Dr. rer. nat. Karl Heinz Höhne ......................................................................................................... .German

Professor and Director Emeritus
Institute of Medical Informatics
University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf

c/o VOXEL-MAN Group
House W 26, Martinistraße 52,
20246 Hamburg, Germany

Phone: + 49 (40) 7410-54831
e-mail: hoehne@uke.de

Curriculum vitae



Scientific Biography

From the beginning, all of Höhne's scientific work was devoted to the acquisition, processing and visualization of images by computers. As early as his doctoral thesis in the field of elementary particle physics in 1967, he developed a device for digitizing and analyzing photographs of particle tracks taken by spark chambers [1].

While still a physicist at the German Electron Synchrotron DESY, he switched to computer applications in medicine in 1969. His first project was the development of a data processing system for the clinical laboratory, which brought the very first computer to the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.

His work in medical imaging began in 1972 with the analysis of scintigraphic image sequences. With his colleagues, he created complete hardware (including what is called a graphics card today) and software for quantifying blood circulation in organs such as the brain or the lungs. [2]. The novel system was in routine clinical use for five years.

Encouraged by this success, he again developed a system from scratch for the analysis of angiographic image sequences with the aim of quantifying blood flow [3]. The hardware for real-time video recording of 128 images with 256x256 pixels was unprecedented at the time. In addition, the high-level software tools developed made the system easy to develop and use. While the software, e.g. a special language for image management [4], were ahead of their time, the clinical results were unsatisfactory, since X-ray images, despite the beauty of the functional images produced, did not allow sufficiently precise quantitative results.

In 1984 he and his co-workers (the "VOXEL-MAN team") began pioneering work in 3D visualization from cross-sectional images from CT and MRI. The grayscale gradient algorithm [5] published by him enabled the creation of realistic 3D surfaces from cross-sectional image sequences for the first time. The first virtual dissections of the created volume models from the MRI and the first realistic reconstruction of the brain of a living patient were highlights at the RSNA meetings in Chicago in 1986 [6] and 1987 [7]. The reconstruction of a 3D model of a beating heart from 4D MRI data at RSNA in 1988 was also unprecedented [8]. In 1990 the Höhne algorithm, which has become the standard for 3D rendering of volumetric image data in medicine, was implemented in the Siemens Magnetom tomograph.

Although the created images looked attractive, it was not certain that they reflected reality. Therefore, the VOXEL-MAN team carried out extensive refinements of their accuracy and suitability for various applications that are indispensable for serious applications [9, 10].

Since around 1990 a broad application of 3D imaging in clinical work was restricted by the unsolved segmentation problem, Höhne and his team focused on applications in training and simulation. He developed a framework for integrating anatomical and radiological image data with descriptive knowledge [11]. The ability to navigate back and forth in spatial and symbolic knowledge was first implemented in 1995 in the VOXEL-MAN brain and skull atlas as the first of its kind [16].

It turned out that the almost infinite possibilities to browse through the offered spatial and descriptive knowledge was overwhelming the learners. However, it was a perfect tool for creating interactive teaching material. In 1998 the VOXEL-Man 3D Navigator Brain and Skull (formerly VOXEL-MAN Junior) was developed and published by Springer (now available for free download).

When the Visible Human Data Set with its 1871 photographic and CT cross-sections was available in 1996, Höhne and his team expanded the 3D rendering algorithms to include color image data. The algorithms developed created 3D models of unprecedented realism are still state of the art [12]. On their basis the VOXEL-MAN Navigator interactive atlas of the anatomy and radiology of the inner organs was developed and published in 2000 by Springer (now available for free download).



The value of 3D volume models was increased significantly when the VOXEL-MAN team developed algorithms for material removal in combination with haptic feedback [13]. On this basis, the first prototype of a simulator for middle ear surgery was presented in 2003. As the first of its kind it became in 2005 a commercial product.. VOXEL-MAN simulators for sinus surgery and tooth drilling followed. All three are marketed worldwide by the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf [15].


The new images from VOXEL-MAN also became an attraction beyond medicine. In 1994 they were the focus of the exhibition "Le Corps Virtuel" [18] at the Center Pompidou in Paris.

In 1989, Höhne created the first realistic 3D reconstructions of a mummy's head with the Institute for Egyptology at the University of Hamburg. The web presentation "The Virtual Mummy" [14] was the most visited around 2000 at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.

Because of their graphic quality beyond medicine, images from the VOXEL-MAN project became part of the SIGGGRAPH technical slide set in 1992.

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of X-rays, the VOXEL-Man team created the animation "Professor Roentgen meets the Virtual Body" [19], which illustrates the history from X-rays to virtual body models - completely computed with the VOXEL-MAN software.

