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Austrias Life Science Hot-Spot

ÖGMBT is a platform for scientific exchange and diversity by connecting researchers, students and and company representatives.

The 11th ÖGMBT Annual Meeting in Salzburg included different sessions from invited speakers covering different research areas, and also gave young scientist the opportunity to present their work and exchange knowledge with international scientists.



The scientific get together presented current research in the key disciplines:

Translational oncology, Immune oncology, Immunology and allergology, Plant signalling, Tissue regeneration and cell based therapies, Trends in development and manufacturing of biologics, Microbial interactions and microbiome, Epigenetics, Infection biology and Joint doctoral schools: science meets technology.

The range and quality of bioscientific research was reflected by the top speakers that took stage throughout the meeting, including the following invited speakers:

Leila Akkari
Netherlands Cancer Institute, NL
Claudio Franceschi (Plenary)
University of Bologna, IT
Kim Midwood
University of Oxford, UK
Francesco Boccellato
Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, DE
Peter Hegemann (Plenary)
Humboldt-University Berlin, DE
Kevin Ryan
University of Glasgow, UK
Guido Boehmelt
Boehringer Ingelheim RCV GmbH & Co KG, AT
Frits Koning
Leiden University, NL
Waltraud Schulze
University of Hohenheim, DE
Daniel De Carvalho
Markus Künzler
ETH Zürich, CH
Wolfram Weckwerth
University of Vienna, AT
Massimo Dominici
Unimore, IT
Alberto Mantovani (Plenary)
Humanitas University, IT


Young Scientists Austria

Young aspiring scientists and their extraordinary research received awards in four different categories: PhD-Awards, Research Awards, Poster- and Talk Awards
ÖGMBT 239 Best Poster and Best Talk Awards for outstanding presentations at the meeting ÖGMBT 411

Harris Kaplan (IMP), Life Science PhD Award Austria 2019,category: basic research, sponsored by Polymun Scientific;
  Thomas Gaßler (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences),
Life Science PhD Award Austria 2019, category: applied science, sponsored by THP
Jörg Renkawitz (IST Austria), Life Science Research Award Austria 2019, category: basic research, sponsored by BMDW
Sandra Schick (CeMM), Life Science Research Award Austria 2019, category: applied science, sponsored by BMDW
Aline Telzerow (Graz University of Technology), Life Science Research Award Austria 2019, special award for excellence & societal impact, sponsored by BMDW

Find out more about the Life Science Research Awards Austria
and the https://www.oegmbt.at/awards/phd-award

 Esther1FotoFoto Palmetzhofer PosterFoto Brunner ElenaSobah Karuthedom GeorgeUrsula VideÖGMBT 435

The Best Poster Awards went to Esther Schamschula, Theresa Palmetzhofer, Elena Brunner, Sobha Karuthedom George, Ursula Vide. Thanks to the sponsors Microsynth und Polymun Scientific!


 Fendl Birgit (c) A Reischer Donau Universität Krems IMG 9730 (c) www.fotohofer.at Angelika Heißl Hendling

The Best Talk Awards went to Birgit Fendl, Angelika Heißl and Michaela Hendling
Thanks to the sponsor Polymun Scientific.

PhD Students organized the “Joint Doctoral Schools: Science Meets Technology” session, where PhD students from all “Doktoratskollegs” in Austria were welcome to present their work. Also PhD students from neighbouring countries have joined this scientific exchange and presented their research work.


Abstract book V2.7 1

Check out the full programme and abstract book for more information on the conference! 

