15. November 2022 | Press releases:

North German Science Award also goes to Braunschweig Research project "Homeo-Hirn" awarded second prize

Scientists from Technische Universität Braunschweig are delighted to have won the North German Science Award (Norddeutscher Wissenschaftspreis). On Monday evening, the research project “Homeo-Hirn” (Homeo-Brain) was awarded the second prize of 100,000 euros in Hamburg. Here, researchers are investigating the homeostasis of brain cells. A disturbance of this equilibrium can be the cause of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, among other things. The first prize of 150,000 euros went to the joint project “CIMMS” of the Hamburg University of Technology in the field of materials science.

Since 2012, the northern German states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and Hanseatic City of Hamburg have conferred the North German Science Award for Research Cooperation. This year, the focus was on engineering sciences.

The award-winning project “Homeo-Hirn” (Homeo-Brain) combines the work of three research centres at TU Braunschweig – the Braunschweig Integrated Centre of Systems Biology (BRICS), the Center of Pharmaceutical Engineering (PVZ) and the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA). The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine and the Universität zu Lübeck are also involved in the project.

“The award is an important support for the interdisciplinary research between neuroscience, drug and infection research with our engineering sciences at TU. On the one hand, we are trying to improve biomedical measuring instruments here to an international level. But we are also working on analysing the complex interplay of nerve cells in brains more precisely in order to then better understand processes of maintaining an inner balance (homeostasis) derived from this. This is important in order to then find out how to restore the balance in the concert of neuronal communication processes, as in the case of an infection or the onset of Alzheimer’s disease,” says neurobiologist Prof. Martin Korte, initiator and head of the “Homeo-Hirn” project and at the same time spokesperson for the research focus Engineering for Health at TU Braunschweig.

“The recognition of ‘Homeo-Hirn’ with the North German Science Award has caused great joy for me and us at TU Braunschweig – not only because three large TU research centres and important partners from the research region are involved, but also because the joint research on a pressing problem in our society becomes more visible. It also shows that the forward-looking decision to link engineering and health even more closely in the research focus ‘Engineering for Health’ was strategically exactly right,” says Prof. Angela Ittel, President of TU Braunschweig.

More about “Homeo-Hirn“

The human brain consists of 83 billion nerve cells and just as many glial cells (which support the neurons in their work and also contain the brain’s immune system). Their internal milieu is kept in a state of equilibrium by finely tuned metabolic processes, the so-called metabolic homeostasis. Particularly diseases in old age are caused, among other things, by the fact that the metabolic homeostasis of the brain cells is disturbed. This is where the “Homeo-Hirn” project comes in: Scientists want to investigate how cell bodies, dendrites, axons and synapses interact with each other and with the glial cells and what effects a disturbed metabolic homeostasis, for example after an infection, has on the brain.

In order to observe such processes in living nerve cells, precise measuring instruments have been lacking until now. The research team now wants to develop these in the interdisciplinary project. Researchers from neurobiology, systems biology, chemistry and engineering sciences such as mechanical and electrical engineering are working together on this project.

The project is funded by the state of Lower Saxony and the Volkswagen Foundation with 1.4 million euros from the Volkswagen Foundation’s “Niedersächsisches Vorab”.

About the North German Science Award

The award has been presented annually since 2012 and every two years since 2018. The aim is to promote northern German networks in science and to raise awareness of their capabilities beyond the state borders. This year, Hamburg is hosting the North German Science Award. Competition entries could be collaborative projects from all fields of engineering – such as production technology, mechanics, process or materials engineering, materials science, computer science, civil engineering or architecture. The collaborations are proposed by a scientific selection committee. The decision on the award winners is made by the Ministers of Science and Science Senators of the North German Conference of Ministers of Science.