On March 7th 2014 more than 90 researchers interested in using and developing small molecules as biological probes and potential new drugs met at CeMM for the 4th Austrodrugs meeting organized by Stefan Kubicek and Giulio Superti-Furga. In a “scientific speed dating” 19 chemical biologists from academia and industry gave short 10-minute presentations. The well-balanced mix of speakers from different scientific backgrounds covered topics such as drug discovery, using and developing chemical probes to understand the biology of diseases, as well as virtual screening and modeling as a means of revealing drug interactions and drug targets. The keynote lecture given by Prof. Andrew Hopkins (University of Dundee), undeniably one of the leading experts in the field of developing novel informatics and experimental methods to enable more effective ways of drug discovery, topped off the successful 4th gathering of the Austrodrugs community. In his lecture “Big Data meets Darwin: the future of drug design” Prof. Hopkins presented his latest research and bold approaches for fully automated design and synthesis of novel lead molecules. The following reception allowed an informal discussion about opportunities for future collaborations and strengthened the interaction of academic and industrial drug discovery. The success story will be continued: The 5th Austrodrugs anniversary will take place in March 2015.
On February 28, 2014 the opening symposium of the Vienna Center for Rare and Undiagnosed Diseases (CeRUD) took place at the Jugendstil lecture hall of the Medical University of Vienna under the auspices of the Rector of the Medical University of Vienna, Wolfgang Schütz and the founding members, Arnold Pollak, Head of the University Hospital for Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Hubert Pehamberger, Head of the University Hospital for Dermatology, Georg Stingl, Head the Clinical Department of Immunodermatology and Infectious Skin Diseases, and Giulio Superti-Furga, Scientific Director of the CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The symposium was organized by Kaan Boztug, Principal Investigator at CeMM, and Assistant Professor, Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and Director of CeRUD.
The Vienna Center for Rare and Undiagnosed Diseases has been established recently to pool resources and competencies in order to provide the affected individuals with the best possible interdisciplinary diagnostic analysis and care. This includes interdisciplinary clinical care involving many disciplines that are represented at the Medical Campus AKH Vienna and at the Medical University of Vienna. At the same time, CeRUD is involved in various internationally competitive research activities in order to promote the development of new strategies for diagnosis and treatment of these diseases.
A newly identified mutation fills the gap in the molecular pathogenesis of MPN and brings hope to many MPN patients: To date a recently identified mutation in the gene called Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) MPN could be held responsible for MPN in 3/4 of the patients. The remaining patients however did not benefit from this discovery as their MPN was not caused by JAK2 mutations. The research group of Robert Kralovics at CeMM in collaboration with Heinz Gisslinger´s group at the Medical University of Vienna now succeeded in the discovery of a new mutation in the gene encoding calreticulin (CALR). This discovery explains about 75 % of the cases for which the reason was unknown so far. It comes to the benefit of millions of patients worldwide as a molecular diagnostic test was made available immediately. The findings have been published advanced online in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and was being discussed at the Annual Meeting of American Society of Hematology (ASH). The study has been supported by grants from the MPN Research Foundation and the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
The results reported in NEJM were presented and discussed with the press in Vienna, on December 13 by Giulio Superti-Furga, Scientific Director of CeMM, Markus Müller, Vice Rector of the Medical University of Vienna, Robert Kralovics, Principal Investigator at CeMM and project leader of the research study, and co-author Heinz Gisslinger of the Medical University of Vienna.
Fabiola Gianotti, Ph.D., CERN Physics Department, Large Hadron Collider, gave the 2nd SMART lecture, on November 25th, 2013 at CeMM. Around 200 scientists from different fields and interested lay people attended her lecture "The Higgs Boson and Our Life". We would like to thank Fabiola Gianotti for her brilliant talk!
On September 11th, 2013 the soccer teams of IMP,IMBA, ISTA, MFPL, GMI, the Austrian Academy of Sciences and Companies of the Vienna Biocenter and CeMM met for the SU(mmer)R(esearchers)F(ootball) Tournament. With fancy footwork, elaborate strategy, a high team spirit spurred on by enthusiastic cheerleaders the CeMM soccer team carried the day! CeMM won each of its matches with a total score of 17:5. We congratulate all teams and thank coach Mischa Pilz for his very good job and IMBA for the excellent organization of the tournament.
CeMM congratulates Jürgen Knoblich and his team at CeMM’s companion institute IMBA for a truly extraordinary scientific success. The team managed to develop complex human brain tissue in a three-dimensional culture system. The method described in the current issue of NATURE allows pluripotent stem cells to develop into cerebral organoids – or "mini brains" – that consist of several discrete brain regions. This achievement contributes to establish Vienna as a world-known hot spot for biomedical sciences and it is an eloquent display of the scientific prowess of the life science institutes of the Austrian Academy of Sciences while providing an additional validation of the Academy’s strategy on life sciences. (http://www.imba.oeaw.ac.at/news-media/news/news/brains-on-demand/)
From August 16-19 international experts, politicians and decision makers met at the Tyrolean village Alpbach for this year´s Health Symposium, which focused on the question “Who Decides Health?” CeMM´s Scientific Director Giulio Superti-Furga was invited chair of the discussion “Fair Society, Healthy Lives” following the keynote presentation by Sir Michael Marmot and led a plenary interview with John Ioannidids on “How Reliable is Evidence in Medicine”. Together with Jochen Taupitz, Giulio Superti-Furga co-moderated the breakout working group “Creating Knowledge: Which Freedoms Should Clinical Research Have“. In his opening keynote he stressed that freedom in medically-oriented research means to have the financial freedom and possibility of performing a clinically oriented research program. Without reducing in any possible way basic research funding, the challenges society faces, in light of the demographic development and increase in mobility, would require a dedicated research health program. He pointed out the areas of infections (viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic), cardiovascular and metabolic disorders (obesity, atherosclerosis etc), as well as cognitive, psychiatric and neurological disorders as three possible priorities that are both of strategic value for the country and areas of existing scientific competence in Austria. To this effect Giulio Superti-Furga presented the hypothesis of a dedicated and coordinated research effort in medicine and health sciences, to complement the basic research funding programs, in the shape of an Austrian “National Institute of Health (NIH)”.
Haplogen, a biotechnology company developing antiviral therapies, and CeMM, the Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, today announced that they are making available their large collection of human cell lines that are deficient for single genes, which they have been building over the past three years as part of a public-private partnership. The partnership, through Haplogen, will distribute requested cell lines to the research community. The collection and the technological advances that enabled its development were published in Nature Methods advanced online, on August 25. It currently includes cell line clones covering 3,000 different human genes, which represents about one third of all the genes that are active in these cells. The collection will continue to expand until all the genes have been targeted.