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New developments at IMBA

On 15 July, Josef Penninger officially stepped down from his position as Scientific Director at IMBA. Having been at the helm for more than 15 years and as its founding director, he helped to develop IMBA into the largest institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and an internationally renowned academic player in life sciences.

As interim director, Jürgen Knoblich, the long-standing deputy scientific director of IMBA, will head up the institute from 15 July. Jürgen Knoblich has co-developed the institute’s strategy for many years. To fill the vacant position as IMBA’s new director there will be an international call commencing this summer.

On 1 December, Josef Penninger will start his new position leading the prestigious Life Science Institute (LSI) at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Despite his new role and tasks, he will retain close ties with the VBC community, and run a smaller lab at IMBA, continuing a range of exciting projects to foster collaborations and knowledge and technology transfer between Austria and Canada.

In the meantime, the IMBA scientific directorate stands for consistency and continuity, while the institute is developing and attracting leading international scientists. This is reflected by the successful recruitment of two new junior Group Leaders, who will install their labs in January 2019.  

Shambaditya Saha has a background in Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering as well as a PhD in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University. He wants to investigate the basic principles for how such liquid-like non-membrane-bound organelles work.

Alejandro Burgas completed his PhD in Barcelona, and for his postdoc at UCLA he focused on the mutations that cause “inverse evolution” in the famous Galapagos Cormorants, mutations that can also be seen in humans with defined developmental defects. At IMBA, he will continue his work on how genotypes result in specific phenotypes, using evolutionary principles to this end.