Finally, the time had come: With a ceremony on May 18, 2022, the state of Baden-Württemberg handed over the IMBIT building to the University of Freiburg. Already since May 2021, we are conducting interdisciplinary research in the new building on technical and medical foundations for practically applicable neuronal interfaces for bidirectional interaction between the brain and autonomous robotic systems. The official opening was postponed due to the pandemic.
Groundbreaking research for the treatment of neurological diseases
"Nearly 3,300 square meters of space are now available for cutting-edge interdisciplinary research," said Gisela Splett, state secretary at the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Finance. "Experimental areas, laboratories, offices and communication zones as well as an event room offer the best opportunities for scientists from the fields of computer science, robotics, microsystems technology and medicine for their work in the field of neurotechnological applications."
Stefan Landerer, Ministerial Director of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts, said, "The interaction between humans and technology is at the heart of IMBIT. Through trend-setting research on the treatment of neurological diseases such as stroke or epilepsy, results of high societal benefit are achieved at IMBIT." In addition, work is being done on practical applications that help patients with brain and nerve diseases that were previously difficult to treat, such as assistance systems that can be controlled purely mentally.
Further development of the Cluster of Excellence BrainLinks-BrainTools
Prof. Dr. Stefan Rensing, Prorector for Research and Innovation at the University of Freiburg, emphasizes: "IMBIT represents the consistent further development of research in the Cluster of Excellence BrainLinks-BrainTools and strengthens the research profile field of neuroscience and neurotechnology at the University of Freiburg."
The spokesperson team of BrainLinks-BrainTools Prof. Dr. Ilka Diester, neurobiologist at the Faculty of Biology, and Prof. Dr. Thomas Stieglitz from the Institute of Microsystems Engineering, say: "Today, knowledge is gained at the interfaces between disciplines, because innovation requires the interplay of complementary knowledge and skills. At IMBIT, members of the Faculty of Biology, the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Technology are conducting research side by side - to develop tools that will help us better understand how the brain works. We want to use them to create interfaces between humans and machines in order to develop better treatment methods. Using modern techniques of AI these interfaces are becoming constatnly more intelligent. Taking this into account we decided to include this in the name of the building as well and replaced the I of "Insitute" with the I for "Intelligent".
The state and the University of Freiburg, together with the federal government - with its supraregional research funding - have invested around 42.1 million euros in the new building. The new building is supplied with heat via the local heating network of the university hospital's combined heat and power plant. The building envelope has passive house quality and the ventilation system is equipped with a highly efficient heat recovery system.
Dr. Bettina Schug
Hochschul- und Wissenschaftskommunikation
The new research building for Intelligent Machine-Brain Interfacing Technology; short: IMBIT, is being constructed here.
The overall aim of the research activities performed in IMBIT is the exploration of neurobiological mechanisms, as well as the technical and medical basics for longterm applicability of neuronal interfaces towards bidirectional interaction between the brain and novel autonomous robotic systems, all the way up to practicable applications.
Thus, IMBIT is the consequent further research development of the BrainLinks-BrainTools Cluster of Excellence, and it will reinforce the focus on neurotechnology research at Freiburg University.
IMBIT integrates three closely linked fields of research: Microsystems Technology (NeuroProbes), Experimental Neurotechnology (NeuroCore), and Robotics (NeuroRob).
The design of the building depicts a clear cubic body, embracing a quiet green patio. The three research areas are located on three levels, surrounding the inner courtyard in an U-shape. In a vis-á-vis formation, offices face outward and labs inward.
At the front of the building, central functions as meeting room, central communication areas as well as the administration offices are located. These areas are reached by a stairway open to all three levels, thus enhancing interdisciplinary exchange.
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