(Vienna, 20.09.2021) CONGRATULATIONS to Benjamin Salzer, PhD, and Charlotte Zajc, PhD, from our Christian Doppler Laboratory for Next Generation CAR T Cells! Both have won with their publication resulting from their doctoral thesis a first place at the Life Science Research Awards Austria 2021 – Benjamin Salzer (St. Anna Children's Cancer Research Institute (CCRI)) in the category Applied Research, and Charlotte Zajc (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU)/St. Anna CCRI alumna) in the category Excellence and Societal Impact.
In the award-winning publications, Charlotte Zajc, Benjamin Salzer, and colleagues designed novel molecular switches and Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) prototypes. With these new tools, immune cells can be reliably switched on and off and directed more specifically against tumor cells. This reduces the risk of CAR T cells attacking healthy tissue.
The official Award Ceremony took place during the 13th Annual Meeting of the ÖGMBT - Austrian Association of Molecular Life Sciences and Biotechnology on Monday, September 20. The award is supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs.
About Benjamin Salzer
Benjamin Salzer, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Christian Doppler (CD) Laboratory for Next Generation CAR T Cells at St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute, where he also pursued his PhD research under the supervision of Manfred Lehner, PhD. His research focus is in adapting CAR T cell therapies for high-risk childhood tumors by equipping CAR T cells with better tools to precisely fight tumors while sparing healthy tissue. During his studies of medical biotechnology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna, Benjamin Salzer completed several internships at Boehringer Ingelheim and Octapharma. Furthermore, he has been a visiting research scientist at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford. the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (Würdigungspreis – Staatspreis für die besten Diplom- und Masterabschlüsse).
About Charlotte Zajc
Charlotte Zajc, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the CD Laboratory for Next Generation CAR T Cells. She is working in the CD lab’s external module,headed by DI Dr. Michael Traxlmayr, at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU, Vienna). Her research focuses on improving the safety of CAR T cell therapies. Charlotte Zajc develops molecular tools by the use of protein engineering to better control CAR T
cells, e.g. by switching the function of their CARs on and off.
Charlotte Zajc studied medical biotechnology at the BOKU university in Vienna. She pursued her Master and PhD thesis at St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute under the supervision of Manfred Lehner. As a Visiting Researcher, Charlotte Zajc spent six months at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She has received the doctoral program´s BioToP students award in 2019 and the BOKU invention of the year award in 2020.