Leila Akkari, Netherlands Cancer Institute, NL

Leila Akkari

Leila Akkari, is an Assistant Professor at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Tumor Biology and Immunology Departmentand member of the Oncode Institute. She trained in cellular and molecular biology during her BA at the University of Montpellier in France, and graduated in 2004 before performing her Master in oncology and immunology between Montpellier and Manchester (England). After returning to Montpellier, she performed her PhD in health sciences at the Molecular Genetics Institute of Montpellier, CNRS, during which she studied the effects of HCV viral proteins on cancer initiation through alteration of hepatocyte polarity and cell shape. Once her PhD finished, she developed her focus in the tumor microenvironment field, in rare tumors, and she joined Prof. Johanna Joyce's laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC. During this time, she began to work with mouse models of brain and pancreatic cancer, primarily focusing on tumor associated macrophages and their pro-tumorigenic roles in multiple tumor microenvironment. In 2017, Leila became an Assistant Professor at the NKI studying the tumor microenvironment dynamics in liver and brain tumors, and particularly the role of tissue resident and tumor infiltrating macrophages in these malignancies.

Francesco Boccellato, Univerisity of Oxford, GB

Francesco Boccellato

Dr. Francesco Boccellato completed his studies in genomic biotechnology at “Sapienza” University of Rome.  Since he was a student he was interested in the impact of pathogens in causing cancer in humans. During his PhD in Rome he studied the role of the Epstein Barr virus (EBV) in deregulating microRNAs in diffuse large B cell lymphomas. After his PhD, Francesco moved to Berlin, at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, were he started being interested in the causality of bacterial infection in human cancers. In contrast to viruses, bacteria do not transfer genetic information into the nucleus of the host cell and so it is unclear why bacterial infections are also associated with cancer. Chronic infection with Helicobacter pylori is, for example, the cause of most stomach cancer cases. To study the impact of infection on healthy epithelial barriers Francesco invented a new cultivation system for healthy epithelial cells called the mucosoids. The mucosoids are monolayer of polarised epithelial cells that recapitulate all the functions of an epithelial barrier in the body, including mucus production. The results of these invention were awarded by the two major Helicobacter study group societies. Francesco has recently started his independent group in the University of Oxford (UK), at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. His plan is to understand the contribution of infection in generating pre-cancerous lesions.

Guido Boehmelt, Boehringer Ingelheim RCV GmbH & Co KG, AT

Guido Boehmelt

Guido Boehmelt is Director of External Innovation in the globally acting Boehringer Ingelheim “Research Beyond Borders” (RBB) division. He received his PhD from the University of Vienna in 1993 following studies in Biology in Regensburg, Heidelberg and at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna. His postdoctoral studies led him to the Ontario Cancer Institute/Princess Margaret Hospital and later to the Amgen Research Institute in Toronto, Canada. His main research interests in these years focused on understanding leukemia development and normal hematopoietic differentiation cues. In 1999 he joined the Boehringer Ingelheim Oncology unit in Biberach, Germany as laboratory head, and was Director of Target- and Lead Discovery, Oncology of Boehringer Ingelheim in Vienna from 2004-2013. Since then he led various external collaborations with universities, biotech companies and public-private consortia for Boehringer Ingelheim as Director Research Networking. Since 2016 he is heading RBB Austria in the identification, evaluation and implementation of innovative therapeutic approaches and technologies for Boehringer Ingelheim´s existing and future therapeutic areas.

Daniel D De Carvalho, University Health Network, CA

Daniel D De Carvalho

Dr. De Carvalho is a senior scientist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Associate Professor at the Department of Medical Biophysics at University of Toronto. He holds the Canada Research Chair in Cancer Epigenetics and the Helen M Cooke endowed professorship. As recognition for his scientific excellence, dr. De Carvalho has received multiple awards, including the Canadian Cancer Society Bernard and Francine Dorval Prize, the CIHR new investigator salary award and the CIHR-ICR new Early Career Award in Cancer and the 2019 AAAS Martin and Rose Wachtel Cancer Research Award (Honorable Mention). His research was highlighted by ASCO in its annual report as one of the most important biomedical discoveries in oncology in 2012, by Nature Medicine (top 10 notable advances of 2015), NEJM (clinical implications of basic research: Epigenetic Modulators and the New Immunotherapies), EACR top 10 cancer research publication, and the Wall Street Journal.

