The Institute of Molecular Biotechnology in Austria: Building a Center of Excellence in the Heart of Europe

by Caroline Adenberger

In 2003 the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) opened its doors in Vienna, Austria, as a research initiative of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, with the ambitious mission of becoming a leading international research center of excellence in the molecular life sciences.

{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 Vienna Biocenter
The IMBA is located in ideal surroundings within the Campus Vienna Biocenter—a cluster of research enterprises consisting of the University of Vienna, the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP), Intercell, and several other biotech companies. Next door to the IMBA is another recent initiative of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology (GMI), which aims to promote excellence in research in plant molecular biology.

photocredit: ©IMP 2002/tkadletz
With an international team of about 70 outstanding researchers and guaranteed annual funding of €7.27 million from the Austrian government, the IMBA is one of the most interesting scientific enterprises in the Austrian R&D landscape.

Currently, the IMBA has five so-called Senior Scientist Groups, which are equivalent to Howard Hughes Positions, conducting research in the laboratories of this newly founded institution. In addition, there are independent Junior Principal Investigator Groups. Young scientists leading those groups are limited to eight years of research at the IMBA, but after their time as junior group leaders, they may apply for senior positions under conditions of an international competition.

An Austrian Genome Research Center
The IMBA, together with the internationally renowned IMP, makes up the IMP-IMBA Genome Research Center. Research at the IMBA focuses on investigating how animals develop and function and on exploring the molecular mechanisms of human diseases.

The director of the IMBA is Prof. Josef Penninger who is also leading one of the five research groups conducting cutting-edge research in molecular biology and genetics. The basic approach of Penninger's research group is to genetically manipulate and change genes in mice and to determine the effects of these mutations on diseases and on the development of the whole organism.

Scientists at the IMBA work in close collaboration with the researchers at the IMP. The two institutes share all scientific services, and the IMBA laboratories take part in the Vienna Biocenter International Ph.D. program.

Emphasis is placed on academic and technical experience, and scientists and Ph.D. students from more than 30 different nations are currently working at the Vienna Biocenter. Through this program, Ph.D. students are selected from among highly qualified applicants from all over the world and given the opportunity to train and work in different areas at the forefront of modern biology—in the very center of a gradually uniting Europe.

Related Links
Institute of Molecular Biotechnolgy:

Philipp Steger: Austria a Model for Life Sciences and Scientists' Lives: In bridges Vol. 1, 04/20/2004: