5 open, fully funded PhD positions,
interconnected research projects
and tandem supervision

It is our overall goal to provide control of metabolism and inflammation on the molecular, intra- and intercellular level in health and disease.

Short introduction of the open PhD projects

The Question: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease represents the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome and is highly associated with diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance. The gut -adipose tissue – liver axis determines Intrahepatic lipid accumulation and inflammation. The crosstalk between these organs are mediated by (adipo)cytokines, circulating fatty acids, hormones and nutrients. How nutrient uptake and hormones are linked in diseases on the molecular and pathophysiological levels is not well understood.

The Goal is to characterize the role of specific hormones in the course of fatty liver disease and to investigate how nutrition modulates this disease on the molecular level.

Tandem Supervision Team

Susanne Kaser (Internal Medicine)
physician scientist, Department of Internal Medicine
Expertise: Clinics and insulin resistance, obesity, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, fatty acid metabolism, growth hormone metabolism
publications
personal website


David Teis (Cell Biology)
basic researcher, Biocenter, Division of Cell Biology
Expertise: Membrane traffic, ubiquitin and signaling, mammalian and yeast genetics, membrane protein degradation, ESCRT machinery and reverse membrane budding, nutrient transporters
publications
personal website

The Question: The interaction of liver-resident macrophages (Kupffer cells) with hepatocytes is essential to maintain liver homeostasis. Our findings suggest a tight cholesterol-regulating cell-to-cell interaction between liver-resident Kupffer cells and hepatocytes (Demetz E et al., Eur Heart J. 2020). How this intercellular interaction  regulates the quantity of circulating low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) during severe inflammation or upon depletion by Kupffer cell-directed chemotherapy is unclear.

The Goal is to gain molecular understanding on how Kupffer cells control LDL-C uptake in hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis and to investigate if and how hepatic Kupffer cell numbers are regulated upon cholesterol accumulation.

Tandem Supervision Team

Ivan Tancevski (Internal Medicine-PS)
physician scientist, Department of Internal Medicine
Expertise: Clinics, atherosclerosis development, lipid metabolism, inflammation, hepatic and whole-body cholesterol metabolome.
publications
personal website


David Teis (Cell Biology)
basic researcher, Biocenter, Division of Cell Biology
Expertise: Membrane traffic, ubiquitin and signaling, mammalian and yeast genetics, membrane protein degradation, ESCRT machinery and reverse membrane budding, nutrient transporters
publications
personal website

The Question: Iron functions at the heart of cellular metabolism. A major route for iron uptake into cells requires clathrin-mediated endocytosis of the transferrin receptor (TfR). Defects in mTORC1 signaling impairs TfR mediated iron uptake and results in anemia development by mechanisms being still elusive.

The Goal: To determine how lysosomal mTORC1 signaling controls iron homeostasis in macrophages and how this regulates iron delivery to erythroid progenitor cells and thus hematopoiesis.

Tandem Supervision Team

Günter Weiss (Internal Medicine)
physician scientist, Department of Internal Medicine
Expertise: Clinics, immune-biology of infections with intracellular bacteria residing in the phago-lysosome of macrophages, immune-metabolism, cellular and systemic regulation of iron homeostasis
publications
personal website


Lukas A. Huber (Cell Biology)
basic researcher,Biocenter, Division of Cell Biology
Expertise:
Cell biology of monogenetic diseases with a focus on lysosomes & LAMTOR, cell models, patient organoids and drug screening. CSO of the Austrian Drug Screening Institute (ADSI) & Center of Personalized Cancer Medicine-Oncotyrol

publications
personal website

The Question: Fatty liver disease is a spectrum disorder affecting up to 50% of the general population. Its manifestations range from asymptomatic non-progressive hepatic triglyceride accumulation to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Lipid droplet accumulation is the hallmark of fatty liver disease and is caused by a massive alteration of the lipid environment, cellular metabolism, and the molecular membrane architecture in all subcellular compartments. The underlying molecular changes of this dramatic morphologic change, the mediators of inflammation, fibrosis, and carcinogenesis are so far only superficially understood.

The Goal is to mechanistically link the changes in lipidome with the occurrence of known and novel genetic risk factors for f atty liver disease by combining tandem mass spectrometric lipidomics (REF) and patient centered and population genetics utilizing state-of-the-art bioinformatics approaches.

Tandem Supervision Team

Heinz Zoller (Internal Medicine)
physician scientist, Department of Internal Medicine
Expertise:
Clinics, hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatology, fatty liver disease
publications
personal website


Markus Keller (Biochemical Genetics)
basic researcher, Institute of Humane Genetics
Expertise:
inherited metabolic diseases, lipids, mass spectrometry, metabolomics/lipidomics, bioinformatics
publications
personal website

The Question: Gastrointestinal homeostasis is strongly dependent on nuclear receptor functions. They play a variety of roles ranging from nutrient uptake, sensing of microbial metabolites, regulation of intestinal epithelial cells function and barrier integrity to shaping of the intestinal immune cell repertoire.

The Goal is to understand how vitamin A regulates the functional interaction between the orphan nuclear receptor NR2F6 and RARa retinoic acid receptor (NR1B) in the healthy as well inflamed gastrointestinal tract.

Tandem Supervision Team

Natascha Kleiter (Translational Cell Genetics)
basic researcher, Division for Translational Cell Genetics
Expertise: Signal transduction in T lymphocytes, nuclear receptor function during immune tolerance and inflammation, mouse disease models of autoimmunity, colitis and cancer
publications
personal website


Alexander Moschen (Internal Medicine)
physician scientist, Department of Internal Medicine
Expertise:
Clinics, gastroenterology,clinically relevant models of intestinal inflammation and infection, metabolism and the microbiome, antimicrobial peptides
publications
personal website