In 2000, in cooperation with the Veterinary Clinic of the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, the VOXEL-MAN concept was transferred to the Visible Animal Project [15]

Hoehne also created compositions based on Leonardo da Vinci's famous drawings, which were featured on a poster at the Medicine Meets Virtual Reality Conference 2008. Many magazines used pictures created in the VOXEL-MAN project as cover pages.

Activities in Academia

Höhne supervised a large number of PhD and medical doctoral theses in the field of medical image computing both at the medical faculty and at the computer science department at the University of Hamburg.

In addition to teaching and scientific work, Höhne was also active in the organization of science communication in his field. As early as 1981 he organized the International Meeting Digital Imaging in Medicine. He ran the NATO Advanced Study Institutes Pictorial Information Systems in Medicine (1984) and 3D Imaging in Medicine (1990). In 1996 he organized the 4th Conference on Visualization in Biomedical Computing (VBC).

He is one of the founders of the Society for Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention (MICCAI), was a long-time board member and is a fellow of the society. After his retirement he served the MICCAI for several years as organizer of the annual MICCAI student award and as honorary election officer.

He has retired from his duties as Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging and as a member of the editorial boards of several international scientific journals.

Since 2004 the Visual Computing in Biology and Medicine group of the German Society for Informatics (GI) has been awarding the Karl Heinz Höhne Award every two years for outstanding work in the field of visual computing in biology and medicine.

In 2020, Höhne received the MICCAI Enduring Impact Award for his work.


List of publications (since 1985)

Selected Publications

  a     [1] U Becker, K Dahlmann, K Hoehne, J Weber, JH Smith
AUTOMATIC PROCESSING OF SPARK CHAMBER PICTURES AT DESY. International Conference on Programming for Flying Spot Devices (1967) 24-32

[9] Karl Heinz Höhne, Martin Riemer, Ulf Tiede: Viewing operations for 3D-tomographic gray level data. In Heinz U. Lemke et al. (eds.): Computer Assisted Radiology, Proc. CAR '87, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1987, 599-609.

Karl Heinz Höhne, Robert L. DeLaPaz, Ralph Bernstein, Robert C. Taylor: Combined surface display and reformatting for the 3D-analysis of tomographic data. Invest. Radiol. 22 (1987), 658-664.

  s     [2] W Ebenritter, KH Höhne
Display controller for the interactive analysis of scintigrams with a PDP-8 computer Kerntechnik, 15, 3 /1973) 499-502
KH Höhne, G Pfeiffer
The Role of the Physician-Computer Interaction Interpretation of Scintigraphic Data
Methods of information in medicine 13 (02), 65-70
  d   [10] Ulf Tiede, Karl Heinz Höhne, Michael Bomans, Andreas Pommert, Martin Riemer, Gunnar Wiebecke: Investigation of medical 3D-rendering algorithms. IEEE Comput. Graphics Appl. 10, 2 (1990), 41-53.  
  d     [3] GC Nicolae, KH Höhne
Multiprocessor system for real time digital processing of video image series
it - Information Technology 21,4 (1979)171-183

KH Höhne, M Böhm, W Erbe, GC Nicolae, G Pfeiffer, B Sonne
Computer angiography: a new tool for x-ray functional diagnostics Sonne Medical progress through technology 6, 1 ( 1978), 23-28

[11] Karl Heinz Höhne, Bernhard Pflesser, Andreas Pommert, Martin Riemer, Thomas Schiemann, Rainer Schubert, Ulf Tiede: A new representation of knowledge concerning human anatomy and function . Nature Med. 1, 6 (1995), 506-511.

Ulf Tiede, Michael Bomans, Karl Heinz Höhne, Andreas Pommert, Martin Riemer, Thomas Schiemann, Rainer Schubert, Werner Lierse: A computerized three-dimensional atlas of the human skull and brain. Am. J. Neuroradiology 14, 3 (1993), 551-559.

Dale A. Charletta: A Computerized Three-Dimensional Atlas of the Human Skull and Brain. American Journal of Neuroradiology 14 (3) (1993) 560-561 (Commentary)


[4] K Assmann, R Venema, KH Höhne
The ISQL Language
(Shi-Kuo Chang Ed.)Visual Languages, (1986) 261-284


[12] Ulf Tiede, Thomas Schiemann, Karl Heinz Höhne: High quality rendering of attributed volume data . In David Ebert et al. (eds.): Proc. IEEE Visualization '98. Research Triangle Park, NC, 1998, 255-262. (ISBN 0-8186-9176-X).

Thomas Schiemann, Ulf Tiede, Karl Heinz Höhne: Segmentation of the Visible Human for high quality volume based visualization . Med. Image Anal. 1, 4 (1997), 263-271.


[5] Karl Heinz Höhne, Ralph Bernstein: Shading 3D-images from CT using gray level gradients . IEEE Trans. Med. Imaging 5, 1 (1986), 45-47.

