On June 11, 2022, the Bishop Golser Award 2022 was presented in a ceremony at Trostburg Castle, Waidbruck, Italy to Professor Wolfgang Singer of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota for his landmark studies of biomarkers and stem cell therapies in multiple system atrophy.
The award given for excellence in atypical parkinsonian research was sponsored this year by the Multiple System Atrophy Coalition (USA) in partnership with the Bishop Dr. Karl Golser Foundation (Italy).
The Coalition is proud to have sponsored this award and to have the opportunity to work with Professor Singer and support his work in understanding and treating multiple system atrophy.
Below are photos from the ceremony along with translated European news articles covering the event.
“There are no therapies so far”
On Saturday at the Trostburg, the Bishop Dr. Karl Golser Foundation prize was awarded to Professor Wolfgang Singer. The neurologist, who was born in Nuremberg and does research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA, is being honored for his research on atypical Parkinson’s syndromes, from which Bishop Karl Golser also suffered.
Professor Singer, why is Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) considered an atypical Parkinson’s syndrome?
Wolfgang Singer: MSA is a neurodegenerative disease that often has features of Parkinson’s disease, but differs in that other neurological functions are often involved. Additionally, the disease progresses rapidly and is fatal within 7-8 years.
What do we know about the development of the disease?
MSA is caused by the aggregation of the so-called alpha-synuclein protein. This protein is a normal cellular component of the body and brain, however, for reasons that are unclear, a structural change of this protein takes place, which leads to aggregation and accumulation within brain cells. In Parkinson’s disease this occurs mainly in the cell nucleus of nerve cells, while in MSA this abnormal protein is mainly found in the cytoplasm of nerve support cells, the so-called glial cells.
Is an early diagnosis possible? Which other diseases must be differentiated?
Currently, the diagnosis of MSA is based primarily on symptoms and neurological findings. Experts have agreed on consensus criteria that support an MSA diagnosis. In addition, further tests can support the diagnosis, such as tests in the autonomic laboratory and magnetic resonance imaging; however, characteristic findings often only appear in later stages of the disease. The diagnosis of MSA is therefore not easy and misdiagnoses are common. The correct diagnosis is often only made at an advanced stage, when the patient only has a few years left. In the beginning, MSA is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease or other atypical parkinson’s syndromes such as progressive supranuclear palsy. The development of disease markers that facilitate diagnosis and make earlier diagnosis possible is therefore an important topic in my research.
Are there effective therapy options that can slow down the disease?
Current treatment options are purely symptomatic and usually not satisfactory. There are currently no therapies that would slow or stop the progression of the disease. However, several studies are underway to find such therapies. My research team is mainly working on optimizing stem cell therapy for MSA. We have explored the safety and effectiveness of stem cells when given directly into the cerebrospinal fluid. The results were very encouraging, which has now led to the next phase of the study, which is currently being conducted at our clinic.
(Interview with Professor Wolfgang Singer by Univ.-Prof. Dr. Gregor K. Wenning, President of the Bishop Dr. Karl Golser Foundation.)
“Research Excellence Award”
PARKINSON: Bishop Dr. Karl Golser Prize awarded to Prof. Wolfgang Singer – “Therapy and diagnostics have been decisively improved”
BOLZANO June 13, 2022. The prize of the Bishop Dr. Karl Golser Foundation, endowed by the Multiple System Atrophy Coalition (USA) with 10,000 euros, was presented to the neurologist and researcher Prof. Wolfgang Singer on Saturday at the Trostburg in Waidbruck, Italy. The winner was unable to attend due to illness. Born in Bavaria, he teaches and researches at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
The chairman of the South Tyrolean Castle Institute, Baron Carl Philipp von Hohenbühel, welcomed the guests at Trostburg Castle in Waidbruck.
Bishop Ivo Muser said that Karl Golser went from professor to confessor, from teacher to witness. He was a professor with body and soul. As a moral theologian, he often took a stance on human dignity. Bishop Golser suffered from an atypical Parkinson’s syndrome. “Everything that we outwardly associate with dignity was taken from him. In this hour I am thinking of nameless people who are expected to share the same fate. Human dignity is a gift to us, but it is up to all of us to protect it and never trample on it,” said the bishop in his address.
Governor Arno Kompatscher recalled Karl Golser in his video message and called him an important authority that was always looking for a dialogue. He congratulated Prof. Wolfgang Singer on the award. “It is particularly important to us to support research and promotion of atypical Parkinson’s syndromes,” said the governor.
