More and more people in our affluent society are affected by metabolic disorders. Metabolic processes not only play a central role in the development of classic metabolic disorders such as diabetes, but are also causally involved in the development of other widespread diseases including infectious diseases, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diseases of the immune system. It is therefore surprising that, compared to other issues, metabolic processes are still relatively unresearched.
Founding of the Cori Institute
The Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW) is taking up this very important topic and, in cooperation with the University of Graz, the Medical University of Graz, and Graz University of Technology, who have been working together on this topic for years within the framework of BioTechMed-Graz, is establishing the Cori Institute for Metabolism Research in the Styrian capital.
An interdisciplinary research approach will make it possible to pursue new avenues of knowledge and to gain surprising insights. Cellular metabolic processes will be systematically, experimentally and molecularly examined and modeled with the help of mathematical methods. Specialists from different disciplines such as medicine, mathematics, computer science, biology, chemistry and engineering will work closely together in the research groups. These new approaches offer hope for the diagnosis and treatment of relevant diseases, although there is still a long way to go. In any case, the first steps have been taken with the founding of the Cori Institute.
Martin Polaschek, Federal Minister for Education, Science and Research says: "The Cori Institute is expanding metabolism research in Graz. Since countless illnesses are caused by metabolic diseases, this is an important field of research whose findings can be used to benefit people. Through the cooperation treaty and the collaboration between the institutions, we have created the basis for research at a level of excellence with a large international reach. In this way, we are also strengthening Styria, and thus the whole of Austria, as a research location."
Research for the people
On Monday, OeAW President Heinz Faßmann, OeAW Vice President Ulrike Diebold and the rectors of the three universities in Graz signed the cooperation treaty to establish the Cori Institute. Heinz Faßmann says: "The founding of the Cori Institute is outstanding and a real milestone for research. The important topic of metabolic diseases will thus be treated in a transdisciplinary manner in a way that has not previously been done in the entire German-speaking area. The research results that will be achieved in the Cori Institute should reach people as quickly as possible. In the future, Cori will also deal with the development of new drugs. We have to build bridges from basic research to application."
The next steps
After signing the treaty, the OeAW will set up a search committee to look for a director for the Cori Institute. Subsequently, the first research groups will be set up, which should start their work in the coming year. Further research groups will be established step by step, and ultimately there will be 10-15 research groups. Votes on the building that will house the Cori Institute are nearing completion.
Strengthening of the Graz location
With the founding of the institute in Graz, the OeAW emphasizes its pan-Austrian character and gives this research international visibility. Excellent researchers now have a new opportunity to distinguish themselves scientifically. Thanks to the cooperation of the three universities in the BioTechMed-Graz network, excellent research conditions can already be found. "I am very pleased that, with the Cori Institute for Metabolism Research, Graz is getting another OeAW institute. Healthcare technology is a scientific and economic strength in Styria. The close cooperation between our universities in the health sector and the establishment of the Cori Institute will further strengthen Styria as a research location," says Barbara Eibinger-Miedl, State Minister for Science and Research.
Rudolf Zechner, Director of BioTechMed-Graz adds: "The Cori Institute represents an additional 'quantum leap' for the already well-established metabolism research in Graz. With the 'excellence incubator' concept of the Cori Institute, it will be possible to bring highly talented young scientists to Graz and to keep the best among them here."
Close cooperation between OeAW and Graz universities
In cooperation with the universities, the OeAW is responsible for the scientific orientation of the Cori Institute in detail and the call for applications for the research groups. Large and expensive infrastructure such as libraries, seminar rooms, special laboratories and IT are used jointly. The participating universities are further expanding the research areas pursued at the Cori Institute as "profile-building areas" and are expanding their range of courses in this regard with a new course in Computational Biology.
Harald Kainz, Rector of Graz University of Technology: "With the Cori Institute for Metabolism Research, we are boosting research into human metabolism and its diseases. It was a good decision by the OeAW to locate this specialist division in Graz. The three BioTechMed universities in Graz cooperate very closely and bring specific expertise to this topic - in experimental and numerical biology and we at Graz University of Technology, for example, in mathematical modelling. I am convinced that we will achieve a scientific force that acts as a magnet for young, international research talent to the Graz location."
Peter Riedler, Rector of the University of Graz: "The bioscientists at the University of Graz have been doing groundbreaking work in basic research for decades. I am extremely pleased that this expertise will be applied even more quickly through the interdisciplinary cooperation in the Cori Institute and that a focus area of the University of Graz, namely BioHealth, is being decisively strengthened."
Hellmut Samonigg, Rector of the Med Uni Graz: "Thanks to its high international visibility in the field of metabolic research - from basic research to clinical research - and the outstanding IT expertise, Graz is particularly suitable for the establishment of the Cori Institute. We are convinced that the bundling of the strengths of the three universities, together with the OeAW, will develop a special appeal far beyond the borders of Austria - a clear advantage in the competition for the best young researchers for the location".
The Cori couple (Gerty Theresa and Carl Ferdinand) are regarded as icons of metabolism research. Both were born in Prague in 1896 and also studied medicine there. In 1921 they were both clinically and scientifically active in Vienna and Graz. They left Austria for the USA in 1922 and received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1947.