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The Austrian Research and Innovation Talk (ARIT) 2022 took place in Chicago, Il. on September 17, 2022. For the 2022 ARIT Poster Session, the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation sponsored awards for the top three submissions, with a grand prize of EUR 3,000. Submitted abstracts have been hand-selected by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) to have demonstrated transatlantic excellence in research. ARIT 2022 featured discussions on the proliferation of misinformation, effective science communication, and how the scientific community can bridge gaps and turn inequalities into opportunities for growth.
After finishing his studies in Technical Chemistry at TU Wien including a semester abroad at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA) during his Master’s studies, Martin finished and obtained his PhD from the Institute of Applied Synthetic Chemistry in the research group for Molecular Chemistry & Chemical Biology at TU Wien supervised by Assistant Prof. Hannes Mikula and Prof. Johannes Fröhlich. He then joined the labs of Jonathan C.T. Carlson and Prof. Ralph Weissleder at the Massachusetts General Hospital & Harvard Medical School (Boston, USA) for a postdoctoral research stay. In late 2021, Martin returned to TU Wien and is currently postdoctoral researcher in the MikulaLab and mainly focuses on the development of bioorthogonal tools and reactions for in vivo chemistry to be applied in diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.
Moreover, he is working towards turning his academic research into building a start-up. ‘Velaex Technologies’ is a young biotech start-up currently incubated in TU Wien's i²ncubator of the Innovation Incubation Center with the mission to “Bringing Chemistry to Life”. Martin and his team provide methods to novel high-precision cancer therapeutics.
Bioorthogal chemistry allows to perform chemical reactions inside living systems without interfering with the biological processes therein to control the function of (bio)molecules within their native surroundings.
During my Marshall Plan Scholarship at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School we worked on bioorthogonal Turn-Off and developed the new concept of Scission-Accelerated Fluorophore Exchange (SAFE) built around novel bioorthogonal chemical tools to remove fluorescent signal from alive cells and tissues. SAFE is capable of erasing fluorescent signals from live antibody-labeled cells ultra-fast within seconds, critically performing at non-toxic concentrations while being non-destructive and keeping the native cells alive.
SAFE is currently the first and only method that allows for multiplexed spatiotemporal profiling of living cancer cells and tissues and will contribute to our understanding of how the marker population present on cancer cells is affecting its response to therapy in the future.
“I am very honored in making the First Place at the ARIT 2022 poster session and want to thank the Office of Science and Technology Austria, the Austrian Science Fund, and the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation for awarding me with this prestigious price amongst all other great researchers and contributions this year. Many thanks to the mastermind behind this research, Dr. Jonathan Carlson, as well as the whole Weissleder Lab and Mikula Lab and everybody who voted for my poster.”