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January 9, 2023

New President Martin Hetzer

The molecular biologist becomes the second President of the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA).

After 19 years at the prominent Salk Institute in California, the award-winning molecular biologist returns to Austria to lead the internationally renowned research institute ISTA as President and CEO.

ISTA president Martin Hetzer
Martin Hetzer, second President of the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA). © Peter Rigaud/ISTA

The molecular biologist Martin Hetzer became the second President of the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) on January 1, 2023. He succeeds Thomas A. Henzinger, who built up the Institute over the past 14 years. Hetzer, who was born in Vienna, researched and taught at the internationally renowned Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the University of California San Diego in the U.S.

ISTA president Martin Hetzer
Molecular biologist Martin Hetzer. © Peter Rigaud/ISTA

“I am humbled by the opportunity to lead this vibrant and innovative institution, where the contributions of its faculty, scientists, and staff from 80 countries have helped build its well-deserved reputation as a pioneer in the international science community. I extend my appreciation to Thomas A. Henzinger, my predecessor and the founding President of ISTA. His leadership, accomplishments, and tireless efforts on behalf of ISTA over the last 14 years serve as inspiration and guidance for me,” says the new ISTA President Martin Hetzer. “As we embark on our ambitious goal of establishing 150 research groups by 2036, I will work to ensure that the essential principles that have guided ISTA’s success are sustained and nurtured. I am dedicated to further developing a multi-disciplinary research network in which scientific excellence and innovation can flourish and ISTA scientists can pursue their passion free from external influence.”

International scientific career

Martin Hetzer obtained his PhD in Genetics and Biochemistry from the University of Vienna in 1997. After a formative time as a postdoctoral fellow at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, he moved to California as an Assistant Professor. For 19 years, he pursued his scientific passion at the renowned Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla in various roles, including Professor, Chief Science Officer, and most recently, Senior Vice President. During the course of his scientific activities, he received numerous awards. These include the Senior Scholar Award for Aging from the Ellison Medical Foundation, the Senior Scholar Award from the American Cancer Society and the Transformative Research Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

ISTA president Martin Hetzer
Martin Hetzer embarking on ambitious goals. © Peter Rigaud/ISTA

While Hetzer’s scientific career predominantly took place in the United States, he has always fostered close ties to European and Austrian research and education. He holds positions in the Scientific Advisory Board of the University of Vienna, and on the Board of Directors of the Swiss NOMIS Foundation.

A success story called ISTA

In its short history, ISTA has achieved remarkable success: attracting outstanding scientists from across the globe, building a culture of collaboration and research beyond the boundaries of individual disciplines, and creating a dynamic and vibrant research environment to pursue groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Its commitment to curiosity-driven basic research has already garnered an impressive record-breaking level in research funding, most notably from the prestigious European Research Council (ERC), as well as top placements in global rankings. Today’s 75 research groups mark only the halfway point though. The full expansion is planned to complete in 2036 with 150 research groups and over 2,000 employees.


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