In the industrialized countries between one and two percent of the adult population suffer from severe weakness of the heart (heart failure). This means that in the EU up to 10 million people are affected. Patients with terminal heart failure receive a transplanted donor heart if possible (More about organ transplantation at the German Heart Institute Berlin.). Often, however, no suitable organ becomes available. Then the implantation of mechanical circulatory support systems (Ventricular Assist Devices, VAD) provides life-saving support of the pumping function of the failing heart.

Despite the great technical and medical progress that has been made in this area, the VADs currently on the market show disadvantages when they are used in the long term.
This is where the research for the Zurich Heart project starts.

The Project

Around 20 research groups from the German Heart Center Berlin, University Medicine Zurich (cooperation between Zurich University and the Zurich Technical University ETH) and the Zurich University Hospitals have joined forces to improve existing VAD technology and to research entirely new concepts for circulatory support systems.

These concepts include innovative components for contactless power transmission, improved surfaces to prevent embolism, highly efficient and adaptive regulation and sensor technology to optimize the pump output and flow, hyperelastic hybrid membranes and soft materials which approximate more closely to human physiology than the rigid systems used so far.

In the long term the consortium plans to develop a fundamentally new type of assist device.

The project is headed by Prof. Volkmar Falk, Medical Director of the German Heart Center Berlin, Prof. Dimos Poulikakos, Head of the Laboratory for Thermodynamics in New Technologies at the Institute for Energy Technology at the ETH Zurich, and Prof. Edoardo Mazza, Deputy Head of the Institute for Mechanical Systems at the ETH Zurich.

Lean more about the Zurich Heart project (in German).