Pharmacology and Toxicology
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Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology

Interim Director: Priv.-Doz. Silvia Dossena, Ph.D.

The Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology is located at the Research and Teaching Building of Paracelsus Medical University in the heart of Salzburg. Our institute provides a state-of-the-art research infrastructure with modern lab space and research equipment to host an international team of research scientists and staff.

As a research institute we focus on translational medicine to elucidate disease mechanisms, to identify new drug targets and to develop novel therapeutic strategies. We use interdisciplinary approaches that include modern methods of electrophysiology, molecular biology, protein biochemistry and confocal imaging to study the role of ubiquitin ligases and cellular oxidative stress in the context of various diseases ranging from hearing loss to epilepsy. In addition, we screen and characterize gene mutations in patients with hereditary hearing loss in collaboration with the Department of Otolaryngology of Salzburg General Hospital (SALK).

The Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology of Paracelsus Medical University is committed to excellence in teaching and training of medical and pharmacy students. We offer dedicated pharmacology teaching, ranging from lectures and award-winning e-learning tools to lab internships, bachelor, master or PhD theses.

Research

Genetic and molecular determinants of hereditary hearing loss

The main research focus of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology is the understanding of genetic and molecular mechanisms of syndromic (Pendred syndrome) and non-syndromic malformative hearing loss. In collaboration with the Department of Otolaryngology at SALK (Prof. G. Rasp and Dr. S. Rösch) we have recruited the first Austrian cohort of patients with hearing loss associated with an enlarged vestibular aqueduct (EVA), one of the most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss (Roesch et al. 2018). The SLC26A4 gene, coding for the anion exchanger pendrin, is frequently mutated in the context of Pendred syndrome and non-syndromic EVA. Goal of the research is the precise understanding of the molecular derangements leading to loss of function of pathogenic variants of the pendrin protein, including structural alterations, cellular mis-localization, aberrant turnover and altered gene transcription. The possible contribution of additional genes, including but not limited to connexins GJB2, GJB3 and GJB6, as well as transcription factors such as FOXI1 and POU3F4, in determining malformative hearing loss is also investigated. We also strive to identify novel hearing loss gene and gene modifiers that could explain the disease phenotype in undiagnosed patients. Ultimate goal is to identify novel molecular targets, pathways and strategies for the development of future therapies for hearing loss.

The Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology holds the approval for diagnostic gene analysis issued by the Bundesministerium für Arbeit, Soziales, Gesundheit und Konsumentenschutz, Austria (approval number: BMASGK-76120/0007-IX/B/16c/2018). The genes analyzed are GJB2, GJB6, SLC26A4 and POU3F4, all of which play a fundamental role in determining sensorineural hearing loss associated with malformations of the inner ear. Additional genes are analysed for research purposes.

Key publications

Bernardinelli E, Roesch S, Simoni E Marino A, Rasp G, Astolfi L, Sarikas A and Dossena S. Novel POU3F4 variants identified in patients with inner ear malformations exhibit aberrant cellular distribution and lack of SLC6A20 transcriptional upregulation. Front Mol Neurosci. Sept 2022.

Roesch, S; Bernardinelli, E; Nofziger, C; Tóth, M; Patsch, W; Rasp, G; Paulmichl, M; Dossena, S; Functional Testing of SLC26A4 Variants-Clinical and Molecular Analysis of a Cohort with Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct from Austria. Int J Mol Sci. 2018; 19(1):

Pera A, Dossena S, Rodighiero S, Gandía M, Bottà G, Meyer G, Moreno F, Nofziger C, Hernández-Chico C, Paulmichl M. Functional assessment of allelic variants in the SLC26A4 gene involved in Pendred syndrome and nonsyndromic EVA. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008;105:18608-18613.

Dossena S, Bizhanova A, Nofziger C, Bernardinelli E, Ramsauer J, Kopp P, Paulmichl M. Identification of allelic variants of pendrin (SLC26A4) with loss and gain of function. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2011;28:467-76.

Oxidative stress in human disease and aging

Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) are highly reactive chemicals normally produced by the cellular metabolism or following exposure to environmental stressors and xenobiotics. When ROS accumulate beyond the endogenous antioxidant capacity of biological systems, a condition called oxidative stress (OS) ensues. OS underlies several pathophysiological conditions including diabetes mellitus, hearing loss, epilepsy, and aging. The scope of the research is the identification of cellular and molecular targets of OS, with emphasis on ion channel and transporters, and the use of antioxidants to counteract the detrimental effect of OS on a cellular level.

