Fellowships for PhDs and post-docs to bring their inventions into the market.
IST Austria is an institute dedicated to basic research. While its main focus is on conducting science at the highest level, it also has an interest in seeing its scientific discoveries translated into innovations and products.
To this end IST Austria intends to support interested researchers in this translation process. This is driven by IST Austria’s desire to contribute to the public – to which IST Austria owes its existence -, as well as IST Austria’s obligation towards inventors under its IP policy and the requirement to procure third party funds in order to grow to its full target size.
The following guiding principles define the approach of the TWIST Fellowship Program:
Additional Resources to Kick Start Translation
The TWIST Fellowship Program should provide dedicated, additional resources for translational projects. Typically, these would be students or post docs who have completed (or interrupt) their scientific program, or external hires in case a particular skill set is required.
The support of the TWIST Fellowship Program is transitional and intended to help develop projects to a stage where further development in the existing ecosystem of external grants, industry cooperation, business angel investment etc. is feasible. This implies that a concrete objective for each project has to be the acquisition of external funds to continue the development.
Transparency on Research vs. Translational Work
The TWIST Fellowship Program reinforces IST’s principle of maintaining a high degree of transparency on the allocation of resources to research vs. translation oriented work. The focus of research groups on their scientific agenda remains unadulterated.
Open to Entire IST Community
While students and postdocs might be the most relevant audience for the TWIST Fellowship Program, it is intended to be open to any member of the IST community capable of pursuing a translational program based on IST research.
Mentoring and Support
The TWIST Fellowship Program will support the projects through a mentoring program and help project leaders to interact with industry, grant agencies and other necessary external contacts.
Foster Entrepreneurial Drive
The TWIST Fellowship Program is intended to provide our students with an actual entrepreneurial experience which will be a valuable part of their overall education at IST.
Returns to IST
In addition to the intangible benefits of bringing inventions closer to market and educating students, any effort to successfully commercialize inventions will increase the probability of economic payback to IST as the IP to these inventions continues to be held by IST.
Current TWIST Fellowship Projects
TWIST Fellows Joana Enes and Karin Stecher, working with Melanie Pieraks, are combining genetic and cell-based analyses to provide diagnostic information to doctors treating patients with autism and epilepsy. The findings from these analyses will be fed into a precision medicine pipeline to identify new therapeutic targets for these indications, and ultimately lead to development of new therapeutic strategies for patients for whom no treatment options are currently available.
TWIST Prototype Project (2020): Worm Sorting and Screening Using Microfluidics
Jack Merrin, staff scientist in the Nanofabrication facility, is designing and constructing a high throughput microfluidic worm sorting platform. Potential applications of the device are in laboratory research, drug testing and toxicology screens.
TWIST Prototype Project (2020): Evaluation of a Non-invasive Intervention in a Behavioural Mouse Model
Alessandro Venturino from the Siegert Lab is investigating whether a new approach to increasing brain plasticity can positively impact on behavior in a mouse model of depression.