MFPL: Universities renew their cooperation agreement

Max F. Perutz, who studied at the University of Vienna and received his PhD from the University of Cambridge, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962 and founded a world-renowned research institute in Cambridge, gave his name to the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL). The MFPL, founded in 2005, are a joint venture of the University of Vienna and Medical University of Vienna at the Campus Vienna Biocenter. At the beginning of September, the rectors of both universities signed a new cooperation agreement, confirming the successful collaboration. This year, Max F. Perutz would have celebrated his 100th birthday. On this occasion the symposium “Crossing Frontiers in Life Sciences” will be held on 11th and 12th September at the University of Vienna.

The objective of the renewal of the cooperation agreement is the further development of the internationally renown research institute MFPL and honing its profile on the basis of its current research foci, as well as a greater emphasis of the combination of basis research in the field of Molecular Biology and medically relevant research questions. On the basis of this cooperation agreement and as an integral prerequisite of the achievement of objectives, the two universities will soon internationally advertise a joint professorship for Molecular Biology. This position is for the successor of Prof. Graham Warren, FRS, who will retire in 2016, the holder of the advertised position may also be considered as the joint scientific director of MFPL.
Heinz W. Engl, rector of the University of Vienna, congratulates: “I’m pleased about the success story of the MFPL, which we want to continue together with the Medical University of Vienna in the next years. As part of the Vienna Biocenter, the MFPL make an important contribution to one of the largest research clusters in Austria. In the future, the University of Vienna wants to be even more present on site through the relocation of the Faculty of Life Sciences. To be able to realize this and to strengthen the location, the federal government needs to make urgent investment decisions.” Wolfgang Schütz, Rector of the MedUni Vienna, considers the cooperation as a model of success: “Through the collaboration within the framework of the Max F. Perutz Laboratories, the two universities combine their potential and create an ideal environment for successful research. The internationality of the research groups also provides a great environment for young researchers to develop their career. I’m optimistic that this will ensure that research in Vienna remains at the top level.”
Founded in 2005, the MFPL today host on average 60 independent research groups and more than 500 people, working on basic research in the field of Molecular Biology. Every year, MFPL scientists teach around 700 Bachelor- and Master students in the field of Life Sciences. On the occasion of the 100th birthday of Perutz, the MFPL supported by their partner universities, hold the symposium “Crossing Frontiers in Life Sciences” on 11th and 12th September in the Festsaal area of the University of Vienna.
University of Vienna: Symposium "Crossing Frontiers in Life Sciences"
On Thursday, 11th and Friday, 12th September, 23 highly renowned scientists, 13 invited and 10 MFPL researchers, will present their latest findings and methods in the areas of Structural Biology, Cell Signaling, Bioinformatics, Chromosome Dynamics and RNA-Biology. Amongst them is Michael Rossmann, who worked with Perutz in Cambridge in the early 1960s. Rossmann developed the first computer programs to analyze Perutz’ X-ray crystallography data and predict protein structures. “We are very excited that great scientists such as Michael Rossmann, Tom Steitz, David Baulcombe, Richard Henderson and James Darnell are coming to Vienna for our symposium. It shows their appreciation of Perutz’s work, but also for the location as a hub of leading research in the field of Life Sciences”, explains Graham Warren, Scientific Director and Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Vienna.
Crystallographer Max F. Perutz

Tim Skern, structural biologist and group leader at the MFPL, as well as co-organizer of the symposium says: “Perutz set out to solve the X-ray structure of an at that time gigantic molecule. In the end, he and his colleague John Kendrew managed to do it by adding heavy mercury atoms into the hemoglobin molecule, which allowed them to solve the so-called phase problem, thus improving the possible resolution of protein structures several fold.” Reflecting on this and also that, for the first time, physical methods were used to explain biological mechanisms, the title of the symposium is “Crossing Frontiers in Life Sciences”.
More information on the biography of Max F. Perutz can be found at (in German):
International year of crystallography
2014 was declared the international year of crystallography by the United Nations. A century ago, 1914, was not only the year Max F. Perutz was born, but also the year in which German scientist Max von Laue was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the diffraction of X-rays by crystals which founded the basis for the X-ray crystallography methods also used by Perutz.
Crystallography at the University of Vienna
In acknowledgment of the international year of crystallography, the University of Vienna has a dossier highlighting where we find crystallography in our day-to-day life and what crystallographers at the University of Vienna and the MFPL work on. You can read more at (in German):
Crossing Frontiers in Life Sciences
Time: Thursday, 11th and Friday, 12th September 2014
Place: Festsäle of the University  of Vienna, Universitätsring 1, 1010 Vienna
More information at:

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