16. Dezember 2004
IMPACTFACTOR 100 The regular Campus Newsletter
- Chairman’s Welcome
- People News
- Research & Development News
- Funding & Finance
- Campus Association
1. Chairman’s Welcome
5th Issue, 16th December 2004
The year comes to an end and with that six month have passed since the new Board of the Campus Association took office. I hope our activities since then have been worthwhile to you and your colleagues. In this context I believe that the establishment of the Campus Office as central platform for attending to your ideas, comments and information was pivotal in providing support. On that basis we were able to establish a range of services including the well received Campus
Intranet that has already experienced more than 10.000 hits since its launch. That is on average 60 visits a day!
However, we also strived to meet your developing expectations of the intranet and already have added sub-pages for Events and Job Opportunities / Offers. Both are facilities that are there for your support and I urge you not to hesitate asking the Campus Office to add your inputs.
We also managed to develop the Atrium of Campus Vienna Biocenter 2 into a local meeting place. Here we already hosted four social get-togethers that were attended by over a hundred colleagues each. I also like to take the opportunity to thank some Board members for their hands-on help in getting these events going – and especially Karin Payer, Treasurer of the Association, who has an unfathomable depth of creative ideas.
Furthermore, we are very happy that the Impactfactor 100 – our Newsletter – had a real headstart. Already with the first issue we received many favorable comments. With this issue you now receive number five and every month more and more content is passed on to the Campus Office. Thanks a lot!
This is only a summary of the main activities that the Campus Association has organized within the last six month. Providing information to external inquiries, guiding visitors and identifying new needs we do “as we go along”. But all these activities are not possible without a strong commitment by every Campus Organization to the goals we want to achieve. This certainly includes financial support as well. So I am very grateful to all Campus organizations that have contributed to fund our activities so far.
I trust one of this years highlights – the Ph.D. Award – is a very good example for this commitment: not only did Renee Schroeder took the initiative for this prestigious Award and invested a lot of her valuable time but the IMP, IMBA and the Campus Association all were willing to fund the Award. So I am very happy to not only congratulate the three winners – more about them further below – but to thank everyone involved in making the Award itself and the prize ceremony last Monday into a success for all of us.
Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to thank all members of the Campus and the Association for their active participation in our events, the Advisory Board for their important contributions in our board meetings, the board for supporting me throughout the realization of the ambitious first six months program and the Campus office for providing the infrastructure to make things happen.
With such support I am looking forward to the next stage in contributing to the development of the Campus Vienna Biocenter into a worldwide re-known Life Science Center next year. For now I like to wish you a nice Christmas and a happy and prosperous new Year.
Michael Schaude, Chairman
2. People News
Executive Board Member of dialog<>gentechnik Receives the Lower Austrian Science Award
On 21st November 2004 Lower Austria’s prize in recognition of outstanding achievements in sciences has been awarded to Marianne Popp, Professor for plant physiology at the University of Vienna. Further laureates came from as different disciplines as botanic, law, literature, history, medicine and adult education.
Marianne Popp, born in Leonhard am Forst (Lower Austria) is a member of the executive board of the independent society dialog<>gentechnik, located at the Campus. She engages in the activities of dialog<>gentechnik as she is strongly in favor of discussing critical issues of gene technology and its concerns with the broad public.
As a plant ecologist she is studying the effects of increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere on plant growth and she is interested in understanding the interplay between plant parasites and their hosts.
Another Science Award from Lower Austria for IMP Chemist
The IMP chemist Karl Mechtler, too was awarded with the prize for science of Lower Austria in recognition of his achievement in protein chemistry. The ceremony took place on 21st November in the Danube University Krems. Karl Mechtler is head of a scientific service-group of the IMP and especially works on proteomic- research. Furthermore Mechtler is head of the
sub-project „Novel Proteomics Tools“ of the GEN-AU network „Austrian Proteomic Platform“ funded by the Austrian government (see below).
3. R & D News
One Enigma of Immunology Solved
In a recent paper which was published online in Nature Immunology, Meinrad Busslinger and his team were able to describe a mechanism that has still recently been termed an „enigma of immunology“. Together with Jane Skok from the University College London, the group had done extensive research on B-cell development in mice. They found that the 3-megabase pair-long
immunoglobulin heavy-chain locus undergoes V(D)J recombination only after locus contraction and that a functional rearrangement of one immunoglobulin allele induces locus ‚decontraction‘ and centromeric recruitment of the second allele, thus preventing further V(D)J rearrangement (allelic exclusion). In other words, the fact that each B-cell produces only a single type of receptor is brought about by „spatial“ regulation of the immunoglobulin heavy-chain locus within the cell’s nucleus. (publication see below)
Our Professors Are Becoming Philosophical!
