Research Area
Molecular Networks and Systems Medicine

Research Institution
CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences

Academic Position

Important Grants and Merits
ERC Advanced Investigator Grant, EMBO Member, Fellow of the European Academy of Cancer Sciences, Member of the Germany National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Research Prize of the City of Vienna, Austrian Scientist of the Year 2011

Scientists but also the public are exposed to an ever-increasing flood of information and knowledge which they have to deal with. The problem is not only the amount of knowledge available, but also where to find the right information, and to have access to the most recent scientific results. Pooling information and providing free access could accelerate the scientific output and generation of knowledge, which goes far beyond the profit motive and economical interest of certain companies and publishing houses.

I therefore support the Open Access initiative and a central depository for scientific papers, which guarantees a standardized storage, management and traceability of information and scientific results, especially when knowledge has been gained with the support of tax payer’s money. I have been a promoter of structured digital abstracts - first initiated with FEBS Letters in 2008 while I was one of the editors - as an important step to create computer-readable and language-independent information that democratizes the information flow.

In the meantime PubMed Central became THE digital database of full-text scientific literature in biomedical and life sciences and in my opinion also a great role model for systems biology and systems medicine initiatives. Collecting knowledge from different disciplines, who work on similar problems and scientific questions, as well as interdisciplinary approaches, may lead to faster and more efficient solutions than strictly linear approaches. What is true for the life science might also be valid for other research areas.

With its Open Access policy the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) is at the forefront of this initiative not only in Austria but also internationally. There is still a lot to be discussed, but I am convinced that in a few years from now it will be self-evident that researchers publish their scientific papers Open Access. There needs to be a new perception for the responsibility of scientists towards society, a more transparent and open communication of results that have been produced with tax payer’s money and a common strategy for the collection of general knowledge and the fight against shortcomings and diseases.