Innovation culture

Nomination for the 2021 German Future Award

Three researchers from Siemens Healthineers – Stefan Ulzheimer, PhD, Professor Thomas Flohr, PhD, and Björn Kreisler, PhD – have been nominated for the German Future Award (Deutscher Zukunftspreis).

Doris Pischitz
Published on September 15, 2021

Their project entitled “A photon-counting computed tomography scanner – a revolutionary way of looking inside the human body” opens new horizons in clinical imaging by successfully combining high spatial and temporal resolution with improved image contrast.1

In modern medicine, computed tomography (CT) is an indispensable tool for physicians to assist them in the early and fast detection and diagnosis of diseases. Yet not all diagnostic questions can be answered using CT imaging. In some cases, a CT examination will not produce information that allows the physician to make a conclusive diagnosis from which necessary treatment can be derived. Examples include brain diagnoses, the characterization of tumor tissue, and the examination of severely calcified coronary arteries. There are also concerns about exposing children and adolescents to X-ray radiation, and about exposing people with kidney disease to the iodine-containing contrast media often used. Conventional CT imaging is a technically mature procedure, so further steps to overcome these limitations are not feasible with traditional technical approaches.<sup>1</sup>
<a href="Working with other colleagues">Working with other colleagues</a> at Siemens Healthineers, the nominees developed an innovative CT concept, tested it with clinical prototypes, and developed it for series production and routine clinical use.<sup>2 </sup>
Researchers from Siemens Healthineers have been nominated for the German Future Prize (Deutscher Zukunftspreis).

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The concept involves completely new detector technology and major redevelopments of all the system components, hardware, and software. <a href="Photon-counting">Photon-counting</a> computed tomography opens new horizons by achieving something unprecedented: It combines very sharp images and extremely short acquisition times with improved image contrast and more diagnostically useful content. It also requires lower X-ray and contrast agent doses. It is therefore not merely a new, improved generation of CT scanner – CT imaging has effectively been reinvented. <br><br>The huge potential of this innovation offers great advantages for doctors and patients alike. Patients who previously could not undergo CT imaging can now benefit from this fast and noninvasive examination method. In addition, the wealth of information produced by photon-counting CT imaging could be used with AI to assist the physician in differential diagnoses of cardiovascular and oncology cases, and to plan and track targeted therapies.

Photons are the energy quanta of electromagnetic radiation – e.g., light, X-rays, or gamma radiation. The interaction between radiation and matter can result in either the absorption or emission of photons.

Bernd Montag

<p>The Siemens Healthineers team is one of three research teams nominated for the award. The prize, awarded by the Federal President of Germany, is one of the country’s highest distinctions for technology and innovation. The other finalists are BioNTech SE for the development of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, and Continental AG for the development of tires made from dandelion rubber. The German Future Award will be awarded on November 17, 2021, by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, PhD, in Berlin.</p>

By Doris Pischitz
Doris Pischitz is an editor in corporate communications at Siemens Healthineers. The team specializes in topics related to healthcare, medical technology, disease areas, and digitalization.