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Sanofi Foundation honours MedUni Vienna researchers

(Vienna, 22 October 2015) – Sanofi regularly sponsors outstanding research work in the field of medicine via the "Sanofi Foundation for the Advancement of Medical Research in Austria". This prize is awarded every year to the medical universities of Vienna, Graz, Salzburg and Innsbruck. The process kicked off with the awards ceremony at the Medical University of Vienna. Researchers Andreas Kammerlander and Stéphane Ciocchi both received awards.

"I was impressed by the high scientific quality of their respective work," enthused Sabine Radl, CEO Sanofi Austria, who awarded the prizes to the two scientists, accompanied by Rector of MedUni Vienna Markus Müller and Vice-Rector for Research and Innovation of MedUni Vienna, Michaela Fritz.

About the prizewinners and their work

Andreas Kammerlander, (University Department of Internal Medicine II/Cardiology Department, Medical University of Vienna)
"Right ventricular dysfunction, but not tricuspid regurgitation, is associated with outcome late after left heart valve procedure".

Frequently patients develop tricuspid valve insufficiency (TI) following a left heart valve operation. Up until now the prognostic relevance of such TI has not been investigated in any large-scale prospective studies.  
Using a population of 539 patients who had undergone aortic and/or mitral valve operations, the project investigated the influence of significant, or at least moderate, TI on survival. Although the univariate survival analysis showed that significant TI is associated with a poorer prognosis, the multivariate analysis only identified age, the size of the left atrium, a previous bypass operation, diabetes and impaired right ventricular function as significant predictors of survival but not TI of at least moderate severity.
These results raise the question of whether an isolated tricuspid valve operation is indicated for patients with significant TI following left heart valve procedures. 


Stéphane Ciocchi
, (Center for Brain Research, Department of Cognitive Neurobiology, Medical University of Vienna)
"Brain computation. Selective information routing by ventral hippocampal CA1 projection neurons"

The hippocampus routes selective information relating to anxiety.
A fundamental aim of modern neurosciences is to understand the neuronal mechanisms involved in learning and memory under both healthy and pathological conditions. The hippocampus is a cortical region of the brain that is involved in complex emotional and cognitive processes, such as anxiety, motivation or spatial navigation. The hippocampus is directly linked to many regions in the brain via synaptic contacts. In the present research project, we explored how the hippocampus communicates with these specific regions of the brain. Theoretically two basic modes of information transfer were the most probable. On the one hand, the hippocampus might send behavioural information to all regions of the brain and the receiving region would extract the relevant information it required. This could be equated to a radio transmitter that transmits all broadcasts simultaneously, leaving the radio receiver to extract the program it requires. Alternatively, the hippocampus might transmit different kinds of information in a different way and very selectively to different regions of the brain. We found that information relating to anxiety was preferentially transmitted to the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that is involved in decision-making. That makes sense to the extent that our level of anxiety influences our decision-making in many everyday situations.
Analysis of the brain pathways in the hippocampus of rats was achieved using the latest optogenetic (using light to control the activity of neurons) and electrophysiological investigation techniques. Our study identified specific hippocampal pathways. The different specific pathways in the hippocampus could be of key importance in increasing our understanding of pathological changes in the regions of the brain that are involved and of psychiatric disorders.

About the Sanofi Foundation
The Medical Universities of Graz, Innsbruck, Vienna and Salzburg receive a sizeable grant every year. Each medical university identifies its own prizewinners and prizes are awarded retrospectively for the preceding year. The medical universities invite applications for these prizes and applications should be submitted directly to them. Prizewinners are chosen by a board of trustees made up of professors at the universities. Sanofi is represented on these boards of trustees but has no influence upon the decision.

About Sanofi in Germany, Switzerland and Austria
Sanofi is a leading global healthcare company that researches, develops and markets therapeutic solutions oriented to the needs of the patient. In its international Germany-Switzerland-Austria organization, Sanofi has combined its sales and marketing functions for all three national companies. Sanofi is one of the leading suppliers of pharmaceuticals and healthcare solutions in all three markets. Sanofi focuses on solutions for diabetes, vaccines, innovative medicines, over-the-counter healthcare products, emerging markets, animal health and Genzyme. Sanofi is listed on the Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and New York (NYSE: SNY) stock exchanges.