Key publications

Remigante A, Spinelli S, Straface E, Gambardella L, Caruso D, Falliti G, Dossena S, Marino A, Morabito R. Açaì (Euterpe oleracea) Extract Protects Human Erythrocytes from Age-Related Oxidative Stress. Cells. 2022 Aug 3;11(15):2391.

Remigante A, Spinelli S, Basile N, Caruso D, Falliti G, Dossena S, Marino A, Morabito R. Oxidation Stress as a Mechanism of Aging in Human Erythrocytes: Protective Effect of Quercetin. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Jul 14;23(14):7781.

Remigante A, Spinelli S, Trichilo V, Loddo S, Sarikas A, Pusch M, Dossena S, Marino A, Morabito R. d-Galactose induced early aging in human erythrocytes: Role of band 3 protein. J Cell Physiol. 2022 Feb;237(2):1586-1596.

New teaching media in medicine / Learning analytics

The Internet and the ubiquity of mobile devices open up new didactic opportunities for teaching in higher education. Using quantitative (surveys) and qualitative (focus groups, interviews) methods, we investigate the prevalence and use of digital learning media among today's students and their potential and limitations for knowledge acquisition and transfer. Another research focus is the collection, analysis and evaluation of digital data in the learning context (learning analytics). The goal is the evidence-based development of analysis algorithms in order to dynamically measure the level of knowledge and learning progress of students, to uncover potential problem areas and thus to contribute to the optimization of the teaching and learning process in pharmacology.

Key publications

Kühbeck, F; Berberat, PO; Engelhardt, S; Sarikas, A. Correlation of online assessment parameters with summative exam performance in undergraduate medical education of pharmacology: a prospective cohort study. BMC Med Educ. 2019; 19(1):412

Gutmann J, Kühbeck F, Berberat PO, Fischer MR, Engelhardt S, Sarikas A. Use of learning media by undergraduate medical students in pharmacology: a prospective cohort study. PLoS One. 2015;10:e0122624.

Kräenbring J, Monzon Penza T, Gutmann J, Muehlich S, Zolk O, Wojnowski L, Maas R, Engelhardt S, Sarikas A. Accuracy and completeness of drug information in wikipedia: a comparison with standard textbooks of pharmacology. PLoS One. 2014;9:e106930.

Kühbeck F, Engelhardt S, Sarikas A. OnlineTED.com - a novel web-based audience response system for higher education. A pilot study to evaluate user acceptance. GMS Z Med Ausbild. 2014; 31: Doc5.

Teaching

The Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology of Paracelsus Medical University is committed to excellence in teaching and training of medical and pharmacy students. We offer some of the best pharmacology teaching, ranging from lectures and award-winning e-learning tools to lab internships, bachelor, master or PhD theses. 

In collaboration with the Technical University of Munich we have initiated and developed Pharmacases.de, an award-winning peer teaching and open access e-learning platform of pharmacology. Please visit Pharmacases.de for more information.

Prof. Sarikas and his team has developed OnlineTED, a web-based audience response system for higher education. Please visit onlineTED for further information.

The Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology offers the following online teaching systems:

The Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology participates in the following lectures and seminars at Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg: 

Human Medicine diploma program

  • Lecture “Pharmacology and Toxicology”

Bachelor`s degree study Pharmacy

  • Lecture “General Pharmacology A”
  • Lecture “General Pharmacology B”

Research services

The Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology offers the following methods and analyses as part of scientific collaboration projects for academic institutions and companies:

 

Electrophysiology Facility

State of the art patch-clamp set-up composed of an EPC 10 USB amplifier (HEKA, Germany), pneumatic anti-vibrating table, piezoelectric micromanipulator (Scientifica), inverted phase contrast microscope (Motic AE31) equipped with epi-fluorescence and FITC and TRITC emission filters for identification of transfected cells, perfusion system with ALA VC4 valve commander and vacuum pump, Macintosh computer running the PatchMaster acquisition software. Users will have access to a horizontal puller (Sutter Instruments) and a microforge (Narishige) for construction of electrodes and to a biosafety level II cell culture room.

