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Awards & Honors

Two Life Science Awards for IMBA

Sabrina Ladstätter (Tachibana-Konwalski group) receives Life Science Research Award by the Austrian Association for Molecular Science and Biotechnology, IMBA- alumna Beata Mierzwa (Gerlich group) awarded with Life Science PhD Award

Multiple award-winning Cell publication reveals the zygote´s mechanism of reprogramming to totipotency 

Sabrina Ladstätter from the Tachibana-Konwalski lab was awarded the Life Science Research Award 2017 in the category basic science at the annual meeting of the Austrian Association of Molecular Science and Biotechnology (ÖGMBT). The award-winning publication “A surveillance mechanism ensures repair of DNA lesions during zygotic reprogramming” was published in Cell in December 2016. In addition, later this year Sabrina will receive the best paper award by the Austrian Academy of Sciences for her high-impact paper. Originally from Germany, Sabrina was one of the first members to join the research group of Kikuë Tachibana-Konwalski. For her PhD project, she rigorously researched the “mother of all cells”, the zygote. She could shed light on the mechanisms underlying natural reprogramming to totipotency – which is also one of the most exciting research questions in the emerging field of stem cell research. Her key discovery was that the mother's egg proteins not only initiate but closely monitor the reprogramming of the father's sperm DNA, generating the genetic blueprint of the single-cell embryo or zygote that eventually will form a whole organism. These findings published in Cell in 2016 also have important implications for human in vitro fertilization. The prize money was sponsored by the Austrian ministry of science and is worth 3000 Euros.


Outstanding PhD project sheds light on the final cut in cell division  


IMBA alumna Beata Mierzwa completed her PhD project in the Gerlich lab in April 2016. She recently moved to the Ludwig Cancer Research Institute, University of San Diego, California for her postdoctoral research. For her PhD project, she explored the properties of the Endosomal Sorting Complex Required for Transport (ESCRT)-III machinery and its role in cytokinetic abscission. ESCRT-III is also interesting for many other biological processes – as this machinery also pinches off viruses from the host cell membrane, and seals holes in cellular and nuclear membranes. She found out that ESCRT assemblies undergo continuous remodeling with rapid subunit turnover, and that the process is orchestrated by a specific enzyme. The Life Science PhD Award by the Austrian Association of Molecular Science and Biotechnology -ÖGMBT- is also the second award for her PhD project. Last year, Beata received the “Kirsten Peter Rabitsch Award” for her findings on the ESCRT-III machinery. Her work yielded in the publication "Dynamic subunit turnover in ESCRT-III assemblies is regulated by Vps4 to mediate membrane remodelling during cytokinesis” that was recently published in Nature Cell Biology. The prize money was sponsored by the biotech company Polymun Scientific and amounts to 1000 Euros.


Both research projects were supported by the The Vienna Biocenter (VBC) PhD Programme, providing students from all over the world with exceptional training and top-level supervisors, and full access to state-of-the-art facilities. Find out more about the VBC PhD Programme