 Dr. De Carvalho research program focuses on the translational aspects of cancer epigenetics. He is motivated by the fact that DNA methylation profiles are largely changed between normal tissue and cancer tissue in virtually all cancer types. His research program aims to understand whether cancer cells depend on this aberrant DNA methylation profile and whether it is amenable to therapeutic intervention. He is also interested in understanding whether it is possible to modulate an anti-tumor immune response using epigenetic therapy.  His work provided the scientific basis of multiple clinical trials testing this combination. Finally, He is also taking advantage of this massive cancer epigenetic reprogramming to develop tissue-based and blood-based (liquid biopsy) biomarkers for sub-group classification and cancer early detection.

Massimo Dominici, Unimore, IT

Massimo Dominici

Born in 1972 in Italy. MD degree at the University of Pavia. Post-graduate internship at the Vienna University (Austria). Residency in Hematology at the University of Ferrara. Post-Doctoral Associate at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis (USA). Hospital physician, associate professor of Medical Oncology. director of the residency achool in medical oncology and head of Cellular Therapies and Immuno-oncology program at the Modena and Reggio Emilia University (Modena, Italy). 29 grants for a total of 13.3 M Euro. More than 140 papers published with over 20000 citations, H-index 41. 10 patents. Founder of the University start-up Rigenerand who now raised over 12 M Euro for the development of cell/gene therapy projects for cancer. Coordinator of the Mirandola Science & Tecnology Park. Referee for 18 founding Bodies. He has been co-founder of the Forum of Italian Researcher on MSC (FIRST), board member of JACIE, WBMT and scientific advisor for the Italian Minister of Health. He has been member of ISCT, ASH, ESCGT, IFATS, IPLASS. Past-President of ISCT 2014-2016, now Chair of the ISCT presidential task-force on unproven cell and gene therapies.

Claudio Franceschi, University of Bologna, IT

Claudio Franceschi

MD cum laude (1967) at Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna (UNIBO), Italy. Full Professor of Immunology at the Universities of Padua (1980-86), Modena (1986-1998) and UNIBO (1998-20139. At present Professor Emeritus at UNIBO, and Associate Member of the Institute of Neurological Sciences of Bologna, Italy. Founder/Director of the Interdepartmental Center for Studies on Bioinformatics and Biocomplexity "L. Galvani", UNIBO (2001-2006; 2012). Director of the Dept. of Exp. Pathol., UNIBO (2010-2012). Scientific Director of Italian National Research Center for Aging (INRCA) (1996-2005). PUBLICATIONS: about 800 papers on peer reviewed journals (59.247 citations, h-index: 117, Google Scholar August 2019). MAJOR RESEARCH ACHIEVEMENTS: i) discovery of the most important characteristics of immunosenescence in humans; ii) the “inflammaging” theory of aging; iii) pioneering studies on: immune response and stress throughout evolution; iv) genetics, epigenetics, metabolomics, metagenomics, glycomics of human longevity (centenarians); v) discovery of nuclear genes and mtDNA polymorphisms associated to human longevity, Alzheimer and T2Dt; vi) new biomarkers of aging (gut microbiome; N-glycans; DNA methylation; inflamma-miRs; metabolomic and lipidomic markers); vii) mathematical modeling of the immune system and proteasome. JOURNALS: Editor-in-Chief of Ageing Research Review (IF 2018:10.390); member to editorial boards of: Aging Clin. Exp. Res.; Exp. Gerontol.; Mech. Ageing Dev.; AGING (USA); Aging Cell. GRANTS: Coordinator of European large collaborative projects: PROPAG-AGING (Aging and Parkinson disease, 2015-2019); ADAGE (Alzheimer disease; 2016-2019); NUAGE (MedDiet for elderly, 2011-2016); GEHA (GEnetics of Heathy Aging, 2004-2010). PI OF THE MEGAGRANT “DPM-AGEING” Digital Personalized Medicine of Healthy Ageing (2018-2020) funded by Government of Russian Federation at State National Research University "Lobachevsky” of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia”.

