Thomas Vogl receives Elisabeth Lutz Prize of the Academy of Sciences

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Thomas Vogl, research group leader at MedUni Vienna’s Center for Cancer Research, has been awarded the Elisabeth Lutz Prize by the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Vogl’s research focuses on the complex immune response of antibodies, particularly against the intestinal microbiome, in the context of autoimmune diseases and cancer.

Humans are metaorganisms covered by a multitude of microbes known as the "microbiome". These microorganisms influence various aspects of human health, with bacteria in the digestive tract (gut microbiome) in particular influencing various cells of the immune system. If one or more factors of this delicate interplay become imbalanced, this can lead to various diseases - however, the exact mechanisms and possible therapies are only incompletely understood.

The aim of Thomas Vogl’s research is to gain a holistic overview of the interactions of the microbiome with the human immune system. To this end, he combines experimental biology (high-throughput immunoassays carried out by pipetting robots) with artificial intelligence (machine learning, data science). One main focus is on antibodies, of which humans produce large quantities. But which structures of the microbiome are bound by these antibodies and what contribution this has to various diseases (such as Crohn’s disease) is largely unknown. During a research stay at the Weizmann Institute near Tel Aviv, Thomas Vogl used a new method called PhIP-Seq (Phage Display Immunoprecipitation Sequencing) to study human antibodies in unprecedented depth.

With his research group at the Center for Cancer Research at the Medical University of Vienna, he is now applying this powerful technology to decipher the role of the microbiome and the immune system in various diseases (cancer, autoimmune diseases). This approach is broadly applicable, as it enables the detection of a multitude of immune reactions from a single drop of blood. This innovative method has already identified a wealth of new biomarkers that pave the way for the development of new therapeutic approaches.

About the person

Thomas Vogl completed his studies in Molecular Microbiology at the Karl-Franzens-University Graz in 2011; from 2011 onwards he worked on his dissertation at the Graz University of Technology and received his doctorate in February 2015. After research stays at the University of Queensland (Australia, 2015/2016) and at the Weizmann Institute (2017-2021), Thomas Vogl returned to Austria. Since 2022, he has been a group leader and assistant professor at the Center for Cancer Research at the Medical University of Vienna. Prizes and awards (selection): Endeavour Research Fellowship from the Australian Government (2015), Schrödinger Fellowship from the FWF (2018), ERC Starting Grant from the European Research Council (2023), coordinator of the EU consortium "ID-DarkMatter-NCD" (2024)

The Elisabeth Lutz Prize Award

The Elisabeth Lutz Prize is awarded to scientists (up to a maximum of eight years after their doctorate) for basic and application-oriented research in the field of biosciences and life sciences, in particular for new findings or innovative research approaches that could subsequently be helpful for the development of new therapeutic approaches.