October 6, 2017

IST Austria Professor Carl-Philipp Heisenberg receives Lower Austria’s top annual science prize

Developmental biologist recognized for his pioneering research at IST Austria | State of Lower Austria Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner bestowed the prize during the Lower Austrian Science Gala

Councilor Bohuslav, Professor Brainin, State Governor Mikl-Leitner,
Professor Heisenberg, CouncilorSchwarz (from left) (c) Klaus Ranger, 2017

IST Austria Professor Carl-Philipp Heisenberg has received one of two acknowledgement prizes awarded this year by the government of Lower Austria. The “Würdigungspreis” is the highest honor of all science awards conferred by the local government, and recognizes the body of work and overall scientific impact of a scientist. During yesterday’s Science Gala in the Grafenegg auditorium, State Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner conferred the prizes on both the clinical neuroscientist Michael Brainin (Danube University Krems) and the developmental biologist Carl-Philipp Heisenberg (IST Austria).

Heisenberg came to the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) in 2010. As an internationally recognized researcher in the field of molecular developmental biology and one of the Institute’s first professors, he had the opportunity shape the growth and direction of research in the life sciences at IST Austria—a chance that has yielded impressive results. Heisenberg’s work is characterized by his inter-and multidisciplinary understanding of his subject, as well as by his ability to combine observational approaches from different areas such as genetics, biochemistry, and physics. The jury recognized not only the effect of this multi-faceted approach on his research and that of his group, but on his commitment to the development of the laboratory infrastructure for the life sciences.

The research performed by Heisenberg and his group centers on the early phases of embryo development, in particular on how a seemingly unstructured collection of cells (the first stages) transforms itself into the highly organized embryo of the later stages of development. In other words, how do the cells move and order themselves so that in the end, a functional organism emerges? The group primarily works with zebrafish, vertebrate fish that begin their lives outside of the mother zebrafish, as embryos in transparent eggs—a characteristic that allows for relatively easy observation. Moreover, in the stages of early development, the zebrafish embryos resemble those of humans, increasing their scientific significance as a model organism.

Carl-Philipp Heisenberg studied biology at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and at Cambridge University. He earned his doctorate in 1997 from the Eberhard Karl University in Tübingen under the supervision of Nobel Prize Laureate Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard. Following his doctoral research, he held a research position at University College London, then from 2001 to 2010 led a research group at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden. Since 2010, Carl-Philipp Heisenberg has been a professor at IST Austria in Klosterneuburg.

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