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15th CeMM Landsteiner Lecture by Wendell Lim and the 2021 Denise P. Barlow Award Ceremony


Prof. Wendell Lim at the 15th CeMM Landsteiner Lecture (Ⓒ Klaus Pichler / CeMM).

On 9 May 2022, CeMM hosted the 15th Landsteiner Lecture with keynote speaker Wendell Lim, Professor and Chair of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at the University of California San Francisco (USA), and Director of the Nanomedicine Development Center and the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center.

The event opened with the first piece of the famous set “3 Old Viennese Dances”, composed by Austrian-American violinist Fritz Kreisler, and performed by the musicians Kirill Kobanschenko, first violinist with the Philharmonic Orchestra, Florian Eggner, a cellist who plays in all the major houses, and Aurore Nozomi - solo violist in the Volksoper.

CeMM Scientific Director Giulio Superti-Furga delivered the welcome address, followed by the Denise P. Barlow Award Ceremony, a yearly academic talent prize in memory of former CeMM Principal Investigator Denise Barlow, and launched by the four Viennese institutions she was connected to: IMP, Max Perutz Labs, IMBA and CeMM. The prize intends to promote the academic career of young scientists and awards the best PhD thesis on topics that cover basic cell biological, biochemical, molecular biological, structural, and computational work, with an emphasis on new biological mechanisms. The 2021 awardee was former CeMM PhD student Martin G. Jäger for his thesis entitled “Harnessing ligand-inducible protein degradation to dissect transcriptional control by the human Mediator complex”, which he conducted under the supervision of CeMM Principal Investigator Georg Winter. Martin is now a successful postdoc at the laboratory of Benjamin F. Cravatt at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego (USA).

After the performance of the last two pieces of the musical set, the invited keynote speaker Wendell Lim delivered his lecture entitled “Beyond Evolution: building new cellular functions and therapies”. Wendell Lim is best known for his major contributions to synthetic biology, and during his talk he presented his main research work in the field, focusing on the redesign of biological cellular circuits and systems to engineer cells to execute useful novel functions in health and other areas. His research can be applied to therapeutic sensor technology, which can precisely identify and treat complex diseases such as cancer or modify signaling pathways within cells in order to better understand them for the development of novel medical treatment approaches.

About the CeMM Landsteiner Lecture series
The CeMM Landsteiner Lecture series is named in honor of Karl Landsteiner, the Viennese scientist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering blood groups. The invited speakers, carefully selected by CeMM Faculty, are prominent scientists whose molecular research is deemed to have had a significant impact on medicine. From 2007 to 2018, the lecture was held in the stunning 18th century frescoed festive hall of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, where once Haydn and Beethoven conducted premieres of their work. In 2019, it took place at the impressive building of the House of Industry in Vienna, to which it returned again this year after the pandemic period.

We would like to thank Wendell Lim for delivering such an insightful and forward-looking 15th Landsteiner Lecture! We also congratulate Martin G. Jäger for his award and thank the 300 participants who joined us once again in person at this beautiful event!

If you could not attend the lecture, please watch the full recording here.