Biomedical engineer and Cyber Valley research group leader Dr. Tian Qiu from the Institute of Physical Chemistry at the University of Stuttgart will receive one of the prestigious Starting Grants of the European Research Council (ERC) from January 2023. The funded project is called “VIBEBOT”, which is developing microrobots that can move through biological tissue and thus enable minimally invasive medical interventions.
How could drugs be used in the body in a more targeted way in the future? Biomedicine could provide an answer. Dr. Tian Qiu is researching tiny robots that travel through the human body. Tian Qiu and his team already succeeded in steering nanorobots through the dense tissue of an eyeball for minimally invasive drug delivery, which had never been achieved before.
In the “VIBEBOT” project, Qiu and his team are taking this approach further: They are going to build the first micro-sized robot that can actively propel and wirelessly sense in deep biological tissues. For the project, Qui was inspired by nature: “We know that worms, for example, can penetrate human skin to infect humans. Why can't we build a similar-sized robotic system that can penetrate soft tissue to treat disease?” Research on this holds enormous potential for future minimally invasive medicine, “such as targeted drug delivery for tumor therapy,” Qiu said.
Tian Qiu has been Cyber Valley research group leader for “Biomedical Microsystems” since 2019. The group is based at the Institute of Physical Chemistry at the University of Stuttgart. Previously, he studied mechanical and biomedical engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing, which is considered China's leading technical university. He came to Europe in 2012, earning a PhD in biotechnology and bioengineering at Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and conducting research at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS).
With the ERC Starting Grants, the European Research Council supports outstanding young scientists for innovative projects in basic research. The ERC evaluates the applications exclusively according to the criterion of scientific excellence. The research project “VIBEBOT” will receive funding of 1.5 million euros; the funding will run for five years. With the new grant, the University of Stuttgart is home to twelve active ERC grants, including six ERC Starting Grants (overview of scientists at the University of Stuttgart who have been awarded an ERC Grant). Two other Cyber Valley researchers were also awarded ERC Grants, an ERC Starting Grant and an ERC Consolidation Grant.
From researcher to founder
Scope of Cyber Valley research expanded to include intelligent biomedical microsystems