Prof. Martin M. Lintner from the PTH Brixen gave a lecture on the life and work of Bishop Golser.
This year’s award winner, Prof. Wolfgang Singer, was unable to attend the award ceremony due to illness. In a video message, he addressed multisystem atrophy (MSA). It is a rapidly progressing, fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by motor dysfunction. MSA is inexorably progressive. Currently, the diagnosis of MSA is based on symptoms and neurological findings. Treatment options are purely symptomatic. “We therefore urgently need better diagnostic disease markers,” says Prof. Singer. It is a great honor for him to accept this award.
The President of the Bishop Dr. Karl Golser Foundation, Univ. Prof. DDr. Gregor K. Wenning emphasized in his laudatory speech that Prof. Singer had decisively improved therapy and diagnostics. He is an excellent mentor, supporter and coordinator of the global Movement Disorder Society MSA study group. He wished the award winner a speedy recovery and continuation of his excellent research work.
The purpose of the Bishop Golser Foundation is to support people who suffer from atypical Parkinson’s syndromes and everyone who conducts scientific research in these disorders. The foundation is based on the research work of the Medical University of Innsbruck and the Institute for Biomedicine of Eurac Research. Every 2 years, researchers in the field of neuroscience who work on atypical Parkinson’s disease are honored.
Karl Golser was Bishop of the Diocese of Bozen-Brixen, Italy from 2008 to 2011 and suffered from an atypical Parkinson’s syndrome. He died in 2016.
Bishop Dr. Karl Golser Prize for MSA Expert Wolfgang Singer
One of the world’s most valuable prizes for promoting research into atypical Parkinsonian disorders – Bishop Dr. Karl Golser Prize – this year goes to the neurologist Wolfgang Singer. The doctor and researcher from Bavaria has been working at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, USA for many years.
Due to his exceptional scientific achievements in the field of MSA diagnostics, Wolfgang Singer was chosen by the international selection committee and the scientific advisory board of Bishop Dr. Karl Golser Foundation as the 2022 prizewinner. The festive ceremony took place on June 11th at the Trostburg in Waidbruck/South Tyrol in the presence of Baron Carl Philipp von Hohenbühel, Bishop Ivo Muser, South Tyrol’s Governor Arno Kompatscher, EURAC President Roland Psenner, Innsbruck Medical University Rector Wolfgang Fleischhacker and Vice Rector Christine Bandtlow, along with Multiple System Atrophy Coalition Vice Chair Pam Bower. Due to illness, the award winner was unable to attend the award ceremony in person.
“Wolfgang Singer has spent the last 20 years at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota doing extensive research on multiple system atrophy (MSA), an important atypical parkinsonian syndrome. In the work that was the basis for this award, he was able to show for the first time that MSA can be reliably differentiated from other Parkinson’s syndromes by analyzing the proteins alpha-synuclein and neurofilament (a structure-determining component of the axons of nerve cells) – a groundbreaking finding published in the prestigious journal Nature.
Congratulations and we wish you a speedy recovery,” emphasized Gregor Wenning, Head of the Department of Clinical Neurobiology at the University Clinic for Neurology – a leader in Europe in the field of MSA research – and President and initiator of the Golser Foundation in his laudatory speech .
Wolfgang Singer was born in Erlangen, Germany where he graduated from high school and completed his medical studies at the Friedrich-Alexander University in 1996. In 1998, he continued his residency as a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minnesota, eventually specializing in the field of autonomic disorders. In addition to numerous prizes and grants from the Mayo Clinic, Wolfgang Singer has also received an Excellence Scholarship from the Free State of Bavaria.
The goal of the “Bishop Dr. Karl Golser Foundation” is the promotion of research into atypical forms of Parkinson’s. The Bishop of Brixen died at Christmas 2016 from corticobasal degeneration (CBD) an atypical Parkinsonian disorder. Gregor Wenning treated him and, with the express consent of Bishop Golser, initiated the foundation in 2015 together with other colleagues and the Diocese of Bozen. Around 100 patients with an atypical form of Parkinson’s are cared for at the Innsbruck University Clinic for Neurology. The foundation, which receives donations from the South Tyrolean population, will support Wolfgang Singer’s research work with 10,000 euros. The award was co-sponsored this year by the Multiple System Atrophy Coalition and the South Tyrolean Government.
(28.06.2022, Text: D. Heidegger, Photo: Gregor Khuen-Belasi)