Peter Hegemann, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, DE

Peter Hegemann

Dr. Peter Hegemann is a Hertie professor for neuroscience and head of Experimental Biophysics at Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin. Hegemanns research focused almost entirely on the characterization of natural sensory photoreceptors. Hegemann has characterized behavioral and photoelectric responses of the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas, a work that cumulated in the claim that the photoreceptors for these responses a rhodopsins that unify the sensor and ion channel in one protein. He has finally proven this concept by identifying the light gated channel channelrhodopsin, and its functionality in animal cells. His group characterized this protein in molecular detail by a wide range of biophysical techniques which lead to the deciphering of the ion channel mechanism, including gating and ion selection. This work was the basis for the discovery of Optogenetics, a technology where light activated proteins – first of all channelrhodopsin - allow to control selected cells of large networks as the animal brain with unprecedented precision in space and time just by application of light. The Hegemann group also works on light-activated enzymes which further expand the optogenetic applications to important biochemical pathways.

Frits Koning, Leiden University, NL

Frits Koning

Prof. Frits Koning is a staff member in the department of Immunohematology and Blood Transfusion (150 fte) of the Leiden University Medical Centre since 1993. He is the chairman of the scientific advisory board of the LUMC and the CEO of the Dutch Celiac Disease Consortium (CDC) in which immunologists, geneticists, food specialists and medical doctors collaborate with industrial partners to improve the quality of life of patients with celiac disease (CD). He is well recognized for his contributions to the field of immune mediated disorders, celiac disease in particular. Through his work it is now well established which gluten fragments are disease causative and how they are recognized by disease-related T cells, providing a molecular basis for the genetic association between HLA-DQ and celiac disease.  In his most recent work he uses high dimensional mass cytometry to unravel the involvement of the innate and adaptive immune system in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

Markus Künzler, ETH Zürich, CH

Markus Künzler

Markus Künzler is Adjunct Professor of Mycology at ETH Zürich and studies the molecular defense mechanisms of fungi towards bacterial and animal antagonists.

Markus graduated with a MSc in Natural Sciences at ETH Zürich in 1989 and completed his education with a PhD at the Department of Natural Sciences of ETH Zürich with Prof. Ralf Hütter/PD Dr. Gerhard Braus on the transcriptional regulation of aromatic amino acid biosynthesis in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae in 1994. He received postdoctoral training at the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology of UC Berkeley (Laboratory of Prof. Jeremy Thorner) and at the Biochemie-Zentrum of Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg (Laboratory of Prof. Ed Hurt) on the role of RanGTP-binding proteins in nucleocytoplasmic transport in S. cerevisiae from 1994 to 2001. From 2001 to 2017, Markus established, as Senior Scientist in the laboratory of Prof. Markus Aebi at the Department of Biology of ETH Zürich, a research group on molecular defense mechanisms of fungi (with main focus on the basidiomycetous mushroom Coprinopsis cinerea) towards bacterial and animal antagonists. In 2018, he was appointed Adjunct Professor of Mycology at ETH Zürich. He is member of the directory board of the Institute of Microbiology of ETH Zürich and actively involved in teaching Microbiology and Mycology at the Department of Biology. Markus is the main organizer of the annual Zürich Mycology Symposium and active member of the Mycology section of the Swiss Society of Microbiology. He was awarded the Silver medal of ETH Zürich für his MSc thesis, a EMBO and a HFSPO Long-Term Postdoctoral Fellowship and a SNSF Advanced Researcher Fellowship. He is author of numerous publications in prestigious journals and several patents.

Alberto Mantovani, Istituto Clinico Humanitas, Humanitas University, IT

Alberto Mantovani

Alberto Mantovani, MD, is Professor of Pathology at the Humanitas University in Milan, and Scientific Director of the Istituto Clinico Humanitas.  His attention has been focused on molecular mechanisms of innate immunity and inflammation. He has contributed to the advancement of knowledge in the field of Immunology formulating new paradigms and identifying new molecules and functions.

