University of Vienna – Department of Structural and Computational Biology

Department of Structural and Computational Biology is at the Center of Molecular Biology, which is part of the Max Perutz Labs, a joint venture between University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna.

From atomistic-level conformational analysis to evolutionary ecology, the research groups in our Department tackle biological questions at different levels of spatial and temporal resolution. Molecular structures and dynamic information obtained by X-ray crystallography, NMR, small angle X-ray scattering and distance-sensitive spectroscopic techniques are extended by a broad blend of biochemical, chemical biology, biophysical and cell biology approaches. Additionally, the first studies employing single-particle electron microscopy and electron tomography combined with correlated light microscopy as well as methodological developments in the field of multipass optical and electron microscopy place us at the very forefront of modern structural biology. These experimental studies are synergistic to computational biology and bioinformatics activities, aimed at integrating the different levels of information to generate comprehensive descriptions of biological function at different spatiotemporal scales. From theoretical and computational analysis of evolutionary history to development and application of biomolecular modeling techniques, these efforts provide a natural, productive complement to the experimental work in the Department.

There is continuous, lively interplay among the groups with expertise in different methodologies, reflecting our belief that understanding the molecular basis of biological function requires integrative structural and computational approaches, which together yield a comprehensive spatial and temporal description of biological processes. Capitalizing on these premises, CD-laboratory for High-Content Structural Biology and Biotechnology established in 2017, is employing a combination of these approaches with the aim to combine the collected information in an information pipeline for both research and biotechnology.

Short biography principal investigator

Dr. Jörg Menche

Dr. Jörg Menche

Jörg Menche began his training as a theoretical physicist and received his PhD from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam (Germany).  He then moved into the field of Network Biology as a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Albert-László Barabási (Northeastern University, Boston, USA). Here he collaborated closely with Joseph Loscalzo (Harvard Medical School) and Marc Vidal (Center for Cancer Systems Biology at Dana Farber Cancer Institute) to layout the theoretical framework for interactome approaches to studying human disease. In 2015, he moved to Vienna to start his own research group at the CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Since then, he has assembled a truly interdisciplinary group composed of members with backgrounds ranging from biology and bioinformatics, to physics, mathematics, and art. In 2020, he moved to the University of Vienna, where he now holds a full professorship at the Max Perutz Labs and the Faculty of Mathematics.

Key Research Facility and Equipment

The Department is equipped with state-of-the-art research infrastructure for experimental and computational work.

Finally, the Department hosts two Max Perutz Labs core facilities: Biooptics – Light Microscopy Facility and Biomolecular NMR Facility. Additionally, several service facilities set up around major technologies are available to our scientists through Vienna Biocenter Facilities (VBCF). These, among others, include electron microscopy, protein-technology, mass-spectrometry, next-generation sequencing and advanced biooptics core facilities.

Current involvement in Research and Training Programmes

Jörg Menche currently supervises five PhD students, one postdoctoral fellow, two data scientists as well as one 3D artist. He is actively involved in his host institute’s PhD program, where he teaches a three-week intensive course on computational biology. Dr. Jörg Menche currently leads one research grant with 5 team members (4 PhD students and one postdoc) as sole beneficiary and one collaborative research grant (one postdoc for his group) as co-principal investigator.