Ralf Schmidt receives ASciNA Award

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(c) ASciNa ascina.at/
(c) ASciNa ascina.at/

The ASciNA Awards are presented annually by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and the ASciNA platform (Austrian Scientists and Scholars in North America) following a review by the FWF. Young researchers are honored for extraordinary achievements during their research activities in the USA. One of the three award winners is Ralf Schmidt from MedUni Vienna’s Clinical Institute of Laboratory Medicine.

"These extraordinary achievements are proof that Austria brings forth very well-trained researchers and can hold its own in international comparison," said Martin Polaschek, Federal Minister of Education, Science and Research, at the award ceremony. Immunologist Ralf Schmidt from MedUni Vienna received the ASciNA "Young Scientist Award", worth EUR 7,500, for his study published in the top journal "Nature" in 2023, which was carried out during his research stay at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco. As first author, he presents a method that - based on the fact that the functions of our organs and cells are controlled by genetic programs - can test hundreds of thousands of such programs in cells of the immune system at once. This allows immune cells, for example, to be therapeutically programmed so that they not only fight infections but also tumors.

About the person:

Ralf Schmidt completed his medical studies at the Medical University of Vienna. As early as his second year, he was fascinated by the world of immunology and specifically the question of how immune cells - above all T cells - can distinguish the body’s own structures from foreign ones. After working as a research assistant and writing his medical thesis at MedUni Vienna’s Clinical Institute of Laboratory Medicine, Ralf Schmidt began his specialist training in laboratory medicine. In 2019, he took up a postdoctoral fellow position at the University of California, San Francisco, and the Gladstone Institutes there, where the first work on CRISPR screening in T cells (Schmidt et al., Science 2022) was carried out. Since 2023, Ralf Schmidt has been back at MedUni Vienna, where he is now setting up his own research group. During this return phase, the now award-winning study (Schmidt et al., Nature 2024) was published.

To the MedUni Vienna press release on the award-winning research work