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Vasilis Ntziachristos - Biological Imaging

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.

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.

  • Karl Heinz Beckurts-Preis, Germany (2021)
  • ECS Innovation Award (2021)
  • 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)

Mishra, K., Fuenzalida-Werner, J. P., Pennacchietti, F., Janowski, R., Chmyrov, A., Huang, Y., Zakian, C., Klemm, U., Testa, I., Niessing, D., Ntziachristos, V. (2022).& Stiel, A. C. Genetically encoded photo-switchable molecular sensors for optoacoustic and super-resolution imaging. Nat Biotechnol 40, 598-605.

Karlas, A., Pleitez, M. A., Aguirre, J. & Ntziachristos, V. (2021). Optoacoustic imaging in endocrinology and metabolism.  Nat Rev Endocrinol 17, 323-335.

Huang, Y., Omar, M., Tian, W., Lopez-Schier, H., Westmeyer, G. G., Chmyrov, A., Sergiadis, G. & Ntziachristos, V. (2021). Noninvasive visualization of electrical conductivity in tissues at the micrometer scale. Sci Adv 7.

Shnaiderman, R., Wissmeyer, G., Ulgen, O., Mustafa, Q., Chmyrov, A. & Ntziachristos, V. (2020). A submicrometre silicon-on-insulator resonator for ultrasound detection. Nature 585, 372-378.

Pleitez, M. A., Khan, A. A., Solda, A., Chmyrov, A., Reber, J., Gasparin, F., Seeger, M. R., Schatz, B., Herzig, S., Scheideler, M. & Ntziachristos, V. (2020) Label-free metabolic imaging by mid-infrared optoacoustic microscopy in living cells. Nat Biotechnol 38, 293-296.

Koch, M., Symvoulidis, P. & Ntziachristos, V. (2018). Tackling standardization in fluorescence molecular imaging. Nat. Photon. 12, 505-515.

Taruttis, A. & Ntziachristos, V. (2015). Advances in real-time multispectral optoacoustic imaging and its applications. Nat. Photon. 9, 219-227.

Ale, A., Ermolayev, V., Herzog, E., Cohrs, C., De Angelis, M. H. & Ntziachristos, V. (2012). FMT-XCT: In vivo animal studies with hybrid fluorescence molecular tomography-X-ray computed tomography. Nat. Methods 9, 615-620.

Van Dam, G. M., Themelis, G., Crane, L. M. A., Harlaar, N. J., Pleijhuis, R. G., Kelder, W., Sarantopoulos, A., De Jong, J. S., Arts, H. J. G., Van Der Zee, A. G. J., Bart, J., Low, P. S. & Ntziachristos, V. (2011). Intraoperative tumor-specific fluorescence imaging in ovarian cancer by folate receptor-α targeting: First in-human results. Nat. Med. 17, 1315-1319.

Ntziachristos, V. (2010). Going deeper than microscopy: The optical imaging frontier in biology. Nat. Methods 7, 603-614.

Prof. Dr. Vasilis Ntziachristos
Technical University of Munich
Chair of Biological Imaging
Helmholtz Zentrum München
Institute of Biological and Medical Imaging

Lidia Seidl
Phone: +49 89 4140 7211