PhD student Sophia Mair wins prestigious DOC fellowship 

– a strong boost for her scientific career. Currently she is conducting her VASCage research in Canada.

VASCage PhD student Sophia Mair is awarded a Doctoral Fellowship of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (DOC) that now further supports her research for the next two years. In her research, she is looking for new ways to treat calcifying aortic valve disease. More specifically, she wants to find the trigger that causes heart valve cells to turn into bone-forming cells. This inflammatory process leads to calcification of the aortic valves and, without surgical treatment, eventually to death. Sophia Mair’s research is supervised by Dr Can Gollmann-Tepeköylü and Prof Johannes Holfeld at the Medical University of Innsbruck.

First groundbreaking results were recently published in the renowned journal “Circulation” showing that activation of Toll-like receptor (TLR) 3 plays a crucial role in this process (DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.122.063481). Now the research at VASCage with its partners at Medical University of Innsbruck aims to elucidate a heart valve-specific signalling pathway that involves specific glycosylation enzymes. The goal is to finally develop a pharmacological treatment for the devastating aortic valve disease. This could also be an important milestone in the prevention of blood clots and strokes.

Sophia Mair is currently enjoying a research stay in Simon Wisnovsky’s lab at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Before that, she spent half a year in Vienna on a collaborative project with the Penninger group. She is very excited about these inspiring experiences: „Young scholars at VASCage enjoy attractive opportunities to network and train internationally and to learn about the latest methods and techniques through collaboration with world-leading groups.“