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Woman power for MedUni Vienna

Three out of four new professors are women
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(Vienna, 28 September 2016) On 1 October 2016, four new professors will be joining MedUni Vienna, including three women and two renowned researchers from abroad: Christine Radtke (plastic and reconstructive surgery), Daniela Pollak-Monje Quiroga (behavioural biology) and Renate Kain (pathology), plus Javier Martinez (Max F. Perutz Laboratories/inflammatory biology).

Christine Radtke (40) comes to MedUni Vienna from the Medical University of Hannover and is a leading expert in plastic and reconstructive surgery, specialising in peripheral nerve surgery and nerve reconstruction, as well as tissue engineering in plastic surgery. She is also very interested in developing new treatment options for malignant soft tissue diseases. "I am keen to develop the scientific area of our specialism by means of international collaboration and to build up an international network combining research, clinical practice and teaching." Radtke has completed research assignments at Yale University (2000 – 2001 and May 2005 – August 2006) and Harvard Medical School (June 2003 – November 2003) and has excellent contacts with these top universities. Furthermore, Christine Radtke has already received several prestigious and high-calibre international prizes. 

Since 2009 – following a three-year postdoc placement with Nobel prize-winner Eric Kandel at Columbia University in New York – Daniela D. Pollak (37) has been working back at MedUni Vienna, where she completed her doctoral studies in 2005. Her research focus is on the use of specific animal models to investigate the neurobiological mechanisms of psychiatric disorders, with the emphasis on depression. The aim is to discover whether a disorder of this type can be identified at the cellular level and whether there are any suitable biomarkers that might help to develop new therapeutic interventions. "There is a great need for this in psychiatric disorders," explains Pollak. The research work is interdisciplinary and involves close collaboration between MedUni Vienna's Department of Psychiatry, the Institute of Neurology and the Center for Brain Research. For the first time, her research group is using the technique known as optogenetics, whereby light is used to selectively influence the activity of different regions of the brain, with the aid of genetically modified cells. Another new aspect is the collaboration with MedUni Vienna's Preclinical Imaging Laboratory (PIL) for the structural and functional in vivo imaging of the brains of laboratory animals.

Renate Kain (54) has been (back) at the Department of Pathology at MedUni Vienna since 2006. After studying medicine in Vienna up until 1986, she spent several years at the Department of Pathology at Aberdeen University. Her aim is to enhance the standing of those pathological specialities with a strong translational aspect, in which MedUni Vienna also leads internationally in the clinical area, such as oncology. She also wants to promote the pathology of non-neoplastic diseases of organs such as the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys, for which postgraduate university courses are planned. “We are leaders in these areas, especially in diagnostics and with high case numbers," explains Kain. She is keen to advance her own research projects in pathology with large-scale projects such as INTRICATE (http://intricate.eu/) and RELENT (http://www.relent.eu/), with significant involvement from leading international institutions. As part of the EU "INTRICATE" project, she was in charge of investigating the effects of infections on autoimmune diseases. The RELENT project is being coordinated by MedUni Vienna and focuses on developing better treatments for chronic autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and vasculitis, for example. 

Javier Martinez (51) studied biology in Argentina. From May 2004 he was Junior Group Leader at the IMBA (Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences) and recently moved to the MFPL Department of Medical Biochemistry. His working group is conducting biochemical in vitro research into RNA metabolism in mammalian cells and also in vivo phenotypic and pathological investigations in mouse models. The discovery of new enzymatic activities with functions in the RNA metabolism helps to explain the disease mechanisms in affected patients, in order to provide new therapeutic approaches. "MedUni Vienna enjoys an excellent reputation amongst the research community – and this is a good fit for me, because my research is moving more and more in the direction of medicine," says Martinez.