New International Biophysics Collaboration Meets at GSI and FAIR


The first meeting of the International Biophysics Collaboration took place at GSI and FAIR. More than 200 researchers, scientists and students from all over the world attended the three-day conference. The Collaboration exploits the opportunities offered by FAIR and other new accelerator facilities in biomedical applications of ion beams. Astronaut Reinhold Ewald was among the top-class speakers.

In order to network, coordinate and strengthen future biophysical research at FAIR and other large accelerator facilities, the first meeting of the International Biophysics Collaboration took place at GSI and FAIR. The participants were welcomed by Professor Paolo Giubellino, Scientific Managing Director of GSI and FAIR, Professor Karlheinz Langanke, Research Director of GSI and FAIR, and Professor Marco Durante, Head of the Biophysics Department.

“We are proud of the success of this first meeting of the new international biophysics collaboration,” said Giubellino. “FAIR will open up new opportunities for experimentation for the international biophysics community with particularly high energies and intensities. The numerous and active participation in the meeting shows how important the FAIR Phase 0 Research Program, which has already begun, is in view of the later unique research opportunities in FAIR which is currently under construction. As a user facility, our mission is to offer scientists the opportunity for excellent research, and the response of the international scientific community is the most direct measure of the quality of our work.”

“We are thrilled of the community's great interest in the first meeting of the International Biophysics Collaboration,” says Durante. “Participants have arrived from 27 countries in all 5 continents. The beginning of the FAIR experiments with FAIR Phase 0 is the occasion for us to establish a solid collaboration from the already existing cooperation of the user groups. FAIR offers completely new opportunities for biology, medicine and space research. The other new facilities that are currently being built in Europe, Asia and the USA also want to develop research programs in biomedical applications, and therefore they knit together in the FAIR Collaboration. We jointly want to develop new cooperative research programs and tools for the future.”

One of the first speakers was astronaut Reinhold Ewald: “For a mission to Mars, research is still needed in many areas. How, for example, do the vitamins in astronaut food change when exposed to space radiation for a long time? As an astronaut, I would only get into the rocket if all the biological and physiochemical systems had been tested under conditions that were as real as possible on earth. It seems that this will be possible with FAIR,” said Ewald, who is also a professor at the Institute of Space Systems at the University of Stuttgart.

The speakers included Professor Gerhard Kraft, who introduced carbon ion therapy in Europe and founded the Biophysics Department at GSI; Professor Thomas Haberer, scientific and technical director at the Heidelberg Ion Beam Therapy Center (HIT); and Professor Jürgen Debus, medical director of the Department of Radiation Oncology and Radiation Therapy and Scientific-medical manager at HIT. “We want to continue the long-term cooperation with GSI also in regards of FAIR research,” said Debus. “Both biophysics and accelerator physics offer new technologies that are of interest for clinical application. The large and international response to the first meeting of the International Biophysics Collaboration demonstrates the potential of biomedical applications of ion beams and speaks in favor of the new collaboration.”

The international guests saw the meeting as a chance for new ideas and cooperation. Prof. Vincenzo Patera from the University of Rome, elected spokesperson of the Collaboration,  said: “In the field of biophysics we need a comprehensive network to facilitate the exchange of information, the joint application for funding and to offer more flexibility for students. In that regard the International Biophysics Collaboration could play an important role and could improve the coordination of the various smaller research groups.”

The collaboration is supposed to support the cooperation beyond FAIR and to include experiments at other new accelerator facilities (NICA, RAON, FRIB, SPIRAL2, SPES, SEEIIST, ELI). Dr. Sanja Damjanovic, Minister of Science of Montenegro, presented one of the newly planned facilities during the conference, the South East European International Institute for Sustainable Technologies (SEEIIST): „SEEIIST is a facility for tumor therapy and biomedical research which is supposed to be equally used for patient treatment and for research. Our aim is offering a regional possibility for excellent research to students and scientists of all countries from Slovenia to Greece.”  

The meeting of the International Biophysics Collaboration is planned to take place regularly in the future. (LW)

More information:

Link to the paper on Physics Reports: Durante M., Golubev A., Park W.-Y., Trautmann C., Applied nuclear physics at the new high-energy particle accelerator facilities. Phys. Rep. 800 (2919) 1-38