Look into the Nature issue of 18th November and you will find Erwin Heberle-Bors as the author of a correspondence letter entitled „Bible study led Newton to scientific discovery“ (see publication below). What the heck drove Heberle-Bors to write about Newton and the Bible? Well, he has a long term interest in history, including science history, and he knew that natural scientists have a problem of understanding the tight relationship of religion and science in Newton’s life. An example of this non-comprehension can, coincidentally, be found in the same Nature issue, i.e. Alan Packer’s review of a Newton exhibition in New York on page 277. Coincidence? Can’t be. Or what?
Editors Notes: See also the recent „Nature“ issue, Vol 432, p. 670, on the Dalai Lama comments on science.
Locus ‚decontraction‘ and centromeric recruitment contribute to allelic exclusion of the immunoglobulin heavy-chain gene In: Nature Immunology „advance online publication“, 5th Dezember 2004 (http://www.nature.com/natureimmunology, doi: 10.1038/ni1150); Roldán, E., Fuxa, M., Chong, W., Martinez,D., Novatchkova,M., Busslinger,M. und Skok, J. A., IMP
Bible study let Newton to scientific discovery. In: Nature Vol. 432, p. 271, November 2004; Heberle-Bors, E., University Vienna
4. Funding & Finance
Biovertis und Kapital & Wert
Biovertis announces that a first instalment of EUR 3.5 Mio. in atypical silent partnership funding has been raised by Austrian corporate finance specialist Kapital & Wert. The fix EUR 3.5 Mio. will be transferred to the company by the end of 2004. A second instalment of EUR 3.5 Mio. will be placed in 2005. The atypical silent partnership contribution had been committed by Kapital & Wert in the context of the company’s Series A financing completed in September 2004 which was mentioned in the last „Impactfactor 100“.
A. Asian Partner for Intercell
Intercell and the international biopharmaceutical company SciGen Limited (Singapore) announced the signing of an exclusive agreement for the development of a new therapeutic Hepatitis B virus [“HBV”] vaccine. A therapeutic HBV vaccine providing a cure for HBV would significantly reduce the burden of the disease and meet a high medical demand in an attractive market. Currently there is no therapeutic vaccine against Hepatitis B available. The proposed therapeutic vaccine combines SciGen’s already licensed PreS1-, PreS2- Hepatitis B virus antigen (Sci-B-VacTM) with Intercell’s novel synthetic Immunizer IC31TM as an adjuvant that induces the type of immune response needed to overcome the infection. Intercell will formulate the vaccine for clinical development and both parties will collaborate in the development and commercialization of the product. The Development Agreement between SciGen and Intercell provides for a sharing of development costs resulting in joint ownership of any future product. Further financial details have not been disclosed.
B. Intercell Awarded
Intercell has won the Mercur 2004 for the best innovation in the category „life sciences“. The prize was awarded for Intercell’s Antigen Identification Program (AIP) by the Austrian Camber of Commerce on 11th November 2004. The award was presented during the Gala- Event “Magic of Innovations” at the MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts.
Big Money for Genome-Research
The genome-research-program GEN-AU will be funded with another EUR 21 Mio. for 2005 and 2006 by the Austrian federal ministry of education, science and culture. Within this program three projects of the IMP are financed: „Epigenetic Plasticity of the Genome“ led by Thomas Jenuwein, and two projects with IMP-participants, the „Bioinformatics Integration Network“ (Frank Eisenhaber) and the „Austrian Proteomics Platform“ (Karl Mechtler, as was mentioned above). The public awareness of the program is raised by dialog<>gentechnik on behalf of the Austrian Council for Research and Technology Development. The GEN-AU program was initiated in 2001 to provide new insights in structure and function of the human genome and genomes of microorganisms, plants and animals with scientific and economic interest. Since 2001 GEN-AU was funded with EUR 31.5 Mio. – which makes the program the most-supported research-program of the Austrian Second Republic.
