ASciNA Awards 2009 Ceremony at the Austrian Embassy in Washington, DC - an Event Report

bridges vol.24, December 2009 / Feature Article

by Dietrich Haubenberger

Office of Science and Technology, Embassy of AustriaFor the second time, the ASciNA (acronym for Austrian Scientists and Scholars in North America) Award was awarded to young Austrian scientists for their excellent research conducted at North American research institutions. The ASciNA Award, established in 2008 through the initiative of former ASciNA President Dr. Eva Schernhammer, was awarded last year for the first time by Austrian Federal Minister for Science and Research Dr. Johannes Hahn during the prestigious Wittgenstein Prize Award Ceremony in Vienna, Austria (click here for more information on last year's ceremony).

Office of Science and Technology, Embassy of Austria
Philipp Marxgut welcomes the ASciNA Awards 2009 ceremony participants.
This year, the Office of Science and Technology (OST) at the Embassy of Austria in Washington, DC, hosted the award ceremony. During a festive award ceremony at the Embassy, Philipp Marxgut, OST director and Austrian science attaché to the United States and Canada, welcomed around 60 attendees, many of them Austrian scientists from all parts of the US and Canada, who joined the awardees for their special evening. Attendees also included Dr. Günther Bischof, director of the Center for Austrian Culture and Commerce, University
Prof. Gary Cohen and Ambassador Christian Prosl.
of New Orleans, and Prof. Gary Cohen, director of the Center for Austrian Studies, University of Minnesota, who was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art 1st Class that evening by Austrian Ambassador to the United States Dr. Christian Prosl.

{access view=guest}Access to the full article is free, but requires you to register. Registration is simple and quick – all we need is your name and a valid e-mail address. We appreciate your interest in bridges.{/access} {access view=!guest} The prize is endowed by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science and Research (BMWF ) with $10,000 for each awardee. The ASciNA Award recognizes excellent scientific publications (or projects) by Austrian scholars and researchers in North America that deal with important questions in the fields of natural science and the humanities. The goal is to raise awareness for the
ASciNA President Peter Nagele introducing the 2009 awardees.
achievements of young Austrian scientists in North America  as well as to foster scientific and academic cooperation between Austria and North America. This year's three awardees briefly presented their work to the interested audience during the ceremony in a manner understandable by laymen, after receiving their awards from Ambassador Prosl and ASciNA President Dr. Peter Nagele.

The ASciNA awards 2009 were given out in two categories: students and postdocs were invited to submit in the "Young Scientists Award" category, and a "Junior Principal Investigator Award" was given to scientists who were more advanced in their careers and leading their own research group (Junior Faculty). Scientists from all research fields were invited to submit applications. An independent jury of renowned international scientists, nominated by the Austrian Research Fund (FWF ), reviewed the submissions and selected the awardees. For the 2009 awards, the jury received submissions from 38 scientists from across North America. Due to the high quality of submitted papers in the "Junior PI" category, the jury decided to award this prize to two scientists.

Gerlinde Wernig receiving the "Young Scientist Award".
Gerlinde Wernig, M.D., received the "Young Scientists Award." Dr. Wernig is a fellow at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Stanford University Medical School, Stanford, California, where her research focuses on the development of therapies for leukemias. After receiving her M.D. from the University of Vienna in 1999, Dr. Wernig started her clinical training in internal medicine at the University of Bonn. After completing her residency program, Dr. Wernig joined the Division of Internal Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a research fellow, where she started to work on an animal model of leukemia for testing potential therapies. Dr. Wernig moved to the US west coast in the fall of 2008, where she started her second residency program in pathology at Stanford's Medical School.
Title of publication:  "Efficacy of TG101348, a Selective JAK2 Inhibitor, in Treatment of a Murine Model of JAK2V617F-Induced Polycythemia Vera"
Journal: Cancer Cell 13, 1-10, April 2008

Peter Winzer presenting his award-winning paper.
Peter Winzer, Ph.D., was awarded the "Junior PI Award" for his publication on high-bandwidth data transmission. Dr. Winzer received his Dipl. Ing. and Dr. techn. degrees from the Vienna University of Technology, where he was furthermore awarded the venia docendi (Univ. Doz.). In 2000 Dr. Winzer moved across the Atlantic to join the world-renowned Bell Labs in Holmdel, New Jersey. At this laboratory, which 13 Nobel laureates call their workplace, Dr. Winzer rose to become a "Distinguished Member of Technical Staff" and works on fiber-optic data transmission. His publication list contains more than 150 original articles, including his recent paper on the first 100-Gigabit/sec field trial, which received the ASciNA Junior PI award 2009.
Title of publication:  "100-Gb/s DQPSK Transmission: From Laboratory Experiments to Field Trials"
Journal: Journal of Lightwave Technology, Vol. 26, No. 20, October 15, 2008

Martin Hetzer, one of the Junior PI Awardees 2009.
The second "Junior PI Award" was received by Martin Hetzer, Ph.D., for his publication on processes involved in aging that affect cell nuclei. Dr. Hetzer received his training, including a Ph.D. with honors, at the University of Vienna, where he graduated under Prof. Rudolf Schweyen in 1997. After several years of experience as a postdoc at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Dr. Hetzer joined the Salk Laboratories in La Jolla, California, in 2004. He received an associate professorship in 2009 and is leader of a research group exploring cellular processes of aging, with specific emphasis on degenerative diseases of the central nervous system such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. Before receiving the ASciNA award in 2009, Dr. Hetzer won several research awards such as an Erwin-Schroedinger fellowship, an APART prize, as well as the highly competitive Hearst Endowment.
Title of publication: "Age-Dependent Deterioration of Nuclear Pore Complexes Causes a Loss of Nuclear Integrity in Postmitotic Cells"
Journal: Cell 136, 284-295, January 23, 2009.

The 2008 awardees were Franziska Michor, molecular biologist and mathematician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, and Stefan Dollinger, linguist at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. For further information on the ASciNA Award and how to participate in the ASciNA Award 2010, please visit the web site of the Austrian Scientists and Scholars in North America at: .

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The author, Dietrich Haubenberger, is currently a visiting fellow in the lab of Mark Hallet at the Human Motor Control Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), NIH, one of the world's leading research institutions on the neurophysiology of movement and related disorders such as Parkinson's disease, dystonia, psychogenic movement disorders, and essential tremor.