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Start of construction of the Eric Kandel Institute - Center for Precision Medicine

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Foto: APA-Fotoservice/Hörmandinger
from left: Vice-rector Oswald Wagner, AKH-Director Herwig Wetzlinger, Mayor of Vienna Michael Ludwig, Federal Minister for Science Martin Polaschek, Eric Kandel, Vice-rector Michaela Fritz, Denise Kandel, Rector Markus Müller, Head of University Council Eva Dichand, Vice-rector Anita Rieder, Austrian Academy of Sciences President Heinz Faßmann, Vice-rector Volkan Talazoglu

(Vienna, 27 January 2023) Modern conditions for research into the prospects of personalised and digital medicine are being created across more than 6000 m² at the MedUni Campus AKH. By the end of 2026, approximately 200 researchers at the Eric Kandel Institute - Center for Precision Medicine will have the ideal infrastructure to develop preventative, diagnostic and therapeutic methods tailored to individual patients. The institute is to be considered as an essential contribution to securing Vienna's pioneering role as a science centre. The costs of around 90 million euros will be covered by EU funds and donations. With the ceremonial commencement of construction in the presence of the institute's namesake and Nobel laureate Eric Kandel, Minister of Science Martin Polaschek, Mayor of the City of Vienna Michael Ludwig, MedUni Vienna Rector Markus Müller and Vienna General Hospital Director Herwig Wetzlinger, this important project for the future is entering the construction phase.


“It fills me with great pleasure that the new centre bears my name as a particularly important future project of the Medical University of Vienna," says Eric Kandel, Nobel Prize winner and Professor emeritus of Physiology and Psychiatry at Columbia University in New York. “The founding of this institute will ensure that the Medical University of Vienna will continue to hold a leading position in research and innovation worldwide in the future. Due to my many years of scientific work in the field of medicine, I know how important modern framework conditions are as a breeding ground for progress. I hope that the ambience and the infrastructure at the new institute will help my young colleagues to gain fundamental insights into basic biological processes that can further improve patient care.”

Minister of Education, Science and Research Martin Polaschek: "Precision medicine is a central area of future medical research in order to treat diseases in a targeted manner and with as few side effects as possible. With the Eric Kandel Institute for Precision Medicine, we are creating space for this future research project in Austria and offering researchers state-of-the-art infrastructure. The significance of this Centre for Precision Medicine for Austria as a location for science and research is once again clearly underlined by the fact that it is named after the Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel. Eric Kandel produced outstanding scientific achievements and, despite being expelled by the National Socialists, never lost his ties to his native Austria. Thus, this building also stands for the many scientists who had to leave their homeland due to the annexation of Austria. At the same time, the building is a ray of hope for a peaceful democratic future with flourishing science and excellent research."

"The new Center for Precision Medicine will be a very significant contribution designed to ensure that Vienna as a medical location and the Medical University of Vienna continue to play a pioneering role in medicine worldwide in the future. Even today, we are benefiting from the advantages of precision medicine, but it is constantly evolving. This primarily concerns diagnostics, which allows for considerable therapeutic advances. This development is to benefit a number of other medical disciplines and will be extended and deepened by the Centre for Precision Medicine," says Vienna's Mayor and Governor Michael Ludwig. "The fact that this institute is named after Eric Kandel, Nobel laureate and honorary citizen of the city of Vienna, is not only to honour his outstanding achievements in research, but also to express the bond with his home city of Vienna. For his work was always characterised by the concept of understanding and common ground."

"Personalised medicine, i.e. medicine tailored to individual patients, is an approach that is already practised on a daily basis in many disciplines at the university hospitals of MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital," emphasises Markus Müller, Rector of the Medical University of Vienna. "With the Eric Kandel Institute - Center for Precision Medicine at MedUni Campus Vienna General Hospital, the spatial conditions are now being generated to enhance the international position of Vienna as a driving force in precision medicine. This new location will specifically concentrate technologies that are important for the planning, implementation and realisation of precision medicine projects. This is also associated with a contribution to Vienna as a metropolis of innovation and to securing high-quality healthcare for the population."

"Precision medicine brings a paradigm shift in the treatment and therapy of a wide variety of diseases. The completely individual disposition of human beings, influenced by genetics and environmental factors and comparable to a fingerprint, is taken into account in this future field of medical treatment. The direct proximity of the new Eric Kandel Institute - Center for Precision Medicine and the close cooperation between the two institutions, MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital, will be a significant contribution to ensuring that patients at Vienna General Hospital will continue to benefit directly from research findings and be treated according to the latest scientific and technological standards," says Herwig Wetzlinger, Director of Vienna General Hospital.

About the Eric Kandel Institute – Center for Precision Medicine
The more than 6,000 m2 of floor space in the new research building will provide room for various highly specialised units to explore the opportunities of personalised and digital medicine, the two most important trends in medical science in the 21st century. For example, around 500 m2 each are earmarked for computer-based biomedicine projects, technology platforms and a biobank.

From the end of 2026, approximately 200 researchers will be able to advance the development of prevention, diagnosis and therapy options that are adapted to the individual factors of individual patients with the assistance of modern infrastructure. The advancing digitalisation in medicine makes it possible to determine conditions that differ from body to body, e.g. through genome sequencing or molecular imaging.

The Eric Kandel Institute - Center for Precision Medicine is intended to consolidate and expand MedUni Vienna's pioneering role in this field. Personalised measures can be used to treat a wide range of health issues including cardiovascular diseases, mental illnesses, cancer, metabolic, respiratory or infectious diseases.

About the namesake Eric Kandel
With the findings from his scientific work, Eric Kandel (born in Vienna in 1929) created deep insights into the performance of human memory and a molecular understanding of mental processes and psychiatric diseases. In 2000, he received the "Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine" for the discovery of chemical and structural changes in the brain of all learning organisms, from snails to humans.

In 1939, Kandel was forced to immigrate with his family to the USA after the "annexation" of Austria to Nazi Germany and was granted American citizenship in 1945. In 2009, Kandel was made an honorary citizen of the city of Vienna. In 2012, he received the Grand Decoration of Honour in Silver with the Star for services to the Republic of Austria, an honorary doctorate from the University of Vienna in 1994 and an honorary doctorate from the Medical University of Vienna in 2018. Today, Kandel lives in New York.