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Four Vienna BioCenter collaborations supported by the Austrian Science Fund

14 Dec 2023

Three Special Research Programs (SFB, for “Spezialforschungsbereich”) involving Vienna BioCenter scientists will have further support by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) for the next four years. In addition, a collaborative doc.funds initiative involving Anna Obenauf has secured funding to support the research of doctoral students in the field of genome instability.

Three Special Research Programs receive further funding

The controlled degradation of proteins is essential for cellular function and fitness in all organisms, yet not fully understood. The consortium of 13 research groups that comprise the SFB (“Spezialforschungsbereich” or special research program) in ‘Targeted Protein Degradation’ aims to uncover the molecular mechanisms of protein degradation pathways, among them the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and autophagy. Sasha Martens, group leader at Max Perutz Labs, has assembled a team of outstanding scientists in Vienna and Berlin who employ a diverse array of methods and model organisms. The consortium involves IMP senior group leader Tim Clausen, technology platform head David Haselbach, and other groups at Max Perutz Labs, Gregor Mendel Institute (GMI) and Institute of Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Science (IMBA), the Center for Molecular Medicine (CeMM), and the Max-Delbrück-Center in Berlin.

With participation of IMP senior group leader Elly Tanaka, the SFB ‘Neuro Stem Modulation’ aims to dissect the molecular mechanisms that control the differentiation of stem and neural progenitor cells into specialised neurons in the central nervous system. The project has received funding of 9.5 million Euro for two periods and is led by Jürgen Knoblich of IMBA.

One more SFB involving Vienna BioCenter scientists, called ‘RNA-DECO’, received further support. The program's goal is to investigate the impact of chemical modifications on the structure and function of specific RNAs. The total funding for the 8-year duration of the consortium amounts to 10 million Euro.

New docs.funds initiative to study genome instability

The Austrian Science Fund will support another collaboration between nine groups at the Vienna BioCenter. A doc.funds initiative led by Christopher Campbell, group leader at Max Perutz Labs, aims to deepen our mechanistic understanding of the role genomic instability plays in disease, particularly in cancer. Genome instability describes a high mutation rate that impacts the proper functioning of cells and, by extension, the tissues and organism in which they are embedded.

The grant will help nine doctoral students – including one in the lab of senior group leader Anna Obenauf – tackle different aspects of genome maintenance and DNA repair mechanisms. Fostering the education of the next generation of cell biologists, the initiative seeks to enhance research training for doctoral students in existing doctoral programs, including the Vienna BioCenter PhD Program. In addition, students will benefit from workshops, annual retreats, and the development of soft skills. PhD recruitment will start in spring 2024.

Further reading

Decoding genome instability: New doc.funds initiative

Prolongation of three Special Research Programs