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Awards & Honors, Scientific

Jürgen Knoblich gets appointed to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences

IMBA´s scientific director Jürgen Knoblich has been accepted into the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. This was announced by the Vatican on Friday, September 25th.


Jürgen Knoblich was appointed IMBA’s Scientific Director in 2018. His research group at IMBA was established in 2004, when he joined as senior scientist. Knoblich was granted several prestigious prizes such as the Wittgenstein Award, the Schrödinger Prize, the FEBS Anniversary Prize as well as two Advanced Research Grants from the ERC. He is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), the Academia Europaea, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, in 2020 he also joined the board of directors of the ISSCR, the International Society for Stem Cell Research. Jürgen Knoblich and his research lab are also part of a pan-European initiative to revolutionize healthcare by applying breakthrough technologies to the progression of human diseases and intends to find and implement new methods for personalized prevention, early diagnosis and treatment.

Knoblich’s work focuses on understanding the mechanisms of human brain development. Initially, he was using the fruit fly Drosophila as model organism, in order to investigate the molecular mechanisms guiding brain development and pathogenesis. His lab achieved a breakthrough in 2013, when they successfully cultivated the worldwide first organoid model of early human brain development, termed “Cerebral Organoids”. The novel technology led to a paradigm shift, as cerebral organoids mimic early human brain development in an astoundingly precise way. This opens the door to neurodevelopmental studies and targeted analyses of human neurological disorders which are otherwise not possible.

About the Pontifical Academy

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is one of the most renowned and oldest scientific academies in the world. Its members include the most distinguished names in science such as Galileo Galilei, Stephen Hawking and Ernest Rutherford. The number of members is limited to 80. The Pontifical Academy is regulated only by its statutes in order to promote the progress of the mathematical, physical and natural sciences and their associated epistemological problems. The members are selected without any form of ethnic or denominational reservations from the most eminent scientists and scholars from all over the world and are appointed by the Pope for life. The seat of the Academy, founded in 1603 and restored by Pope Pius XI in 1936, is located in the Casino di Pio IV in the heart of the Vatican Gardens.