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Wittgenstein Award for Erwin Wagner

25 Oct 1996
Erwin Wagner, Senior Scientist at the IMP IMP/point of view, 2006

Senior Scientist and Deputy Director Erwin F. Wagner is the first recipient of the newly established research prize of the Austrian government.

Named after the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, a new award has been created to express recognition for and to support excellent scientists who "have produced exceptional scientific work and who occupy a prominent place in the international scientific community". The award is conferred once a year by the Austrian Science Fund FWF on behalf of the Austrian Science Ministry.

Along with linguist Ruth Wodak, IMP Researcher Erwin Friedrich Wagner is the first recipient of the new award. He is Senior Scientists and Deputy Director at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP). His research focusses on mammalian genetics and gene transfer studies in the mouse model. Together with his team, he investigates the function of certain genes in pathologically increased cell division. "We are using gene transfer studies in embryos and embryonic stem cells to investigate what happens when we genetically alter them. In this way, we learn to understand which of the approximately 30,000 genes of a mouse influence certain physiological and pathological developments." This is based on the hope of developing new concepts for the diagnosis and therapy of cancer.

Erwin Friedrich Wagner, born in 1950 Wolfsberg, Carinthia, obtained his PhD in biochemistry at the University of Graz in 1978. For his postdoctoral studies he joined the lab of Beatrice Mintz at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania. From 1983 to 1987, he was a group leader at the EMBL in Heidelberg before being recruited to the IMP as one of the founding PIs by Max Birnstiel in 1988.

The Wittgenstein Award comes with an endowment of 15 million ATS (1.1 million Euro), distributed over a period of five years. It was presented by federal chancellor Franz Vranitzky and science minister Rudolf Scholten during a festive event on 25 October, 1996.