Electrophysiology Facility

 

Advanced Molecular Imaging Facility

State of the art true confocal system, equipped with 4 lasers (Diode, Argon, DPSS, Helium/Neon) giving 8 excitation lines (405, 458, 476, 488, 496, 514, 561, 633 nm), conventional and resonant scanner for fast acquisition speed, acousto-optical beam splitter (AOBS) for better transmission of the emitted light, acousto-optical tunable filter (AOTF) for fine control of laser power, 3 photomultipliers (PMTs) with spectral detectors for free choice of the emission window and one hybrid detector (hyD) for optimal signal-to-noise ratio acquisition in the red emission region, 5 objectives (10x, 20x, 40x and two 63x) including one 63x water immersion objective for imaging of living samples, temperature, humidity and CO2 control. The confocal microscope is housed in a biosafety level II laboratory room equipped with one biosafety level II hood, one cell culture incubator, fridge, freezer, one small fume hood, one system producing type III deionized water.

Advanced Molecular Imaging Facility

 

Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) assay

Single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) assays determine prevalence and genotype one or more SNPs in a given cohort. Genomic DNA is extracted from no more than 350 ul of peripheral blood using the automated EZ1 Advanced XL platform (Qiagen) and subjected to real-time PCR with allele-specific primers and a probe-based reporter system on a Rotor Gene Q instrument (QIAGEN), which can run 72 samples simultaneously.

 

Analysis of subcellular localization and protein-protein interaction

Localization of a protein within a given subcellular compartment or co-localization of two or more proteins within a cell are useful strategies to unravel protein function, interaction, and trafficking. Co-localization of native or recombinant proteins in living or fixed cells is quantified and statistically analyzed to disclose differences between protein variants or different conditions. Markers of cellular compartments, including nucleus, plasma membrane, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi complex, mitochondria, and autophagosomes permit the identification of the specific subcellular compartment of a protein. Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) permits the identification and characterization of direct interactions beween protein pairs in living or fixed cells in various experimental conditions. Molecular imaging is performed with a Leica TCS SP5 II confocal microscope equipped with 4 lasers and 8 excitation wavelengths (405, 458, 476, 488, 496, 514, 561, 633 nm).

News

 

November 8, 2022: Priv.-Doz. Silvia Dossena, Ph.D. and Dr. Sebastian Rösch guest editors of a special issue on hearing loss in the Journal of Clinical Medicine

Priv.-Doz. Silvia Dossena, Ph.D. (Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology) and Dr. Sebastian Rösch (University clinic, ENT department) were appointed guest editors of a special issue on hearing loss with the title "Integration of Clinical and Molecular Studies in Understanding the Pathogenesis of Hearing Loss: From Cause to Cure" in the Journal of Clinical Medicine (2021 IF: 4.964). Manuscripts can be submitted until February 23, 2023.


October 31, 2022: Special Issue in Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology

The editors Priv.-Doz. Silvia Dossena, Ph.D. (Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, PMU), Dr. Alessia Remigante and Prof. Rossana Morabito (University of Messina, Italy) and Dr. Paola Gavazzo (National Research Council, Genova, Italy) published a special issue in the journal Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology (2021 IF: 6.081) with the title "Ion Transporters and Channels in Cellular Pathophysiology". More information about the special issue and the editorial can be found here.

 

June 30, 2022: Paracelsus teaching award for the best lecture in the 3rd study year

The Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology was again awarded with the Paracelsus teaching prize for the best lecture in the 3rd study year. Priv.-Doz. Silvia Dossena, Ph.D. received the prize on behalf of Prof. Sarikas during a student´s summer festivity.

 

September 21, 2021: Best Poster Award and CNR Short Term Mobility Grant 2021 for Alessia Remigante, Ph.D.

Alessia Remigante, Ph.D., was awarded the "Best Poster Prize" at the 71st Congress of the Italian Physiological Society (Milan, September 7-9, 2021) for her poster: "Kir2.1. channels in an oxidative stress-related model of aging neurologlia". In addition, she received a Short Term Mobility Grant from the Italian National Research Council (CNR) to continue her research at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at PMU Salzburg this year. We congratulate to this great success!

 

September 6, 2021: Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology honored with three teaching awards

The Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology was honored with the prestigious Paracelesus Medical University Teaching Award 2020/21 in three award categories:

  • Best teacher: Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Antonio Sarikas
  • Best lecture: Pharmacology
  • Best online teaching: Pharmacology

The teaching awards are bestowed once a year by the students of Paracelsus Medical University. Priv.-Doz. Dr. Silvia Dossena accepted the awards on behalf of the institute director Prof. Sarikas during a festive award on August 30, 2021. We are very grateful about this award!

