Prof. Oliver Röhrle, Director of the Institute for Modeling and Simulation of Biomechanical Systems at the University of Stuttgart and PI in the Cluster of Excellence, has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant by the European Research Council. The grant, endowed with almost 3.5 million euros, is one of the most prestigious research awards worldwide. In his project "qMOTION" (Simulation-enhanced Highdensity Magneto-myographic Quantum Sensor Systems for Decoding Neuromuscular Control During), Prof. Röhrle wants to use quantum technologies to decode neuromuscular control during movement and has already been awarded the second ERC grant and an ERC proof-of-concept grant.
Muscles not only get living things moving, they can also serve as an interface between the brain and the environment. As such, they offer a view into the brain, for example, to study muscle control. If these neuromuscular signals could be decoded, this would open up completely new opportunities in diagnosis and treatment in medicine, as well as enabling new methods for training and rehabilitation. However, this requires entirely new approaches.
"For example, we need technologies that simultaneously capture information about the muscle's recruitment patterns and functional state," explains Prof. Oliver Röhrle, Director at the Institute for Modeling and Simulation of Biomechanical Systems and Principal Investigator in the Cluster of Excellence Data-Integrated Simulation Science (SimTech) at the University of Stuttgart. "This is also exactly the vision of qMOTION, which is to precisely and non-invasively decode the neuronal activation of skeletal muscles using quantum sensors and data-driven simulation approaches."
Until now, the human neuromuscular system has been studied by measuring and processing the electrical potential of the muscle. However, this has the disadvantage that due to the electrical properties of the body, the signal is "distorted" and it is difficult to identify and separate the up to 1000 sources of such potentials. Magnetic fields, on the other hand, penetrate biological tissue without changing shape. However, measuring the magnetic field requires highly sensitive magnetometers. These are available for the first time with the new quantum sensor technologies. "qMOTION paves the way for a completely new field of research," Röhrle is optimistic.
In qMOTION, the researchers will use commercially available magnetometers. Initial studies show that the study of the magnetic field is a promising option, especially if a so-called high-density magnetomyographic (HD-MMG) measurement system exists, i.e., a measurement system consisting of a grid-like array of up to 100 sensors.
The focus of qMOTION is to build a HD-MMG measurement system for decoding neuromuscular activity during movement. The latter is only possible because HD-MMG data are also suitable to develop novel functional imaging methods. Röhrle's interdisciplinary background with his research areas in applied mathematics and biomechanics is an excellent basis for the project. With the Cluster of Excellence SimTech and the Future Cluster "Quantum Sensors of the Future" (QSens), the University of Stuttgart also has an ideal environment for this innovative research.
About the ERC Advanced Grants
European Research Council projects and grants are divided into categories: ERC Starting Grants, ERC Consolidator Grants, ERC Advanced Grants and ERC Synergy Grants. ERC Advanced Grants are among the most prestigious research awards in the world and are aimed at established researchers with an outstanding scientific track record. Currently, 12 ongoing ERC grants are located at the University of Stuttgart, five of which are Advanced Grants.
Prof. Dr. Oliver Röhrle, Universität Stuttgart, Institut für Modellierung und Simulation Biomechanischer Systeme/ Exzellenzcluster SimTech, Tel. +49 711 685 66284, E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org.