Researchers at IMBA – Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences – are partaking in three sought-after Special Research Programmes (SFBs).

The SFBs from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) are considered the “crown jewels” of FWF grants and are exclusively given out to a consortium of researchers with an outstanding international track record. The selection is highly competitive and every year only a small fraction of scientists is able to obtain an SFB. Usually, they are granted for eight years with a benchmark of 1 Million Euros per year. 

The general objective of SFBs is to establish a highly productive, interdisciplinary research group to answer complex research questions.

Jürgen Knoblich, Scientific Director at IMBA, spearheads the SFB “Stem Cell Modulation in Neural Development and Regeneration”.

Stem cells are defined by their ability to both self-renew and give rise to specialized daughter cells. Neuronal stem cells in the central nervous system, however, have to pass through defined competence states in order to give rise to the large number of diverse neurons.

The consortium aims to elucidate the molecular mechanisms regulating both neuronal progenitors and stem cells both in space and time. Noelia Urbán, IMBA group leader, will contribute her expertise in stem cell quiescence and will perform lineage tracing of adult hippocampal stem cells in the joint research activities of the SFB. The project comprises a consortium of scientists from the Vienna BioCenter, University of Innsbruck and IST Austria.

The SFB “RNA-DECO: Decorating RNA for a purpose” focuses on RNA research, with IMBA group leader Stefan Ameres contributing to the investigation of the function of chemical RNA modifications. Around 150 types of RNA modifications are known to date, many of which are actively involved in controlling gene expression and additional basic cellular processes. The consortium of scientists from Vienna and Innsbruck, led by Michael Jantsch from the Medical University of Vienna, will address biophysical and biochemical questions in the emerging field of RNA modification biology. Young scientists from the field will profit from the combined theoretical and practical expertise of the consortium, as it will reflect in their training.  

The SFB “Targeted Protein Degradation – From Small Molecules to Complex Organelles” addresses the biomedically relevant mechanism of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation. IMBA group leader Noelia Urbán will contribute to this SFB, which is led by Sascha Martens of the Max Perutz Labs and comprises scientists from the VBC and experts across Austria. 

About IMBA

IMBA - Institute of Molecular Biotechnology - is one of the leading biomedical research institutes in Europe focusing on cutting-edge stem cell technologies, functional genomics, and RNA biology. IMBA is located at the Vienna BioCenter, the vibrant cluster of universities, research institutes and biotech companies in Austria. IMBA is a subsidiary of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the leading national sponsor of non-university academic research. The stem cell and organoid research at IMBA is being funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and the City of Vienna.

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