5. Campus Association
Institute of Botany – Department of Chromosome Biology
With the beginning of 2005 the Department of Chromosome Biology (currently located in the Institute of Botany at Rennweg 14, 1030 Vienna) will move to the Campus and unfold its activities in the first floor of the VBC 2 building. The department follows the tradition of Elisabeth Tschermak Woess (1917-2000), the first chair of genetics at the University of Vienna and is currently headed by Dieter Schweizer. Additionally, four faculty members
(Josef Loidl, Michael Jantsch, Franz Klein, Peter Schlögelhofer) and approximately 30 Ph.D. diploma students and post-docs work in the department.
A main emphasis of the department is directed towards the study of meiosis which is investigated by all research groups in C. elegans, S. cerevisiae, S. pombe and A. thaliana. Furthermore, RNA maturation is studied in several systems. By moving to the new location, ongoing collaboration and interactions with groups already located at the Campus will be facilitated. Furthermore, the long-standing tradition of plant research will be strengthened by close collaboration with research groups located in the neighbouring Gregor Mendel Institute. As part of this collaboration a research group of the GMI is already hosted in the department. More at www.univie.ac.at/zellbio
A. PH.D Award: And the Winners are …
The Campus Ph.D. Award was a great success. 17 applicants with excellent Ph.D. theses competed for the three awards. These were coming with EUR 500 each sponsored by Campus Association, the IMP, and the IMBA. The deserved winners are Nicole Föger, Mark Petronczki and Maria Novatchkova (from left to right). The Ph.D. Award Ceremony took place on 13th December in Campus Vienna
Biocenter 2. There the three awardees presented their honored Ph.D. research-thesis to about 60 guests. And here are the details for those who couldn’t attend the ceremony:
Maria Novatchkova was awarded for her thesis about
„Enhanced Sensitivity in Protein Domain Discovery and
Functional Domain Coupling Using Phylogenetically and
Contextually Related Sequence Sets“. Born in Sofia,
Bulgaria her family moved to Vienna at the point when the
ongoing socialist experiment was converted into an even
less elaborate antisocialist, neo-liberal experiment. In the following she studied Genetics
at the University of Vienna concluding with a diploma thesis in the field of cancer biology. For her dissertation she joined the
bioinformatics research group of Frank Eisenhaber at the IMP where she focused on the analysis of globular protein parts in a homology framework. At present she is a post- doctoral fellow in the group of Dieter Schweizer at the GMI following up some of her previous scientific work. In the future she would like to extend her research activities into a largely unsolved area of theoretical sequence analysis namely the analysis of nonglobular protein features and short functional sites.
Mark Petronczki – the only male Ph.D. award winner – studied genetics at the University of Vienna from 1995 to 2000. Before embarking on his diploma thesis, Mark spent four months as a summer student in Dr. Daniel St. Johnston’s laboratory at the Wellcome / CRC Institute in Cambridge (UK) studying mRNA
localization during Drosophila oogenesis. In 1999 he joined Jürgen Knoblich’s group at the IMP as a diploma student to work on cell polarity and asymmetric cell division in Drosophila for his diploma thesis. Thereafter, Mark switched model organism and field of research by starting his doctoral studies (as a Vienna Biocenter Ph.D. Program student) in Kim Nasmyth’s laboratory at the IMP focusing on the mechanisms of chromosome segregation during budding yeast meiosis. During his Ph.D. he identified a kinetochore-associated protein complex (called ‘monopolin’) which directs the segregation of maternal and paternal homologs to opposite poles during the first meiotic division. After obtaining his PhD in 2004 and –hopefully- surviving the compulsory military service in 2005, he plans to move to the US for postdoctoral training.
And last but not least Nicole Föger, who focused in her research on the topic of „Investigations of Picornavirus Host Cell Interactions“. Nicole Föger was born in Bad Ischl and studied biochemistry at the University of Vienna. She performed her diploma thesis on the “Function of granulose cells during the
development of follicles” under the supervision of Karl Kuchler. During her Ph.D thesis, Nicole studied Picornaviruses (the name comes from small “pico” RNA), a group of viruses, that cause diseases such as the common cold, foot-and-mouth disease, poliomyelitis, hepatitis, etc… These viruses turn off protein synthesis of the host by cleaving the translation
initiation factor eIF4G. The focus of Nicole’s work was this mechanism of cleavage by the viral proteases. Nicole is now at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg working as a postdoctoral fellow on the structure and assembly of Lamins and Laminopathies.
