Biophysics News

Here you can find recent information from our staff and around our work.


Innovative vaccine development with heavy ion beams: Scientists from GSI and HZI jointly investigate new method

Researching new vaccines quickly and powerfully for the benefit of humanity — the COVID-19 pandemic rendered clear the need for effective and rapid vaccine development processes. Scientists from the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig investigated an innovative method that has the potential to increase significantly the effectiveness of future vaccine development. This approach uses heavy ion beams to inactivate viruses and thus represents a promising alternative to conventional inactivation methods, which often impair the effectiveness of vaccines. The results were recently published in the scientific journal “Pharmaceutics” and are attracting great interest in the scientific community. More


Hope or hype: can upright treatment increase access to advanced radiotherapy?

Upright radiotherapy, in which a patient is treated in an upright position rather than lying down (supine), is an old technique that’s seen a resurgence of interest recently. At the ESTRO 2024 meeting, experts in the field discussed the potential benefits and ongoing challenges of upright radiotherapy – in a quest to discover whether the approach offers hope or is merely hype.More


Joining forces for cancer research: TRON and GSI/FAIR study combination of heavy ion therapy and mRNA vaccine (GSI/FAIR press release)

It could be a new, promising combination of two therapeutic approaches and a key to better combating advanced-stage cancer. Two strong partners have joined forces to explore this possibility: The biopharmaceutical and translational research institute TRON in Mainz with its highly specialized oncology research and the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt with its worldwide unique accelerator facilities and the cancer therapy with ion beams developed here. Researchers from…Read more


On 6 – 7 March 2024, the first Program Advisory Committee meeting took place at the Institute for Rare Isotope Science (IRIS) at the RAON facility located in Daejeon (Republic of Korea). Dr Charlot Vandevoorde,group leader Space Radiobiology in the Biophysics Department at GSI/FAIR, serves the committee as expert on biomedical and applied nuclear physics experiments. This nomination strengthens the collaboration between our two institutes.The first call for proposals targeted domestic users and garnered significant interest, with 30 research proposals submitted. The event marked a major milestone for the new facility, whose construction commenced in 2011. In the initial phase, low-energy stable beams of Ne-20 and Ar-40 (~20 MeV/u) along with proton beams of 40 and 70 MeV will be available for experimentation in 2024.

We extend our congratulations to Managing Director Dr Hong Seung-Woo and his team for this very successful first PAC meeting. We eagerly anticipate the outcomes of the approved proposals, which promise to contribute significantly to advancing our field of applied nuclear physics research.


Fighting liver and lung cancer with heavy ion therapy / New methods for treating moving tumors (GSI/FAIR press release)

The first patients were treated with heavy ions 25 years ago – whereas therapy was long limited to the head and pelvis, today tumors in the upper body, for example in the lungs, liver and pancreas, can also be treated, even though they are constantly in motion due to breathing. Some methods are already in clinical routine, other developments from the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung offer new hopes and opportunities for cancer treatment.


New paper on modelling radiation-induced fibrositis discussed on PhysicsWorld 


New computer model of lung tissue could herald safer radiotherapy for cancer. GSI/FAIR Press release (This news is based on an press release of the University of Surrey)

An innovative computer model of a human lung is helping scientists simulate, for the first time, how a burst of radiation interacts with the organ on a cell-by-cell level. This research, carried out at the University of Surrey and the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung, Darmstadt, could lead to more targeted treatments for cancer and reduce the damage caused by radiotherapy.


Federal Minister of Environment Steffi  Lemke has nominated Professor Claudia Fournier as Deputy Chair of the Commission on Radiological Protection for the year 2024. More (German only)


Ms Esther Schickel received the award for the best talk at the Bioscience Symposium at the Technical University of Darmstadt on 8 November 2023.


European Union grants millions to GSI research project on tumor therapy: Prestigious ERC award for Professor Christian Graeff from Biophysics(GSI/FAIR press  release)

Professor Christian Graeff from GSI’s Biophysics Department has been awarded the highly sought-after Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). The prestigious research funding award supports a project to improve tumor therapy with a funding sum in the millions. Christian Graeff will lead this research project as principal investigator and conduct it with a corresponding team. The renowned prize also underlines the outstanding quality of scientific research at GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung and the future accelerator center FAIR.


Memorial colloquium and award ceremony: Honoring the memory of Professor Gerhard Kraft - Three young researchers receive the Christoph Schmelzer Prize(GSI/FAIR press  release)

It was both a tribute to an exceptional lifetime achievement and an encouragement for the next generation of scientists: With a solemn memorial colloquium held at the GSI/FAIR campus in Darmstadt, the GSI Biophysics department paid homage to biophysics Professor Gerhard Kraft, who passed away in March 2023. This event was combined with the annual awarding of the Christoph Schmelzer Prize to three young scientists. The prize was awarded to Dr. Jonathan Berthold from the Technical University of Dresden and Dr. Vivek Maradia from ETH Zurich for their doctoral theses, and to Luisa Schweins from the University of Heidelberg for her master's thesis.


