MedUni Vienna: Jürgen Knoblich appointed Chair in Synthetic Biology at MedUni Vienna

Molecular biologist is expert in neuronal stem cells studying the development of the human brain

Jürgen Knoblich takes up a Chair in Synthetic Biology at MedUni Vienna on 01 April 2021. Knoblich is Scientific Director of the IMBA – Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He is a molecular biologist and his main scientific focus is the biology of neuronal stem cells.

Jürgen Knoblich's research relates to brain development and the genetic causes of neurodevelopmental diseases. His research group successfully generated tissue cultures from human stem cells that can simulate the development of the brain. The cultures are made from stem cells obtained from blood samples of individual patients. The technique has allowed them to recapitulate diseases such as microcephaly and tuberous sclerosis. The primary aim of Knoblich and his synthetic biology team at MedUni Vienna will be to create further disease models with the aim of producing cell culture models for researching mechanisms and testing drugs.

Jürgen Knoblich, born in Memmingen (Germany) in 1963, has been working as Senior Scientist at the IMBA since 2004 and took over the management of the IMBA as Scientific Director in 2018. After studying biochemistry at the University of Tübingen and molecular biology at University College London, he first of all went to work for the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, transferring to the Friedrich Miescher Laboratory of the Max Planck Society in 1990. From 1994 until 1997, he worked as EMBO and Howard Hughes Medical Institute postdoctoral fellow at the University of California San Francisco in the laboratory of Lily and Yuh Nung Jan. In September 1997, he returned to Europe as group leader at the Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP).

His work won him the Wittgenstein Prize in 2009, an ERC Senior Grant in 2010 and 2016, the Austrian Academy of Sciences' Erwin Schrödinger Prize in 2012 and the Hans Krebs Medal in 2015. Jürgen Knoblich is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), Academia Europaea, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Board of Directors of the ISSCR (International Society for Stem Cell Research) and the EMBO Council. 

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