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Benedikt Warth

National Node Contact Point


Exposome Austria was officially established at the University of Vienna (UNIVIE) in January 2022 and involves three other partner institutions: Medical University of Vienna (MUW), Medical University of Innsbruck (MUI), and the Environment Agency Austria (EAA). The formation of Exposome Austria goes back to the Autumn of 2019 and is based on the Austrian Human-Biomonitoring Platform, which had been operating successfully since 2007 and, in 2016, became an advisory body to the minister of the environment and regularly reports to the National Council of the Austrian parliament (demonstrating the high importance of innovative biomonitoring and exposome initiatives in the Austrian scientific landscape).

In the near future, two 'Open Lab' infrastructures at the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Innsbruck will be established in close cooperation with the existing mass spectrometry core facilities. In addition, the analytical facilities at the Environment Agency Austria, while not intended to be fully open, are part of the Austrian EIRENE strategy. These centers of excellence for measuring the chemical exposure of population groups examine urine, blood, umbilical cord blood, breast milk, or placental tissue, as well as other environmental samples, applying innovative targeted and non-targeted analytical methods. In addition to the exposure, the biological effects triggered by chemical exposures might be investigated holistically and systematically.

National Node Members

UNIVERSITY OF VIENNA (national coordinator)
Global Exposomics & Biomonitoring

Benedikt Warth is a professor at the University of Vienna, where he founded the „Global Exposomics and Biomonitoring Working Group“ in 2017. Before returning to Austria, he was an Erwin-Schrödinger fellow at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California, where he developed and applied novel metabolomics technology to research questions in the field of cancer research and systems toxicology. His research focus is in the area of omics-scale exposure assessment and analytical food chemistry to better understand the in vivo and in vitro effects of environmental and food contaminants.

Metabolomics, Lipidomics, & Metallomics

Gunda Koellensperger is an analytical chemist focusing on method development in mass spectrometry. Her expertise covers elemental/metal trace analysis, metabolomics and lipidomics and her research focuses on the development of quantification strategies and new streamlined high throughput workflows enabling both absolute quantification, i.e. targeted -omics as well as non-targeted -omics. More recently she got involved in single cell analysis by elemental imaging.


Eva Schernhammer is a professor of Epidemiology at the Medical University of Vienna and head of the Department of Epidemiology. Besides, she holds an Adjunct Professorship of Medicine (Harvard Medical School) and Epidemiology (Harvard School of Public Health). Her major scientific contributions have highlighted the effects of light at night on cancer risk through the melatonin pathway. This work has led to the establishment of a new classification of shift work as a probable human carcinogen by WHO in 2007.

Eva Schernhammer
Neonatal & Pediatric Systems Immunology

Lukas Wisgrill is a resident at the Division of Neonatology and the Pediatric Intensive Care and Neuropediatrics Unit. His current research interests include the neonatal exposome and microbiome and the influence on inflammation and development of extreme premature infants. Further research includes the ontogeny of the neonatal immune system as well as the trained immunity during the transitional phase from the fetal to the postnatal immune system. Currently, he uses system biology approaches to decipher the role of host-microbiome interactions and is establishing a biobank with specimens from premature infants.

Medical Ecology & Environmental Health

The group focuses on medical ecology and environmental health. After five human biomonitoring studies in which perinatal exposure to environmental pollutants was investigated, the focus is now on the metabolism and transport of metals (mercury, iron, lead, cadmium) and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the human placenta. In the search for proteins involved in placental kinetics, the group combines human biomonitoring (HBM) and genetics with basic research on placental (patho)physiology. The aim is to identify genetic variants that are causally related to placental dysfunction and associated pregnancy diseases. A main goal of another research project on placental iron metabolism is the development of an improved therapy for premature babies with low iron levels.

Bioanalytical Mass Spectrometry 

Assoz.Prof. Dr. Herbert Oberacher is an analytical chemist. In 2002 he received his PhD at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. After spending a year as postdoctoral fellow at the University of the Saarland, Germany, he got a position as senior researcher at the Institute of Legal Medicine of the Innsbruck Medical University, Austria. In 2007 he received the “venia docendi” for bioanalysis, and in 2011 he was appointed as Associate Professor. His research focuses on the development of new and advanced techniques for the analysis of bioorganic molecules with special emphasis on nucleic acids and “small molecules”. For this research, he received several national and international awards. He has (co-)authored more than 120 papers in international scientific journals and holds three patents.

Human Biomonitoring 

The aim of human biomonitoring is to determine which substances enter the body and to what extent. The concentrations of substances or their metabolic products (metabolites) are determined using chemical methods. The exposure is recorded independently of the numerous intake routes (e.g. via food, skin contact, environment). The Federal Environment Agency has been running its own human biomonitoring laboratory since 2007 and examines blood samples (plasma, whole blood), urine, fatty tissue, breast milk, and hair samples for environmental pollutants in the ultra-trace range.

Scientific & Strategic Advisory Board

Exposome Austria established a Scientific & Strategic Advisory Board in May 2022 that meets annually and oversees the national RIs development and activities. It involves global research, industry, and opinion leaders who support EIRENE and particularly the Austrian National Node. Apart from the annual board meetings, all members agreed on being consulted on an ‘as needed basis’, especially in the framework of strategic long-term decisions, global harmonization efforts, and political/stakeholder engagement.

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