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Ministry of Science awards Honorary Prize to Martin Zbiral

Award for one of the best dissertations of the past academic year
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(Vienna, 03 December 2021) Martin Zbiral, junior doctor at MedUni Vienna's Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, has been awarded the Ministry of Science's Honorary Prize for one of the best dissertations of the past academic year.

In his study, Zbiral used computerised tomography and electrical impedance tomography to successfully type lung function based on pulmonary compliance curves. The dissertation was based on an experimental in vivo study in an animal model. Klaus Markstaller and Stefan Böhme supervised the work.

Artificial ventilation of patients in acute respiratory failure is a life-saving intervention and is particularly important in the current pandemic. However, mechanical positive-pressure ventilation can itself cause further damage to a severely diseased lung. There is therefore great interest in researching methods that can visually display the functional status of the lung in real time. This offers the prospect of adapting ventilation even more effectively to the current condition of the lungs.
The study was conducted within the framework of an inter-university collaboration funded by the Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF). The aim was to be able to monitor the lungs using a gentle, non-invasive technique called electrical impedance tomography. A further aim was to evolve this technique to describe the functional state of the lungs on a regional basis.

To do this, the filling kinetics of the lung regions were experimentally recorded as curves using computerised tomography and electrical impedance tomography and subjected to multiparametric analysis. From these data, an algorithm was developed to automatically assign pixels in electrical impedance tomography to normally or poorly ventilated regions of the lung. Work is currently underway to translate these results into routine clinical practice.

About the Honorary Prize
Every year since 1990, the Ministry of Science has awarded the Honarary Prize of €3,000 in recognition of the best diploma and master's degrees completed at Austrian universities. This year, the award went to 35 former students from universities, 15 students from universities of applied sciences and two students from teacher training colleges. This was the first year that the award has included teacher training colleges and, starting in 2021, outstanding degrees gained at teacher training colleges are also eligible for the Honorary Prize.

About Martin Zbiral
Martin Zbiral studied human medicine at MedUni Vienna and currently works as a junior doctor at the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine. International placements have taken him to Hamburg and Oulu (Finland). Since 2015 he has been a research associate in the Vienna EIT Cluster and the Lung Research Group of MedUni Vienna's Division of General Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine.

Further award winner at MedUni Vienna
Sandra Erlacher, another MedUni Vienna employee, also received the award. The graduate of the University of Applied Sciences Burgenland and employee of MedUni Vienna's Communication and Public Relations Department wrote her Master's thesis on social media presence in the science sector.