B. Rudolf, Santa Clause and Christmas-Cookies
The Ph.D. Award Ceremony was followed by the Campus Christmas- Party. Christmas jingles, mulled wine and the Campus Christmas tree with 4 meters height
provided a pleasant anticipation of Christmas – as you can see on the pictures. For more impressions take a look at the Campus Picture Gallery of the Campus Intranet at www.viennabiocenter.com/content/gallery4/gallery4.asp.
International Science Communication
On 30th November Gabriela Ondrejkovics Fernandes (Head of Research Services & International Relations, University of Vienna), Stefan Bernhardt (Head of Communications, Austrian Science Fund (FWF)) and Till Jelitto (Managing Partner, PR&D) presented a seminar on International Science Communication & Relations at the Campus for 25 interested attendees of Austria’s science and media community. These included representatives from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Austrian Rector’s Conference, IMBA, IMP, University of Vienna and the „Zentrum für Innovation und Technologie – ZIT“.
Gabriela Fernandes presented current and forthcoming services and activities of the Office of Research Services & International Relations of the University of Vienna. Since the appointment of Gabriela Fernandes in May 2004 the office has continuously increased its workforce and will have reached full operational level with 17 staff by the end of the year. The office will than provide an extensive range of services to all of the 70.000 members of the University.
Stefan Bernhardt explained the role that science communication and PR has for Austria’s largest Basic Science Fund the FWF. The stakeholder-analyses and the analysis of the FWF’s eleven PR- measures was of particular interest. Stefan Bernhardt pointed out that one of the top three measures are the monthly global FWF-project press releases by PR&D.
Following, Till Jelitto presented the logistics of and experience from well over 20 of these global FWF-releases from astrophysics to zebrafish. His description how online-search- functions could be used to analyze the global coverage of one press release in mainstream as in special interest media was of particular interest.
Next PR&D seminar: Three perspectives on Research Marketing – Theory, Academy, Industry (March 2005).
A. Dialogue Event „Gene Technology on My Dish“
Genetic modification of food makes many consumers feel insecure and concerned. A lot of people are against GM food although they lack any information about the issue. To ease opinion and decision making in front of the shelf dialog<>gentechnik organized an information and discussion event about the use of gene technology in food production, labelling of GM food or health aspects of GM food. „Gene technology on my dish“ took place in the shopping mall of the Gasometer on 13th November 2004 and was organized on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Women. More than 90 people visited the stands and participated in a GM food quiz.
B. Participation in the Euro-CASE Workshop: Biotechnology and Society, the Science Generation Project.
The executive board member of dialog<>gentechnik, Karl Kuchler, participated as a speaker in the Euro-CASE workshop: Biotechnology and Society, the Science Generation Project which took place on 27 – 28th October, 2004 in Vienna. Euro-CASE is an independent, non- profit organization of academies of applied sciences, technologies and engineering from 18 European countries. Karl Kuchler reviewed in his lecture entitled with „Biotechnology in Austria – What About the Public Opinion“ the public opinion on biotechnology in Austria and how scientists can initiate efficient communication on biotechnology and biomedicine with the general public, media and policy makers. His talk was followed by a lively discussion.
Symposium on Evoultion on Air
IMP’s sysmposium on Evolution was featured by Austria’s radio station Ö1 on 17th November. The program „DIMENSIONEN“ covered the event with 25 minutes of interviews that were taken during the symposium. The recording is available from the IMP PR-office (Heidemarie Hurtl, T 797 30 ex 358, E email@example.com).
New Face for Intercell’s Website
Intercell has relaunched its webpage. New features and categories as well as updated content form an optimal communication platform that is as informative and up-to-date as possible. The homepage will be Intercell’s main information pool in the communication with public interest groups as well as the scientific and investor community. Have fun clicking through it! at www.intercell.com.
„Austria Innovativ“ Features Campus Vienna Biocenter Association
The December issue of the magazine „Austria Innovativ“ features the Campus Vienna Biocenter and its Association with eight pages. An interview with Michael Schaude, chairman of the Campus Vienna Biocenter Association and CEO of Bender MedSystems, reports Michael Schaude’s personal visions of the needs for Austria’s Life Science. A further article refers to the ongoing activities to create a united Campus out of many individual organizations. But have a look yourself in Austria Innovativ 6 / 2004. Copies are available from the Campus office soon.
Edited by PR&D on behalf of the Campus Vienna Biocenter Association
If you no longer want to receive this Newsletter please send a brief E-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org