Biological Imaging

Vasilis Ntziachristos 

Vasilis Ntziachristos studied electrical engineering and computer science at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and obtained his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. Between 2000 and 2007, he served as instructor, assistant professor, and Director of the Laboratory for Bio-Optics and Molecular Imaging at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2007, he was appointed Director of the Chair of Biological Imaging at TUM and Director of the Institute of Biological and Medical Imaging at the Helmholtz Zentrum München. Moreover, he is the Director of Bioengineering of the Helmholtz Pioneer Campus.


Research Focus

The Chair Biological Imaging (CBI) at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) focuses on the development and propagation of in vivo imaging technology to read novel, previously invisible processes and disease biomarkers. Applications span from basic research and drug discovery to biological imaging and clinical translation for diagnostics, theranostics, and treatment monitoring in key areas involving cancer and immunology. Strategically located within TranslaTUM and supported by the Institute of Biological and Medical Imaging (IBMI) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, CBI connects basic research and clinical need and serves as an educational and translational unit in imaging technology and application. CBI integrates highly interdisciplinary skills, bridging mathematics, physics, engineering, chemistry, biology and medicine, and invests in key focus areas including developing new imaging devices and methods, advancing imaging and image reconstruction techniques, and developing in vivo imaging assays for reading pathophysiological disease parameters in vivo.

One main focus of research activity is the development of multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT), an optical imaging method that revolutionizes bio-optical imaging by dramatically lowering fundamental barriers to optical imaging, in particular the resolution and depth achieved. Supported by ERC awards and EU, DFG, BMBF and other agency funding, MSOT has now achieved unprecedented performance at the microscopic, mesoscopic and macroscopic levels, including systems for human imaging. Particular emphasis is placed on the development of multi-wavelength imaging and spectral analysis for identifying unique patho-physiological features of disease using label-free imaging of tissue oxygenation, angiogenesis, inflammation or metabolism, and on novel transgenic technologies for optoacoustic reporter genes, linking biological discovery to functional readings.

Moreover, CBI research explores fluorescence molecular imaging for advancing surgical and endoscopic guidance. We already achieved the first clinical translation of a targeted fluorescent agent in ovarian cancer surgery in 2011 and are now working toward translating a larger number of agents and propagating this technology to a larger number of surgeries and endoscopies.

Key Awards

  • Chaire d'excellence internationale Blaise Pascal by the Région Île-de-France (2019)
  • Gold Medal Award from the World Molecular Imaging Society (2015)
  • Advanced Investigator Award from the European Research Council (2015)
  • German Innovation Prize for MSOT technology (2014)
  • Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize from the German Research Foundation, DFG (2013)
  • Erwin Schrödinger Prize from the Helmholtz Association, Germany (2011)
  • Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Medal from the Technical University of Munich (2009)
  • Advanced Investigator Award from the European Research Council (2008)

Selected Publications

  • Tzoumas S, Nunes A, Olefi r I, Stangl S, Symvoulidis P, Glasl S, Bayer C, Multhoff G & Ntziachristos V, Eigenspectra optoacoustic tomography achieves quantitative blood oxygenation imaging deep in tissues, Nature Communications 7:12121 (2016).
  • Taruttis A & Ntziachristos V, Advances in real-time multispectral optoacoustic imaging and its applications, Nature Photonics 9:219–227 (2015).
  • Stritzker J, Kirscher L, Scadeng M, Deliolanis NC, Morscher S, Symvoulidis P, Schaefer K, Zhang Q, Buckel L, Hess M, Donat U, Bradley WG, Ntziachristos V, Szalay AA, Vaccinia virus-mediated melanin production allows MR and optoacoustic deep tissue imaging and laser-induced thermotherapy of cancer, PNAS 110 (9):3316–3320 (2013).
  •  Ale A, Ermolayev V, Herzog E, Cohrs C, de Angelis MH, Ntziachristos V, FMT-XCT: in vivo animal studies with hybrid fl uorescence molecular tomography-X-ray computed tomography Nature Methods, 9(6):615–620 (2012).
  • van Dam GM, Themelis G, Crane LMA, Harlaar N, De Jong JS, Arts HJG, Bart J, Low P, Ntziachristos V, Intraoperative tumor-specifi c fl uorescence imaging in ovarian cancer by folate receptor- targeting: fi rst in-human results, Nature Medicine 17, 1315–1319 (2011).