Karl Heinz Höhne, Ralph Bernstein: Correction to "Shading 3D-images from CT using gray level gradients " . IEEE Trans. Med. Imaging 5, 3 (1986), 165.


[13] Bernhard Pflesser, Andreas Petersik, Ulf Tiede, Karl Heinz Höhne, Rudolf Leuwer: Volume cutting for virtual petrous bone surgery. Comput. Aided Surg. 7, 2 (2002), 74-83.

Andreas Petersik, Bernhard Pflesser, Ulf Tiede, Karl Heinz Höhne, Rudolf Leuwer: Realistic haptic interaction in volume sculpting for surgery simulation . In Nicholas Ayache, Hervé Delingette (eds.): Surgery Simulation and Soft Tissue Modeling, Proc. IS4TM 2003, Lect. Notes Comput. Sci. 2673, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2003, 194-202.

        [6] Karl Heinz Höhne, Martin Riemer, Ulf Tiede, Martin Heller, Gerd Witte: Three-dimensional investigation of tomographic volumes (CT and MR). Radiology 161, P (1986), 378. (Abstract, exhibit at RSNA 1986), Poster      

[14] Andreas Pommert: Dreidimensionale Darstellung altägyptischer Mumien aus computertomographischen Bildfolgen. In Rosemarie Drenkhahn, Renate Germer (Hrsg.): Mumie und Computer, Kestner-Museum, Hannover, 1991, 19-20.

Karl Heinz Höhne: Virtual Mummies: Unwrapped by the click of a mouse. In Renate Germer (ed.): Mummies: Life after death in ancient Egypt, Prestel, München, 1997, 118-120. (see also The Virtual Mummy )

        [7] Karl Heinz Höhne, Ulf Tiede, Martin Riemer, Michael Bomans, Martin Heller, Gerd Witte: Static and dynamic three-dimensional display of tissue structures from volume scans. Radiology 165, P (1987), 420. (Abstract, exhibit at RSNA 1987), Poster   s   [15] Peter Böttcher, Johann Maierl, Thomas Schiemann, Cristian Glaser, Renate Weller, Karl Heinz Höhne, Maximilian Reiser, Hans-Georg Liebich: The Visible Animal Project: A three-dimensional digital database for high quality three-dimensional reconstructions . Vet. Radiol. Ultrasound 40, 6 (1999), 611-616.  
      [8] Karl Heinz Höhne, Michael Bomans, Andreas Pommert, Martin Riemer, Ulf Tiede, Gerd Witte: Dynamic three-dimensional display of the beating heart from four-dimensional MR imaging data. Radiology 169, P (1988), 472. (Abstract, exhibit at RSNA 1988).       .  

[16] Karl Heinz Höhne et al. VOXEL-MAN Brain and Skull The novel Hypermedia system for UNIX workstations, Springer 1995, ISBN3-540-1417-6 (Movie).

Karl Heinz Höhne et al. VOXEL-MAN Junior Brain and Skull, Anatomy and Radiology in Virtual Reality Scenes, Springer 1998, ISBN 3-540-14676-8..

Karl Heinz Höhne et al. VOXEL-MAN Navigator Inner Organs, Regional, Systemic and Radiological Anatomy, Springer 2000, ISBN 3-540-14759-4 (download)

Karl Heinz Höhne et al. VOXEL-MAN Navigator Brain and Skull, Regional, Functional and Radiological Anatomy, Springer 2001, ISBN3-540-14910-4, 2009, ISBN 978-3-642-01211-2. (download)

Karl Heinz Höhne et al. VOXEL-MAN Navigator Brain and Skull, Regional, Functional and Radiological Anatomy, 2000, ISBN 7-980042-10-7 (Chinese version)

Karl Heinz Höhne et al. VOXEL-MAN Navigator Upper Limb, Regional and Radiological Anatomy, Springer 2008, ISBN 978-3-540-21010-8.




c .

VOXEL-MAN ENT (Temporal Bone, Sinus)
Temporal Bone and Sinus Surgery Simulator


Dental Training Simulator

x Eike Burmester, Thomas Leineweber, Silke Hacker, Ulf Tiede: EUS meets VOXEL-MAN - – ein virtuelles Trainingsprogramm für den endoskopischen longitudinalen Ultraschall, Hitachi Medical Systems, Wiesbaden, 2007. (DVD, ISBN 978-3-00-019545-7).
  For the general public
  d     [18]
"Le corps virtuel", Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (1994)
Article in "Le Monde"
  s [20] "VOXEL-MAN - the Virtual Patient", a presentation summarizing the achievements of the VOXEL-MAN project (1970-today)  
  s     [19] "Professor Roentgen Meets the Virtual Body", a movie animated with the VOXEL-MAN system, created at the occasion of the 100th anniversary of X-ray discovery (1994)..   a

The Virtual Mummy, investigating the reconstruction of the head of a 2,300-year-old mummy by mouse click (1989-1997).