Awards – Austrian scholars honored in the United States

Three Austrian researchers working in the United States receive this year’s ASciNA awards. Political scientist Jürgen Braunstein received a prize in the “Junior Principal Investigator” category (EUR 10,000), doctor Sabine Heitzeneder and mathematician Niclas Technau in the “Young Scientist” category (EUR 7,500 each). The prizes are awarded by the Ministry of Education and the association ASciNA (Austrian Scientists and Scholars in North America).

Sabine Heitzeneder (37), a doctor from Upper Austria, has been working since 2016 at Stanford University on childhood cancer immunotherapies.

– © Stanford Cancer Institute

Young researchers are recognized for their work published in the previous year at North American research institutions. The focus is not on the candidates’ passports, but on their connection to Austria, ASciNA President Dietrich Haubenberger stressed during a press conference on Monday evening. The prizes awarded after evaluation by the Austrian Science Fund FWF will be presented on June 22 at the Wittgenstein and Start Prize Ceremony in Vienna.

mobility and networking

“The ASciNA awards underline the importance of transatlantic mobility and networking for the research community in Austria and Europe,” Education Minister Martin Polaschek (ÖVP) explained in a broadcast. The ASciNA network of Austrian researchers in North America, founded 20 years ago, has approximately 1,700 members worldwide.

Jürgen Braunstein (38) is honored for his book “Capital Choices” (University of Michigan Press). He analyzes the creation of sovereign wealth funds by politicians from various countries from a comparative political and economic perspective. Although these sovereign wealth funds are sometimes very important, such as the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund with a capital of US$1 trillion, this is a critical but poorly understood area. Born in the Waldviertel, he trained as a cook and waiter before starting his scientific career. He studied political science at the University of Vienna, obtained his doctorate at the London School of Economics and Political Science and has been a Fellow of Harvard University Kennedy School since 2019, where he is supported by a Schrödinger Fellowship from the FWF.

Childhood Cancer Therapies

Sabine Heitzeneder (37), a doctor from Upper Austria, has been working since 2016 at Stanford University on the development of cellular immunotherapies for childhood cancer. She is looking for tumor-specific proteins that are only present on these forms of childhood cancer, but not on normal tissue. On this basis, she is developing cellular immunotherapies to specifically attack these proteins and therefore the tumour. His excellent work, published in the journal “Cancer Cell”, describes the development of such a therapy, which is used against the tumor antigen Glypikan-2. She is currently working on the clinical implementation of her work, and a phase I study with the first patients with neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma is expected to start in 2023. Heitzeneder completed her medical studies at MedUni Vienna, then worked at the St Anna Children’s Cancer Research Center and the National Cancer Institutes in Bethesda (USA).

Born in Germany, Niclas Technau (29) has been working at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) since 2021. In his award-winning publication, which appeared in the journal “Memoirs of the American Mathematical Society”, he deals with the approximation of real numbers, which are used in engineering, physics and mathematics, for example. Such approximations replace real numbers, such as pi, with a simpler number, such as a fraction. After studying mathematics at the University of Würzburg, he obtained his doctorate at the Technical University (TU) of Graz and has since worked at several universities in Great Britain, Israel and – supported by a Schrödinger scholarship from the FWF – in the United States. (apa)

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