For his research activity he has received several national and international awards, such as the Triennial OECI Award from the Organization of the European Cancer Institutes,  the Robert Koch Award for his contribution to tumor immunology and immunotherapy, the American-Italian Cancer Foundation (AICF) Prize for Excellence in Medicine and, most recent, the American Association for Cancer Research International Pezcoller Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Cancer Research.The broad impact of his contributions is testified by citations.  As of January 2019 he has over 111,000 (Scopus), 80,000 (Web of Science) or 160,000 (Google Scholar) citations and an H-index of 161 (Scopus), 125 (Web of Science) or 185 (Google Scholar).   

Kim Midwood, University of Oxford, GB

Kim Midwood

Kim Midwood is Professor of Matrix Biology at Oxford University, and Principal Investigator at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, studying how the cellular microenvironment drives, and shapes, immune responses.  

Kim graduated with a B.Sc. (HONS) in Biochemistry from Edinburgh University in 1995, and completed her Ph.D. in the Department of Pathology at Edinburgh University in 1999, identifying how changes in the extracellular matrix switch cell signalling pathways in arthritis. She undertook postdoctoral training in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University in the US from 1999, investigating the molecular mechanisms by which environmental cues define cell phenotype.  In 2004 she established the Matrix Immunology group in the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology at Imperial College London to examine how immunomodulatory matrix molecules contribute to healthy innate immune responses, and their role in pathological inflammation, moving to Oxford University in 2011.  In 2007 she was awarded an MRC New Investigators Award and in 2012 an Arthritis Research UK Senior Fellowship.  She founded the BioTech company Nascient Ltd in 2012


Kevin Ryan, Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, GB

Kevin Ryan

Professor Kevin Ryan, FRSE, Senior Group Leader, Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute

Professor Kevin Ryan obtained a BSc from the University of Liverpool and a PhD from the University of Glasgow.  Following post-doctoral work at the US National Cancer Institute, he was awarded a CRUK Senior Fellowship and established a research group at the CRUK Beatson Institute.  In 2007 he became Senior Group Leader at the Beatson and later that year was appointed Professor of Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Glasgow.   Kevin’s studies focus on understanding how tumour cells regulate apoptosis and autophagy during tumour development and cancer therapy.  He has received several awards for his work including the EACR ‘Cancer Researcher Award’ and the 2012 Tenovus Medal.  Kevin is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Waltraud Schulze, University of Hohenheim, DE

Waltraud Schulze

Dr. Waltraud Schulze, plant biologist, professor of Plant Systems Biology at the University of Hohenheim is a specialist in plant mass spectrometry based proteomics, also phopshoproteomics. Her research interest lies in unraveling the regulation of nutrient uptake and signaling processes at the plasma membrane. She applies proteomics experimental approaches in combination with compuatational biology.

Wolfram Weckwerth, University of Vienna, AT

Wolfram Weckwerth

Wolfram Weckwerth integrates system-theoretical ideas with genome-scale molecular analysis using genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, phosphoproteomics and metabolomics to understand and predict the genotype - phenotype-relationship. He investigates plant, microbial, animal and human systems. Working in the field of metabolomics since 2000, Wolfram Weckwerth has established metabolomics, proteomics and phosphoproteomics platforms in Germany and Austria. In 2008 he moved as a full professor to the University of Vienna and founded the Department of Molecular Systems Biology (MOSYS). In 2013 he became founding chair of the newly structured Department of Ecogenomics and Systems Biology comprising a full PANOMICS platform and applications in green systems biology and agroecology. Since 2015 Wolfram Weckwerth is founding chair of the Vienna Metabolomics Center (VIME) (https://vime.at/). VIME has a focus on biomedical research questions and algorithms for data processing and integration, machine learning and biochemical interpretation, structural elucidation of unknown metabolites as well as metabolomics/life sciences databases. Wolfram Weckwerth published more than 200 publications on systems biology applications, multiomics analysis and data-driven inverse modelling, edited several books and is special chief editor of Frontiers Metabolomics.