Ms Annika Hinrichs and Ms Anastasiia Quarz received the "Giersch Excellent Award 2023" on 30.10.2023 from the HGSHire Graduate School for their outstanding scientific work in the past years.


Dr. Lennart Volz of GSI’s Biophysics Department honored with Otto Haxel Award (GSI/FAIR press release)

Dr. Lennart Volz from the GSI Department of Biophysics has received the Otto Haxel Award for Physics. He received the prize for his dissertation on "Particle imaging for daily in-room image guidance in particle therapy". The award ceremony took place at the KFG summer event in Karlsruhe, organized by the "KIT Freundeskreis und Fördergesellschaft e.V.".


Prestigious honor for Professor Marco Durante: Kaplan Prize for outstanding achievements in radiation research(GSI/FAIR press release)

Professor Marco Durante, head of GSI's Biophysics Research Department and professor at the Department of Physics at TU Darmstadt, has been awarded the prestigious Henry Kaplan Prize by the International Association of Radiation Research (IARR). The award is considered the top radiation research award. Professor Durante received the award at the International Congress of Radiation Research (ICRR) 2023 in Montreal, Canada, in August...


25 years of tumor therapy: Precise weapons in the fight against cancer(GSI/FAIR press release)

It was the starting point of a success story and is an outstanding example of successful technology transfer: 25 years ago, clinical studies of an innovative cancer treatment using accelerated carbon ions started at GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung. In August and September 1998, the first patients were treated with a complete course of carbon therapy for a period of three weeks. In the following years, the path led from fundamental research to a widespread medical application. As a pioneer of heavy ion therapy in Europe, GSI has become a central research center in this field today.


Joint Summer School: ESA and FAIR offer high-quality training for cosmic radiation research(GSI/FAIR press release)

A high-quality training offer, an international surrounding, and a unique expertise: The "ESA FAIR Radiation Summer School 2023" has become a constant and has attracted large attention from the international community. Currently 15 young researchers from ten countries are coming together for the “ESA-FAIR Radiation Summer School 2023” to deal intensively with the topic of cosmic radiation.  The Summer School for radiation research was jointly established by the European Space Agency ESA and the international accelerator center FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research GmbH), currently being built at GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung.


Outstanding scientific achievements: Dr. Francesca Luoni of GSI’s Biophysics Department receives award from the association “Freunde der TU Darmstadt" (GSI/FAIR press release)

Dr. Francesca Luoni from the GSI Department of Biophysics was honored with the “Prize for outstanding scientific achievements” of the association “Freunde der Technische Universität zu Darmstadt e.V.”. She received the award for her PhD thesis on “Radiation Shielding during Deep-Space Missions: Dose Measurements, Monte Carlo Simulations, and Nuclear Cross-Sections”. The award ceremony took place at the spring festival of the TU Friends in the guest house of the TU Darmstadt.


Masterclass on tumor therapy — High-school students learn treatment planning (GSI/FAIR press release)

On site at GSI/FAIR, 24 interested high-school students were given the opportunity to learn more about tumor therapy with ion beams during a Masterclass in March. The event was hosted by scientists of the Biophysics research department at GSI/FAIR.All Particle Therapy Masterclasses (PTMCs) are coordinated by GSI/FAIR in the framework of the International Masterclasses of the IPPOG (International Particle Physics Outreach Group), of which GSI is an associate member. More


Successful cooperation: ESA investigators’ meeting at GSI/FAIR on the new IBPER-22 experimental program (GSI/FAIR press release)

Increasing the safety of astronauts in space and advancing modern research for the benefit of mankind: These goals are the focus of the successful cooperation between the European Space Agency ESA and GSI/FAIR in several research projects. GSI/FAIR is the European facility selected by ESA to study cosmic radiation and its effects on humans, electronics and materials. This includes the research program for "Investigations into Biological and Physical Effects of Radiation (IBPER)", which is currently entering a new phase. The project enables research groups to study biological and physical effects of space radiation at the GSI/FAIR accelerator facilities. Recently, an ESA research meeting was held on the GSI/FAIR campus as part of IBPER....More


HEARTS innovates to foster European access to space (GSI/FAIR press release)




Obituary of Professor Dr. Gerhard Kraft (29.10.1941-18.03.2023)


Ph.D. Biophysics day, March 9-10, 2023


Hibernation  We research. You benefit.


GSI in one of the 10 breakthroughs of 2022: Investigating new weapons in the fight against cancer (GSI/FAIR press release)

It could become a powerful weapon in the fight against cancer and open up completely new possibilities for tumor therapy with charged particles. FLASH irradiation – the application of an ultra-high radiation dose in a very short time – is in strong focus worldwide and is being advanced with high expertise at GSI and FAIR. FLASH clinical implementation is one of the top 10 Breakthroughs of the Year 2022 according to “Physics Word”. In its December issue, the world’s leading high-impact journal…Read more


The paper "A 3D Agent-Based Model of Lung Fibrosis" by Cogno et al. has been selected as Editor’s choice in the MDPI journal Symmetry.