© BrainNet Europe II
BrainNet Europe is a "Network of Excellence" funded by the European Commission in the 6th Framework Program "Life Science" (LSHM-CT-2004-503039). It consists of 19 established brain banks across Europe and is coordinated by the Centre for Neuropathology and Prion Research Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany.
Participant 05: Medical University of Vienna
The Institute of Neurology of the University of Vienna, internationally also known as Obersteiner Institute, is the eldest and exemplary multidisciplinary neuroscience institution in the world. Because of its long-standing clinical connection, the former "Neurological Institute" is now located in the University Hospital (Allgemeines Krankenhaus/AKH) Vienna and continues to work in the tradition of a nationally and internationally recognised link between basic and clinical neurosciences at highest medical and scientific standards. It is committed to diagnostic service, research and teaching, houses the Austrian Reference Centre for Human Prion Diseases, and serves as European and international centre of excellence and expertise.
With sections of neuropathology, neurochemistry/neuroimmunology, and neuromolecular biology, it is the major institution in Austria performing neuropathological examinations for diagnostic, research and teaching purposes. It receives neurosurgical biopsies, CSF specimens for cytology, nerve and muscle biopsies, gut biopsies (vegetative nervous system), and autopsies for detailed neuropathological examination. Thus it is in an ideal position for tissue banking. Many samples are fixed tissue only, but in a part of neurosurgical, nerve and muscle biopsies and autopsies, also fresh tissue is obtained, frozen and stored at -80°C. Occasionally blood and CSF are also available for freezing. From autopsies, mainly AIDS and prion disease brains have been systematically sampled, frozen and stored. In such cases, a detailed neurohistological examination is made on areas immediately adjacent to the frozen specimens, allowing for detailed diagnostic control of samples. A significant body of frozen tissue is already available, in addition to the huge neuropathological collection of histological slides, paraffin blocks and formol-fixed nervous tissues comprising about 15.000 autopsies, 28.000 neurosurgical and 6.500 nerve/muscle biopsies. Finally, a number of cell cultures have been stored, mainly fibroblasts from patients with rare neurometabolic diseases.
Laboratory facilities include own full equipment for neuromorphology including confocal laser microscopy and electron microscopy, neurochemistry including cell culture and FACS, and neuromolecular biology including sequencing. Staffing numbers around 35 at all levels.
Recently, a significant enlargement of the University Hospital, mainly for research laboratories, was agreed upon by the relevant federal and city government bodies. It comprises plans for new laboratories of the Institute of Neurology of about 340m2 for a "Vienna AKH Neuro-Bank". This should house 3 laboratories for tissue, CSF/blood/serum and cell banks, a data base, central lab facilities, and archives with freezers.
Major Research Interests
The Leitmotif of research in the Institute of Neurology Vienna is the molecular pathogenesis of neurological diseases. Major interests include:
Neurodegeneration and prion diseases. This is a well established research topic of importance for neuropathology, neurochemistry, neuromolecular biology and public health. It has achieved significant third-party funding and an excellent publication record. The Institute serves as Austrian Reference Centre for Human Prion Diseases and as coordination centre for several European collaborative projects.
Neuro-oncology. This is a dynamically expanding research area, involving neuropathological and neuromolecular biological diagnosis as well as cell biology.
Genetic-metabolic diseases. This is a well established focus providing neurochemical, neurogenetic and neuroimmunological diagnoses as reference for national and international institutions. Rapid research expansion is foreseen in the next few years.
Inflammatory and viral diseases. This topic has been, and is further addressed with regard to pathogenetic agent-host interaction, in particular cell tropism of viruses for specific neural populations and the pathogenetic role of the immune defense.
Neuromuscular diseases. This is a well established focus providing morphological and molecular diagnoses. Rapid research expansion is foreseen in the next few years.
previous / next