First Mayor of Hamburg Olaf Scholz and Second Mayor as well as Senator of Science and Research Dr. Dorothee Stapelfeld visited the Bahrenfeld Campus to get a picture of the stage of research achieved within The Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging (CUI). It was important for the Mayor to hear about the relation between theory and application and to ask “the one question politicians always ask: what do you expect being the next scientific breakthrough?”
However, at first the Mayor and the Senator found themselves facing a special challenge: the Beamwalk-Battle, a laser game in which a mirror needs to be adjusted very quickly and exactly. Under a big applause of the audience, they competed against each other – until after a few seconds the acoustic signal of the winner could be heard from the Mayor’s side of the table. After the informal game, the scientific part started: The agenda of the information visit included introductory talks to research, structure and organization of the cluster. Afterwards the delegation got some insight into several labs in the Centre for Optical Quantum Technologies (ZOQ) and in the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL). All together, CUI comprises 22 research projects and 53 research groups; four labs plus the school lab of “Light & Schools” had opened their doors for the visit.
“We have only just initiated next generation research”, CUI-spokesperson Prof. Dr. Klaus Sengstock summarized the research project in a few words, but the chances for Hamburg are very high to be at the forefront nationally as well as internationally. Competitors are to be found in Stanford – where scientists from Hamburg already now are using most of the beam time – as well as in Boston and Munich. In comparison, CUI is very well positioned and offers a unique constellation that enables a combination of fundamental research and application.
Co-speaker Prof. Dr. Horst Weller illustrated this combination by using the example of the sleeping sickness: Prof. Dr. Henry Chapman and his team identified an enzyme of the disease agent and then provided an exact structural analysis. This determination reveals the structural plan which the pharmaceutical industry needs for designing drugs.
Thanks to a close link with the Centre for Structural Systems Biology, a worldwide unique centre for for pathogen research on the Bahrenfeld Campus which will enter into operation in 2016, the biological and the medical research will be strengthened even more, Prof, Sengstock confirmed. At the moment the main focus is on multidisciplinarity and on finding a common language for physics, chemistry, biology and medicine. Prof. Sengstock: “This is already a daily reality, but certainly a big challenge.”