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Austrian Society for Allergology and Immunology awards prizes to MedUni Vienna researchers

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(Vienna, 28 November 2016) At this year's annual conference in Innsbruck, the Austrian Society for Allergology and Immunology (ÖGAI) awarded prizes to two researchers from MedUni Vienna for works in the field of immunology. Anna Gieras won the Clemens von Pirquet Prize and Regina Selb received a Dissertation Prize.

Anna Gieras with Winfried Pickl (left) and Rudolf Valenta

Every year, the Austrian Society for Allerglogy and Immunology awards the Clemens von Pirquet Prize for outstanding works in the field of allergy research. This year, the international panel of experts chose Anna Gieras from the Institute of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research at the Medical University of Vienna (currently with the Institute of Immunology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany, AG Immune Regulation, Eva Tolosa). She received the prize for her work entitled "IgE epitope proximity determines immune complex shape and effector cell activation capacity", which has been published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (137 (5):1557-15565, 2015).

Anna Gieras, who was born in Kraków in 1979, studied genetics and microbiology at the University of Vienna. Her interest in allergy research was influenced by her mentor, Rudolf Valenta. Even while she was writing her dissertation at the Institute of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research at the Medical University of Vienna, she was heavily focussed on the molecular determinants of allergy-induced effector cell activation. She was able to continue this research project during her dissertation, demonstrating that the extent of an allergic reaction is determined to a large extent by the number and also the position of IgE epitopes on an allergen. On completing her dissertation, she received a bursary under the "EMBL Interdisciplinary Postdocs" (EIPOD) programme and this enabled her to work on interdisciplinary research projects at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Hamburg. Currently, Gieras is working and teaching at the Institute of Immunology at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, where she is researching the effects of prenatal steroid treatment on immune system development.

Regina Selb with Winfried Pickl and Rudolf Valenta

Another employee of the Medical University, Regina Selb (Department of Ear, Nose and Throat Diseases, currently on a traineeship, GMO Unit, European Food Safety Authority, Parma, Italy), was awarded the ÖGAI Dissertation Prize for dissertations with outstanding scientific content in the field of allergology or immunology, for her work: "Characterisation of the low affinity receptor for IgE, CD23, in allergy".

Regina Selb was born in Feldkirch (Vorarlberg) in 1983. She studied microbiology and genetics at the University of Vienna between 2003 and 2010 and, during her diploma project with Angela Witte at the MFPL, she researched haloalkaliphilic Archaea viruses. Between 2010 and 2015 she completed a PhD in immunology at MedUni Vienna, gaining a distinction. She wrote her thesis at the Department of Ear, Nose and Throat Diseases in an allergology working group led by Verena Niederberger-Leppin. During this period, she investigated, inter alia, the low affinity receptor for immunoglobulin E (IgE), CD23, in allergy. Regina Selb is currently working at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Parma, Italy, where she is writing a new European Guideline on the allergy risk assessment of genetically modified plants for foodstuffs and animal feed.