This is in no small part due to the outstanding work of the Department of Life Sciences and the excellent reputation that the Institute for Biotechnology has built up in recent years. And this was confirmed by this year’s CHE Ranking, in which the Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology programmes received top scores of between 1.3 and 1.6.
“IMC Krems has demonstrated for years that Lower Austria is also capable of playing a pioneering role in medical and pharmaceutical biotechnology. The exceptional results in the latest CHE university ranking are a tribute to this excellent work. I am very proud that we are able to offer this unique, in-depth degree programme in such a promising discipline as biotechnology here in Lower Austria. The year-on-year increase in the number of applicants reflects the quality of the programme and the dedication of the staff involved,” commented Governor of Lower Austria Johanna Mikl-Leitner.
Internships the springboard for top-level research
Helping people, extending lives: this is the motivation for many of the students enrolled on the Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology degree programme. “The idea of being able to help people with the work I do is fantastic. This is my way of giving something back to the world,” said Klavdija Bastl, a student on the programme. On their internships, students have the opportunity to contribute to research into pioneering methods such as 3D-printed heart tissue or early diagnosis of liver cancer.
Research focusing on the heart, stomach and liver
IMC Krems student Florian Richter did his internship at Sydney University, where he carried out research into the most effective way to create 3D-printed heart tissue. This involved taking patients’ skin cells, using them to create stem cells and then coding these as heart cells. It will be some time before the scientists are able to actually 3D-print heart tissue, but Florian is fascinated by the possibilities these techniques are opening up.
On her internship, IMC Krems student Klavdija Bastl investigated an aspect of stomach cancer, of which there are many different types. Klavdija’s work focused on a particular gene. The cancer can be treated if this gene mutates, but there is currently no cure if it multiplies instead of mutating. The aim of the research was to discover why this occurs, and why one form of the cancer is treatable and the other is not.
Another IMC Krems student, Mathias Binder, worked on basic research into liver cancer. Mathias’s work looked at ways of identifying and measuring proteins in blood. The overall objective of the research was to find out how liver cancer can be diagnosed earlier, which would make it significantly more treatable.
Building on a first-class track record
The interdisciplinary team at the Department of Life Sciences is committed to pushing ahead with application-driven research activities and extending its international research network. Direct involvement in research and the way in which research work feeds into course contents has helped the department to attract numerous international biomedicine pioneers for its teaching activities. These include a Nobel prize winner, a number of professors from international research organisations, and scientists who are part of the international biotechnology scene.
“IMC Krems biotechnology graduates are now well established in Austria and abroad. Over 100 of them have completed PhDs in this country or at foreign institutions, including Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge. More than 100 of our biotechnology graduates work at biotech companies and research organisations in Lower Austria and make a valuable, innovative contribution to research into and the production and development of biotechnology products,” explained head of institute Prof. Harald Hundsberger.