On Monday, five young scientists were honoured in Vienna for their internationally outstanding work: The Life Science Research Awards Austria 2022 of the Austrian Society of Molecular Life Sciences and Biotechnology (ÖGMBT) went to Pia Gattinger (MedUni Vienna), Bernardo Almeida (IMP) and Peter Peneder from St. Anna Children's Cancer Research. The prizes, each worth 3,000 euros, were awarded with the support of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Economic Affairs. Maximilian Schneider (IMBA) and Martin Wilkovitsch (IAS of TU Wien) received the Life Science PhD Award Austria for their dissertations.
In the category of basic research, the Life Science Research Award 2022 goes to Bernardo Almeida in the lab of Alexander Stark at the IMP - Research Institute for Molecular Pathology, Vienna.
Better understanding of how genes are switched on and off
In his paper published in Nature Genetics, Bernardo Almeida describes a deep-learning software model to predict the activity of regulatory elements in genes. The DeepSTARR algorithm proved to be exceptionally accurate in its prediction. The findings from this publication and the algorithm presented help to better understand gene regulation.
Understanding the regulation of genes remains a major challenge in the life sciences. The switching on and off of about 20,000 genes is mainly regulated by DNA sequences. This is important to predict the effects of genetic variability, but also to develop regulatory elements needed for biotechnology and gene therapy applications in the future.
The three Life Science Research Awards were sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Labour and Economy. "The Life Science Research Awards support excellent young scientists. Research and development are central factors for Austria's competitiveness and secure high-quality jobs," said Minister of Labour and Economy Martin Kocher.
Vaccine for long immunity against SARS-CoV-2 and hepatitis B
Pia Gattinger from the Department of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research at the Medical University of Vienna received the Life Science Research Award 2022 in the category of applied research. Her publication "Vaccine based on folded RBD-PreS fusion protein with potential to induce sterilizing immunity to SARS-CoV-2 variants" in the renowned scientific journal Allergy describes the development of a combined vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 and hepatitis B (HBV). Together with her colleagues, Pia Gattinger was able to show that this vaccine, based on fused components of SARS-CoV-2 and HBV, leads to long-lasting immunity against SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, this vaccine could also protect people with a compromised immune system against COVID-19 and thus could help to curb further outbreaks of the pandemic.
New sensitive method for detecting cancer in children
The ÖGMBT Award 2022 for Excellence and Societal Impact, awarded for the fourth time in 2022, was presented to Peter Peneder of St. Anna Children's Cancer Research. The publication he submitted, "Multimodal analysis of cell-free DNA whole-genome sequencing for pediatric cancers with low mutational burden" in the renowned scientific journal Nature Communications, describes a novel method for the sensitive detection and high-resolution classification of tumours in children.
This method is based on the recognition of specific molecular signatures in cell-free tumour DNA found in the blood of young people suffering from cancer. It could be used instead of surgical removal of of tumour tissue biopsies. The method is therefore only minimally stressful for the young patients and could bring precision medicine into the clinical treatment of childhood cancer.
PhD Award for Investigation of the Main Components of Chromosomes
In his PhD thesis, Maximilian Schneider investigated the key constituents of chromosomes and features of chromatin. He found out that the condensation of the chromatin volume during mitosis is independent of the reorganisation of the chromatin fibres. The dissertation not only answers open questions in this field of molecular biology, but goes beyond it, as evidenced by four outstanding publications. New fundamental findings addressed in his work could be a starting point to re-evaluate the function of histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) as anti-cancer agents. "With this work, Maximilian Schneider has demonstrated remarkable knowledge in the field and excellent skills in the laboratory," was the jury's verdict.
PhD Award for Labelling of Biomolecules
Martin Wilkovitsch carried out his PhD theses entitled: "Faster, Higher, Stronger: Molecular Tools for Ultra-Efficient Bioorthogonal Chemistry" at the Vienna University of Technology, Institute of Applied Synthetic Chemistry. The topic of his thesis was biorthogonal chemistry, which refers to any chemical reaction that can occur inside of living systems without interfering with native biochemical processes. During his PhD thesis, he developed next-level chemical tools and reactions, which have great potential to be used in biomedicine including diagnostic and targeted drug delivery and allow novel medical strategies and applications in life sciences. His outstanding achievements resulted in 13 research publications, among them 10 are already published in high-impact journals. Noteworthy is the article in Nature Technology, published in June 2022.
14 years of ÖGMBT: Conference as Austria's most important life science event
ÖGMBT President Prof. Dr. Lukas Huber at the 14th annual meeting, which this time took place in Vienna: "The ÖGMBT represents 1,300 people and students working in the life sciences as well as 60 companies and institutions. The Life Science Research Awards Austria once again impressively show the high international level of researchers in Austria. On behalf of the ÖGMBT, I would like to express my special thanks to our long-standing supporters BMAW, THP Medical Products and Polymun Scientific, who make these awards possible."
We congratulate all Award Winners!!
The promotion of young scientists is one of the ÖGMBT’s main goals.
Regularly awarding scientific prizes is an important measure to support early-stage researchers. Additionally, these awards highlight the excellence in the Austrian research landscape and increase the visibility of exceptional life sciences topics in the public.
Life Science Awards Austria
Each year, the ÖGMBT initiates a unique nationwide search in order to find the brightest young researchers in the Life Sciences field across all of Austria.
There are different award categories available:
- Basic Science (1 Prize à € 3.000.-)
- Applied Research (1 Prize à € 3.000.-)
- Excellence & Societal Impact (1 Prize à € 3.000.-) This is a special prize bestowed among all applicants for basic science and applied research awards and who can convince the jury with a meaningful presentation of the possible social impact of their work.
- Basic Science (1 Prize à € 1.000.-)
- Applied Research (1 Prize à € 1.000.-)
The award ceremony takes place at the ÖGMBT Annual Meeting where the awardees have the unique chance of presenting their winning work in front of the who-is-who of the Austrian Life Sciences scene.
Find out detailed information and current deadlines by clicking on the respective award link.
Application made easy
To support the submission process we have implemented an online application tool which is available to all applicants.
Spread the word! - Download and distribute the banners & poster
In the online flipbook “ÖGMBT Life Science Awards Austria – Success Stories 2010-2020” you will find portraits of all the winners of the past decade.
Best Talk and Best Poster Awards at the Annual Meeting:
Out of all talks and poster presentations at the ÖGMBT’s Annual Meeting, several prizes for the Best Talk and Best Poster are awarded to young scientists each year. Click on the respective link for more information about these awards.
Österreichische Gesellschaft für Molekulare Biowissenschaften und Biotechnologie
Mag. Andrea Bauer
Marxbox, Vienna BioCenter
Stiege 02, EG L.01
+43 676 3611978