996 – new institute director

After Prof. Uwe Heinrich became Director of Fraunhofer ITEM, a position he was to hold for 21 years, new research focuses were added to the institute’s scope of activities: inhalation toxicology, molecular toxicology, pharmaco- and toxicogenomics, and experimental oncology.

© Fraunhofer ITEM, Ralf Mohr

2000 – start of clinical trials

The department of Clinical Airway Research, which meanwhile has gained high international reputation, was established. Its focus is on airway diseases such as asthma, COPD, allergic rhinitis, and interstitial lung diseases. In 2002, the first trial in our pollen challenge chamber was completed.

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2003 – ITA became ITEM

With its departments of Molecular Medicine and Clinical Airway Research, the institute set new priorities. In order that this thematic expansion be clearly perceived in the public, the institute was renamed: “Fraunhofer ITA” became “Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine ITEM.”

© Fraunhofer ITEM, Ralf Mohr

2008 – new division in Braunschweig

With the new “Division of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology” at the Science Campus Braunschweig-Süd, Fraunhofer ITEM expanded to a second location. The scope of R&D services ranges from the development of manufacturing processes for biopharmaceutical agents such as proteins or viruses to the manufacturing of clinical investigational medicinal products in the form of infusion solutions or in vials or ampoules.

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2010 – personalized tumor therapy

The Project Group for Personalized Tumor Therapy was set up in Regensburg. Our aim there has since been the development of diagnostic tests and innovative models to enable detection of disseminated cancer cells early in the disease and prediction of the response to therapy of metastatic progenitor cells. In 2017, the Project Group became a Fraunhofer ITEM division bearing the same name.

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2014 – opening of the CRC Hannover

In cooperation with the Hannover Medical School (MHH) and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), we opened the Clinical Research Center Hannover (CRC Hannover) and now have a research center for our early-phase clinical trials that is the only one of its kind in Germany.

© Fraunhofer ITEM

2017 – Prof. Norbert Krug took over as Institute Director

After 21 years, Prof. Uwe Heinrich ceded his position as Fraunhofer ITEM Executive Director to Prof. Norbert Krug, who is professor of immunology, allergology and clinical inhalation research and had been medical director and co-director of Fraunhofer ITEM already since 2008.

© Fraunhofer ITEM, Ralf Mohr

2017 – translational biomedical engineering

Fraunhofer ITEM expanded its research portfolio to include the development of medical devices. In addition, a corresponding high-performance center was launched in spring 2017, to be superseded by the “High-Performance Center Medical and Pharmaceutical Engineering” in 2021.

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2019 – new Project Group for Bioinformatics

The new Project Group for Bioinformatics was established. Our aim is to improve the analysis of data collected in health research by using novel intelligent methods and to provide special techniques that enable efficient and validated analyses.

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2020 – Fraunhofer vs. Corona

As an institute with decades of experience in infection and airway research, drug development, biomedical engineering, and chemical risk assessment, we have made an important contribution to scientific progress in the fight against the new coronavirus.

© Fraunhofer ITEM, Ralf Mohr

2021 – institute management in tandem

In January, Prof. Thomas Thum joined Fraunhofer ITEM as Institute Director. The research focus of this specialist in cardiology and bioscience ideally complements our previous focuses in the field of lung and airway research. Prof. Thum will henceforth manage the institute together with Prof. Krug.

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