A team player in innovation

Christian Hofmann directs the innovation process for computed tomography at Siemens Healthineers. In the second part of our #Futureshaper series, you can find out how the Direct i4D solution he initiated can make the treatment of lung and liver cancer patients more precise, and why innovation only succeeds in a team.
Katja Gäbelein
Published on November 2, 2021

Who knows what direction Christian Hofmann's career would have taken if his grandmother had not been seriously ill with cancer years ago. Back then, he happened to be in Erlangen for the second semester of his physics studies and was able to visit her almost daily in the radiation clinic.

It was at that time, says the now 37-year-old, he only really became aware of the importance of medicine and <a href="medical technology">medical technology</a> for people's lives: He decided to specialize in medical physics in his otherwise theory-heavy studies – driven by the desire to be able to help people with his work. Even as a student, his favorite topic of interest was imaging.

Whether technical developer, creative business manager or product designer: In our #Futureshaper series, we introduce employees whose innovative ideas help to pioneer breakthroughs in healthcare.

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He wrote both his diploma and doctoral thesis in the field of computed tomography of the heart. And immediately after completing his dissertation he started working at his employer of choice, Siemens Healthineers, as a concept physicist for radiotherapy in the field of <a href="computed tomography">computed tomography</a>: "I just knew that working here ideally matched my abilities and interests." <br><br>Today, Christian has a number of different titles and roles at Siemens Healthineers. One of them is "Global CT Technology Manager": "One of my most important tasks in this position is to promote the mindset of innovation in the field of computed tomography." Christian leads the innovation process at CT: Within a defined process, the various teams – grouped into technology clusters – work on new solutions and products. Christian is a sparring partner for his colleagues, for example when moderating regular meetings.
Computed tomography or "CT" is an imaging procedure in medicine based on X-ray technology. Injuries, tumors and vascular changes are precisely mapped.

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Trademark: Christian has a soft spot for brightly patterned socks, bringing some color into his otherwise pragmatically muted wardrobe.
Christian is convinced that innovation is a team sport: "We at Siemens Healthineers can only launch innovative projects if we transparently share our information and knowledge with each another, and communication flows freely. Without my <a href="colleagues">colleagues</a>, I would know far less!"
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Always sharing ideas: Karin Rauwolf, CT Innovation Manager, is a colleague with whom Christian works closely.
One of Christian's <a href="most innovative">most innovative</a> "own" projects is the development of Direct i4D. Direct i4D is a combination of algorithmic solutions for improved imaging for radiotherapy planning, primarily for lung and liver cancer patients.<br>As part of the project, Christian was responsible for brainstorming, pre-development including programming, and the feasibility study for prototyping. The Siemens Healthineers team worked closely with clinical partners from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE).

To protect his ideas, Christian works closely with patent attorneys at Siemens Healthineers. In total, he has made 52 inventions, many of them in a team with other inventors. This resulted in 46 patents granted.

High-precision CT scans are needed to plan radiation treatments. The challenge lies in the fact that a <a href="patient's breathing">patient's breathing</a> can cause so-called motion artifacts in CT scans – more or less "imaging errors".

Irregular breathing means that the patient has an erratic respiration rate or amplitude – simply put – inhales irregularly and/or at different depths.

quotation portrait Christian Hofmann

The central innovation of <a href="Direct i4D">Direct i4D</a>: The patient's breathing now controls the CT scan: patients no longer have to adapt their breathing to the requirements of the CT scanner . This makes it possible to generate significantly more precise images for patients, even those with irregular breathing movements, which in turn can enable more precise radiation treatment.&nbsp;Although modesty is very important to Christian, he is nevertheless proud of the paradigm shift that could be achieved with Direct i4D: "We're all living longer, which unfortunately also increases our likelihood of developing cancer at some point in our lives. I just hope that our solution can help to improve therapy."
The Direct i4D feature is currently being used in our SOMATOM go.Open Pro, SOMATOM X.cite, and SOMATOM X.ceed CT scanners.
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In good company: The full beard has a long tradition at Siemens Healthineers.
In addition to his job at Siemens Healthineers, Christian will soon begin his habilitation at the Institute of Medical Physics at the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, of course in the field of computed tomography for radiotherapy. Sharing his expertise with students in the context of university teaching is a matter close to his heart. After all, he is a team athlete in terms of knowledge transfer, so that in the future even more people will be inspired to innovative ideas. <br><br>And Christian's grandma? Thanks to medicine and medical technology, she survived cancer – and is now in her mid-90s.

By Katja Gäbelein
Katja Gäbelein is a digital editor and content creator for multimedia content at Siemens Healthineers. She specializes in technology and innovation.