Dr. Zeynep Akbal
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We are delighted to welcome Dr. Zeynep Akbal as a new member of the team!
Before she started as a post-doctoral researcher at the Digital Surgery Lab she studied communication sciences, media sciences, philosophy, and worked on developing her interdisciplinary method around virtual reality (VR) technology. She did her doctorate in philosophy at Universität Potsdam. Her dissertation is recently published as a monograph, titled "Lived-Body Experiences in Virtual Reality. A Phenomenology of the Virtual Body.”
Her research focuses on the intersection of philosophy of perception, cognitive sciences and VR. In her recent research project “Tactile Stimulation in VR” at Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, she focused on the behavioral consequences of haptic feedback in a VR task.

Wellcome to the team!
Dr. Moritz Queisner
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Dr. rer. medic. Moritz Queisner received his doctorate certificate today (magna cum laude)! This is in recognition of his work in the field of extended reality technology in visceral surgery. His thesis is entitled XR in surgery – spatial end embodied computing in digital surgery: technology, application, design.

DICOM_XR | XR4ALL 2nd Open Call: Project Selected for Phase 1
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XR4ALL is an initiative by the European Commission to strengthen the European XR industry.

After 140 applications, 18 projects have been selected for Phase 1 of the 2nd Cut-off date of the XR4ALL Open Call. In this phase, projects need to expand upon and validate their concept from a business and a technical perspective during two months.
Based on an evaluation at the end of the first phase, only the best-rated projects will be admitted to Phase 2 and therefore be able to develop the proposed solution.

Our project DICOM_XR (PI: Christoph Rüger) is one of them (and one of three from Germany)!

One of the most common use-cases for XR in medicine is the visualization of medical imaging data like computed tomography (CT) scans. The well-established standard for storing and transferring such data is DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine). It is used in all major hospitals in the European Union – XR applications that involve medical images need to be built upon this standard. Existing open-source DICOM frameworks offer data interoperability and are compatible with 3D engines, like Unity. However, while DICOM is well-established and very feature rich, it is also a complex standard to work with as a developer. In addition to data interoperability provided by DICOM, most medical XR applications also require: 1) Data transfer from a machine with access to the hospital’s image network to mobile XR devices such as HMDs, 2) performant visualization, particularly for stereographic displays, and 3) view manipulation with 3D input (e.g. hand tracking) instead of mouse input. These requirements are, at best, additional workloads for technically skilled teams and, at worst, insurmountable hurdles for projects lacking programmers.
DICOM_XR is a framework aiming to solve all three of these requirements: data transfer, performant visualization and utilization of three-dimensional input. Building upon an existing open-source DICOM solution, DICOM_XR will offer a ‘plug and play’ solution for XR developers. It will significantly decrease technical hurdles for e.g. medical studies evaluating XR, which are still sorely needed. It can also streamline the development of commercial XR applications: Medical open-source projects such as SlicerIGT have been successfully used as a foundation for certified medical products. In short, DICOM_XR will allow medical XR developers to focus on features that their users want, rather than technical infrastructure.
Brigitta Globke: Digital Clinician Scientist
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Dr. Brigitta Globke successfully applied for participation in the BIH Charite Digital Clinician Scientist Program.

The aim of the project is the development and evaluation of an augmented reality assist system for intraoperative photoplethysmographic control of perfusion. The project is carried out in collaboration with Benjamin Kossack, Fraunhofer | Heinrich Hertz Institute Computer Vision and Graphics.

Charité and BIH are jointly organizing the new "Digital Clinician Scientist Program" (D-CSP). The program is primarily aimed at physicians who are already working on innovative research projects to meet the technological challenges of data-driven medicine during their specialist training. The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the project for an initial period of three years.

The BIH Charité Digital Clinician Scientist Program will provide a new career path for the creators of digital change in medicine and will expand the successful Germany-wide model of the BIH Charité Clinician Scientist Program. In addition to the three-year individual funding, which is based on protected time for research, the focus is on modules for the acquisition of scientific skills (Big Data, bioinformatics or artificial intelligence) as well as mandatory mentoring. For the new program, various experts* from the Charité, the BIH, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB), the Einstein Center for Digital Future, and the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience will be involved in the design of the D-CSP and in the recruitment and supervision of program participants.
Matters of Activity. Image Space Material
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Prof. I.M. Sauer and Prof. J. Pratschke became principal investigators in the new Cluster of Exzellence Matters of Activity. Image Space Material. This Cluster will explore materials’ own inner activity, which can be discovered as a new source of innovative strategies and mechanisms for rethinking the relationship between the analog and the digital and for designing more sustainable and energy-efficient technologies.
The project’s central vision is to develop images, spaces, and materials as active structures of a new physical and symbolic reality, in which nature and culture intertwine in a novel way. In this context, interdisciplinary research and development of sustainable processes and structures is a key priority in all areas of visual-material character, such as wearables, materials technology, medical technology, logistics, architecture, and robotics. More than 40 disciplines are systematically investigating design strategies for materials and structures that adapt to specific requirements and the environment. The cluster relies on a new role for design within the context of growing diversity and the continuous improvement of materials and forms of visualization in all disciplines.
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Our manuscript "Depletion of donor dendritic cells ameliorates immunogenicity of both skin and hind limb transplants" has been accepted for publication in Frontiers in Immunology, section Alloimmunity and Transplantation. Authors are Muhammad Imtiaz Ashraf, Joerg Mengwasser, Anja Reutzel-Selke, Dietrich Polenz, Kirsten Führer, Steffen Lippert, Peter Tang, Edward Michaelis, Rusan Catar, Johann Pratschke, Christian Witzel, Igor M. Sauer, Stefan G. Tullius, and Barbara Kern.

Acute cellular rejection remains a significant obstacle affecting successful outcomes of organ transplantation including vascularized composite tissue allografts (VCA). Donor antigen presenting cells (APC), particularly dendritic cells (DC), orchestrate early alloimmune responses by activating recipient effector T cells. Employing a targeted approach, we investigated the impact of donor-derived conventional DC (cDC) and APC on the immunogenicity of skin and skin-containing VCA grafts, using mouse models of skin and hind limb transplantation.
By post-transplantation day 6, skin grafts demonstrated severe rejections, characterized by predominance of recipient CD4 T cells. In contrast, hind limb grafts showed moderate rejection, primarily infiltrated by CD8 T cells. While donor depletion of cDC and APC reduced frequencies, maturation, and activation of DC in all analysed tissues of skin transplant recipients, reduction in DC activities was only observed in the spleen of hind limb recipients. Donor cDC and APC depletion did not impact all lymphocyte compartments but significantly affected CD8 T cells and activated CD4 T in lymph nodes of skin recipients. Moreover, both donor APC and cDC depletion attenuated the Th17 immune response, evident by significantly reduced Th17 (CD4+IL-17+) cells in the spleen of skin recipients and reduced levels of IL-17E and lymphotoxin-α in the serum samples of both skin and hind limb recipients. In conclusion, our findings underscore the highly immunogenic nature of skin component in VCA. The depletion of donor APC and cDC mitigates the immunogenicity of skin grafts while exerting minimal impact on VCA.




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