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April 27, 2023

Inauguration of Martin Hetzer

Martin Hetzer was appointed as the new president as of January 1, 2023

The ceremonial inauguration of Martin Hetzer took place today at ISTA in the presence of Martin Polaschek, Federal Minister for Education, Science and Research and Johanna Mikl-Leitner, Governor of Lower Austria.

More than 250 representatives from science, politics, and business followed the invitation to the official inauguration of the new president Martin Hetzer at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) in Klosterneuburg. The molecular biologist has been at the helm of the world-renowned research institute since January 1, 2023. For the Vienna-born scientist, taking over this office also marked his return from the US, where he had worked for about two decades, among other leading positions as Vice President of the Salk Institute of Biological Studies.

President Martin Hetzer with the new chain of office. © Anna Stöcher

Inauguration ceremony with prominent participants

The inauguration ceremony was opened by Claus Raidl, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of ISTA, who welcomed the guests to the packed Lecture Hall at ISTA. This was followed by video messages from ISTA staff members, colleagues, and Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen, who already in 2019 called ISTA a “miracle of Austria.” The academic ceremony was hosted by former ORF foreign correspondent and moderator Hannelore Veit, who welcomed Martin Polaschek, Federal Minister for Education, Science and Research, and Johanna Mikl-Leitner, Governor of Lower Austria, as prominent guests on stage.

Martin Polaschek, Federal Minister for Education, Science and Research: “The Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) is a beacon of excellent research and science not only in Austria but also internationally. The success of ISTA is impressive and it fills me with pride to have such an internationally successful institute with outstanding researchers here in Austria. It is once again proof that Austria as a research location is internationally attractive and competitive. I am convinced that ISTA has found an excellent president in Martin Hetzer, who will continue this path of success. I congratulate him on the festive occasion.”

Johanna Mikl-Leitner, Governor of Lower Austria: “The province of Lower Austria is proud to be home to such a renowned research institution of international renown. What researchers from all over the world achieve here every day is outstanding. I wish President Martin Hetzer great success for the tasks ahead of him and thank Tom Henzinger for his pioneering work over the past 14 years for ISTA and for Lower Austria as a home to great research.”

The inauguration ceremony was also attended by Deputy Governor Stephan Pernkopf, who is responsible for science and research in the Lower Austrian government. “ISTA not only contributes greatly to Lower Austria as a location for science, but also directly benefits the people of Lower Austria. I think we can all look forward to its further development, because this is where answers to challenges of the present and the future are being found. I look forward to working with Martin Hetzer and ISTA.”

Prominent guests (from left): Mayor of Klosterneuburg Stefan Schmukenschlager; Deputy Governor Stephan Pernkopf; Govenor of Lower Austria Johanna Mikl-Leitner; President Martin Hetzer; Federal Minister for Education, Science and Research Martin Polaschek. © Anna Stöcher

Ceremonial handover from president to president

The next item on the program of the event took place in Maria Gugging for the first time in the 14-year history of the Institute. It marked the start of a new tradition at ISTA that is intended to preserve and honor the history of the young Institute: the symbolic handover of the presidency by predecessor Thomas Henzinger.

In this ceremony, Martin Hetzer was presented with the Institute’s newly designed chain of office, designed and made by Andreas Palfinger, an award-winning interdisciplinary designer and artist from Austria living in New York. The main piece of the chain is intended to show the convergence of science and technology and features both mechanical and organic forms. The ornaments are inspired by the various scientific disciplines at the Institute. The highlight: each chain link represents one of the Institute’s presidents. The nano-engraving, produced at the Institute, notes the period of office and is framed by the respective field in which the Institute’s leadership is located.

Martin Hetzer and the path to a modern science of the future

In his inauguration speech, Hetzer outlined his goals and vision for the Institute, which has been ranked third in the Nature Index Normalized global research ranking in 2019 and holds a record number of research grants, including many from the prestigious European Research Council (ERC).

First and foremost, this includes the ambitious goal of doubling the number of research groups from the current 73 to 150 by 2036. It is also important to continue breaking down barriers between individual research fields in order to further strengthen interdisciplinary scientific work and pave the way for a modern science of the future.

Martin Hetzer, President and CEO of ISTA: “It fills me with great joy to be able to lead such a renowned research institution. I would like to take this opportunity to express my special thanks to my predecessor Tom Henzinger, who as the first president has paved the way for this outstanding institute in recent years. It is a matter of great concern to me that a culture of free science is being lived at ISTA in every respect. It is often interdisciplinary research projects in particular that are capable of real pioneering work.”

“In its short history, ISTA has already achieved remarkable things. Outstanding scientists from all over the world have been recruited, a research culture of collaboration across disciplinary boundaries has been established, and a vibrant and lively environment has been created in which groundbreaking discoveries are possible.”


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