Institute chronicles


After 40 years of Fraunhofer ITEM, we can look back on quite a few milestones:


First steps als Fraunhofer ITA

The Fraunhofer Institute in Hannover starts its operations – after only two years of planning and construction. A large research project on behalf of an automobile manufacturer in Wolfsburg, Germany, was already on its way: they wanted exhaust emissions to be studied. In early summer 1981, more than 40 employees were at work in the new laboratories and offices. “Fraunhofer Institute of Toxicology and Aerosol Research ITA” was the institute’s initial name, indicating already its focuses.

The aim was to elucidate correlations between the presence of airborne pollutants and their toxic effects in man. The scientists therefore focused their research in the fields of inhalation toxicology, environmental hygiene, cell biology, testing of chemicals, aerosol research, and analytical chemistry.


Extension of the first building section

The second part of the building is completed. By 2010, another nine building extensions will be made. The institute’s utilizable floor space will then sum up to more than 19,000 square meters.


Director of the institute Prof. Uwe Heinrich
© Fraunhofer ITEM
Director of the institute Prof. Uwe Heinrich

Director of the institute and two new departments 

Prof. Dr. Dr. Uwe Heinrich, professor of toxicology and aerosol research at the Hannover Medical School, Germany, takes over as director of the institute. Since the institute was founded in 1981, he has been one of its research fellows and has enriched the institute with his broad knowledge in inhalation toxicology and experimental oncology.

Furthemore, the departments of Molecular Toxicology/Molecular Medicine and Clinical Research are being set up.


“Pharmaco- and Toxicogenomics”

The research area “Pharmaco- and Toxicogenomics” is being set up, including research on molecular diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. From 2000 on, this is funded by the Land Lower Saxony.


Department of Clinical Airway Research

At the end of the 1990s, the Department of Clinical Airway Research was established. The focus is on airway diseases such as asthma, COPD, and allergic rhinitis, and on interstitial lung diseases, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in particular.


Allergen challenge chambers
© Fraunhofer ITEM, Ralf Mohr
Allergen challenge chambers are an excellent tool for testing allergy treatments in early-phase clinical trials.

"Fraunhofer Allergen Challenge Camber"

The pollen exposure chamber proves successful – it will later be named “Fraunhofer Allergen Challenge Chamber” (ACC). The first clinical trial is successfully completed. Today, Fraunhofer ITEM is equipped with three special challenge chambers in which pollen and other allergens can be dispersed in the air under controlled conditions.

First Workshop “Models of Lung Disease”

The international workshop “Models of Lung Disease” is held for the first time. During this event, scientists discuss new pharmaceutical developments and methods used in preclinical asthma research.


Fraunhofer ITEM, Hannover
© Fraunhofer ITEM
Fraunhofer ITEM, Hannover

ITA becomes ITEM, Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine

By the turn of the millennium, the Fraunhofer Institute in Hannover has considerably expanded its scope of services. The departments of Clinical Airway Research and of Molecular Medicine with research in genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics are increasingly at the focus.

The past competencies though continue to be important, aerosol technology in particular, as this know-how is also required in the clinical unit with its allergen challenge chambers. In order that the expansion of competencies be clearly perceived also in the public, the institute changes its name. “Fraunhofer Institute of Toxicology and Aerosol Research ITA” becomes “Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine ITEM”.


Fraunhofer ITEM, Braunschweig
© Fraunhofer ITEM, Ralf Mohr
Fraunhofer ITEM, Braunschweig

New facilitiy in Braunschweig

The Braunschweig-based, new “Division of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology” complements the competencies of Fraunhofer ITEM. With the GMP facilities for aseptic fill and finish of clinical investigational products in Hannover and for the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals, the institute is able to meet all quality standards of studies required for drug registration: GLP, GMP, and GCP.


Logo of the German Center for Lung Research
© Deutsches Zentrum für Lungenforschung
Since 2010, Fraunhofer ITEM is member of the German Center for Lung Research.

Membership in the German Center for Lung Research

Fraunhofer ITEM becomes a member of the German Center for Lung Research – one of six national centers for health research initiated by the German government in 2010 and funded under its new health research program.


Clinical Research Center Hannover
© Fraunhofer ITEM
The CRC Hannover is outstanding for its modern techniques.

CRC Hannover: Opening of an unique study center

Opening of the "Clinical Research Center Hannover" (CRC Hannover), an investigative site for early-phase clinical trials that is the only one of its kind in Germany, operated by Fraunhofer ITEM in cooperation with the Hannover Medical School and the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research.

On 6000 square meters floor space, the CRC Hannover hosts clinical studies, patient-oriented research, epidemiological studies, and the central biobank of the Hannover Medical School.


"Translational Biomedical Engineering" at Fraunhofer ITEM
© Fraunhofer ITEM, Ralf Mohr
In 2016 "Translational Biomedical Engineering" starts at Fraunhofer ITEM.

"Translational Biomedical Engineering" at Fraunhofer ITEM

Based on the former Department of Medical Inhalation Technology, the new Division of Translational Biomedical Engineering and corresponding business unit are established.


Director of the Fraunhofer Institute Prof. Dr. Norbert Krug
© Fraunhofer ITEM
Director of the Fraunhofer Institute Prof. Dr. Norbert Krug
Fraunhofer ITEM, Regensburg
© Fraunhofer ITEM
Fraunhofer ITEM, Regensburg

New director of the Fraunhofer Institute

After 21 years of successful leadership, Professor Uwe Heinrich cedes his position as Fraunhofer ITEM Executive Director to Professor Norbert Krug on January 1, 2017. Prof. Dr. Norbert Krug is professor of immunology, allergology and clinical inhalation research and has been medical director and co-director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine ITEM since 2008.


High-Performance Center

In spring 2017, the High-Performance Center Translational Biomedical Engineering is inaugurated.


New facility at Regensburg

After its successful evaluation, the Regensburg-based Project Group for Personalized Tumor Therapy  becomes a division of Fraunhofer ITEM.


The Project Group Bioinformatics
© Vasily Smirnov -
The Project Group Bioinformatics

Project Group for Bioinformatics

The Project Group for Bioinformatics is set up under the “Fraunhofer Attract” research grant.


Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Thum
© Fraunhofer ITEM
Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Thum

Institute management in tandem

On January 1, 2021, Prof. Thomas Thum joined Fraunhofer ITEM as institute director, to manage the institute henceforth together with Prof. Norbert Krug.