 

September 1, 2021: PD Silvia Dossena, Ph.D. confirmed guest editor of Journal Antioxidants

Priv.-Doz. Silvia Dossena, Ph.D., research scientist at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, was confirmed guest editor of the journal Antioxidants (current IF: 6.312) for the special issue "Oxidative Stress and Antioxidants in Aging". Provisional deadline for submission is December 31st, 2021, and will likely be extended. More information can be found here.

 

October 8, 2020: report about PMU300 section editors (PMU300.at drug substance list) in Paracelsus Today

Paracelsus Today 2/20

 

June 18, 2020: PMU Science Award 2020 in bronze

Priv.-Doz. Silvia Dossena, Ph.D. is receiving the Paracelsus Science Award in bronze for her scientific publications in 2019. This year, the awarding of the prize is taking place at the virtual Science Summer, starting on June 26, 2020.

 

June 13, 2020: Interview of Professor Sarikas with the Salzburger Nachrichten

Salzburger Nachrichten June 13, 2020

 

February 12, 2020: PD Dr. Dossena appointed Guest Editor of Journal Antioxidants

Privatdozentin Dr. Silvia Dossena, PhD, research scientist at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, was appointed guest editor for the special issue "Cellular Oxidative Stress" of the journal Antioxidants (IF 4,520). Manuscripts can be submitted until June 30, 2020. More information can be found here.

November 8, 2019: PhD degree for Alessia Remigante

Alessia Remigante received her PhD degree in Applied Biology and Experimental Medicine from the University of Messina (Italy) on November 8th 2019 with a dissertation entitled: "Pathophysiological role of the membrane ions transport: role of O-GlcNAcylation in the regulation of cellular volume". Alessia spent 18 months of her research activity at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology of Paracelsus Medical University and was supported by the European Union funded Programma Operativo Nazionale (PON) fellowship of the Ministry of Education, University and Research (Italy).

 

June 26, 2019: Talk by Dr. Kathleen Meyer, IRB Barcelona

Dr. Kathleen Meyer, research scientist at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) in Barcelona, Spain, visited the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology on June 26, 2019, and gave a lecture on "Senolytic Drugs: A potential treatment for fibrotic diseases".

 

June 25, 2019: PMU Science Award 2019 in Gold

At the PMU Science Award ceremony on June 25, 2019, Silvia Dossena, Ph.D., principal investigator at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, received the "Science Award in Gold" for her scientific achievements in 2018.

 

June 28, 2019: "Best Poster Award" for Rapolas Jamontas

On the occasion of this year´s Science Get Together on June 28, 2019 in Nuremberg, the scientific poster of Rapolas Jamontas, master student at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, was awarded the "Best Poster Award".

Former team members

Arnoldas Matulevicius, MA, Erasmus student, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Lithuania

Rapolas Jamontas, Master student, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Lithuania

Jokubas Siuipys, Erasmus student, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Lithuania

Laura Raschke, PMU300 section editor

Christian Puttinger, PMU300 section editor

Andreas Preuschoff, BSc, PMU300 section editor

Team and contact

Priv.-Doz.in Silvia Dossena, Ph.D.
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Interim Director

Phone: +43 662 2420-80560
Mobile: +43 699 14420043
Mail: silvia.dossena@pmu.ac.at
Publications
Elisabeth Mooslechner
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Assistant to the Director

Phone: +43 662 2420-80561
Mobile: +43 699 14420036
Mail: e.mooslechner@pmu.ac.at
Dr. rer. nat. Emanuele Bernardinelli, Ph.D.
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Postdoc

Phone: +43 662 2420-80567
Mail: e.bernardinelli@pmu.ac.at
Publications
Priv.-Doz.in Selma Marie Soyal-Patsch, Ph.D.
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Lecturer

Phone: +43 662 2420-80567

Publications
Florian Huber, B.Ed.Univ., M.Ed.
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Ph.D. Student

Phone: +43 662 2420-80567
Mail: f.huber@pmu.ac.at
Gianluca Mantegna, BA
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology    
Erasmus Student
University of Messina, Italien


Phone: +43 662 2420-80567

Sara Spinelli, MA
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Ph.D. program in Applied Physiology and Experimental Medicine
University of Messina, Italien


Phone: +43 662 2420-80567
Mail: sara.spinelli@pmu.ac.at