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Stephan Salzmann receives Austrian Ministry of Science Honorary Prize

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(Vienna, 16 December 2016) Stephan Salzmann, graduate of MedUni Vienna, was awarded the Honorary Prize by the Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (national prize for the best Bachelor's and Master's degrees).

Stephan Salzmann was awarded the prize in honour of his outstanding study performance (average grade 1.0) and his dissertation entitled "Analysis of NF-κB activity in melanoma cells following treatment with statins".

Melanoma is a malignant disease of the pigment cells (melanocytes) in the skin. This form of skin cancer has a tendency to spread into remote areas of the body (metastasis). Melanoma is the skin disease most likely to lead to death. There has been a marked increase in the number of new cases in the Western world. If caught in the early stages, the disease can be cured by removing the tumour but, once it reaches the later stage, the prognosis is poor. Because of the poor response to treatment and resistance to conventional chemotherapy drugs, new therapeutic approaches are being sought for late stage melanoma.

Statins are a group of drugs that are primarily used to lower cholesterol in lipometabolic disorders. Interestingly, however, this group of substances has been found to have other effects. These include exerting an inhibiting effect on the growth of various types of cancer cells in vitro.
Stephan Salzmann's dissertation looked at the effect of statins on metastasising melanoma cells. Numerous laboratory tests were conducted to investigate the activity of a specific molecule (NF-κB) in the cancer cells following administration of statins. There was found to be a change in the concentration and also the activity of NF-κB in vitro. Since this factor is a central regulator of cell survival and cell death, the results of this dissertation could provide a possible explanation for the observed effects of statins on cancer cells.

About the Honorary Prize
Honorary Prize – national prize for the best Bachelor's and Master's degrees: This national prize, which is worth €3,000 and is funded from the educational grant budget, has been awarded on an annual basis since 1990 in recognition of the best 50 Bachelor's and Master's degrees completed at any of the Austrian universities and polytechnics (out of a total of approximately 16,000 graduates every year). The nominations for these awards come from the universities or from the polytechnic conference. The awards are presented at an awards ceremony that takes place in November each year.

About Stephan Salzmann
Stephan Salzmann was born in Hallein in 1990. He left Saalfelden grammar school with outstanding exam results and went on to complete his National Service as a one-year volunteer. During his studies at the Medical University of Vienna, he worked as a demonstrator at the Institute of Anatomy. As part of his clinical internship year, he completed student placements at George Washington University in Washington DC and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (USA). He wrote his dissertation at the Institute of Pharmacology under the supervision of Martin Hohenegger. In addition to a Max Kade grant from the American Austrian Foundation (AAF), he has received several performance scholarships for his studies (average grade 1.0), which he completed in 2016. Stephan Salzmann is currently working as a research fellow at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City.