First Austrian Wittgenstein Lecture Held at the Carnegie Institution of Science

Bridges, vol. 33, May 2012 / Noteworthy Information

The first Wittgenstein Lecture took place on April 26, 2012 – coincidentally Ludwig Wittgenstein's 123rd birthday – at the Carnegie Institution of Science in Washington, DC. Jürgen Knoblich, deputy scientific director of the Institute of Molecular Biology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the 2009 Wittgenstein Prize laureate, presented a lecture on "Stem Cells and Cancer – a Deadly Alliance."

As Austria's most generously supported research prize with €1.5 million, the Wittgenstein Prize is awarded annually by the Austrian Science Fund on behalf of the Austrian Ministry for Science for outstanding scientific achievements in all scientific disciplines. The prize money is tied to research activities in the following six years. Knoblich was honored for his scientific work on asymmetric cell division.

His lecture "Stem Cells and Cancer: A Deadly Alliance," cohosted by the Carnegie Institution of Science, the Austrian Science Fund FWF, and the Office of Science & Technology at the Embassy of Austria in Washington, DC, attracted more than 300 guests. The audience learned that, with 1.6 million Americans expected to face cancer in 2012, along with many more people around the world, there is a revolution underway in the field of cancer research. Dr. Knoblich has used the fruit fly, Drosophila, to identify the cellular defects that turn normal stem cells into cancer-initiating cells. He explained the cancer stem cell hypothesis and its impact on treatment and also described how research in fruit flies has solved some of the greatest puzzles in biology, leading to a better understanding of cancer.

A recording of the lecture will be made available shortly via the OST's Web site.

Wittgenstein Prize:
Jürgen Knoblich: