ENROL aims at engineering functional interfaces between inorganic and bio-organic systems in order to push them towards new levels of understanding and technological applications. We thus propose a combined and synergistic effort based on the following three research areas (RA):

  • RA1: Theoretical Prediction, Model Systems, and Analysis (Research Projects 1 to 7): Self-assembly of bio-molecules into desired structures requires a deeper understanding of the interactions of the constituent entities. Here, theoretical approaches (Bianchi, Kahl, Hellmich, Grosu) and the study of model systems (Valtiner) are indispensable to predict these properties. Eventually, new approaches as developed in RA2 demand for new data analysis strategies (Heitzinger, Sablatnig).

Partner organizations: (i) CEST, Labdia GmbH, Carl Zeiss Microscopy GmbH (ii) Utrecht University, Mines/University of Lyon.

  • RA2: Synthesis, Structuring & Instrumentation (Research Projects 8 to 15): Surfaces will be engineered via synthetic polymer chemistry (Baudis, Mihovilovic) or by using techniques based on the self-assembly of (bio‑) molecules and colloidal particles (Sevcsik, Bianchi). Two-photon polymerization will be used to generate 3-dimensionally structured materials (Ovsianikov, Baudis). New chemistry will open the pathway to defined functionalization (Mikula). Novel multimodal imaging approaches will be established for (automated) quantification of (multi-)cellular responses (Schütz, Ertl, Lendl, Marchetti-Deschmann, Thurner, Birner-Grünberger).

Partner organizations: (i) Tagworks, SAICO, GenSpeed, TissUse, Carl Zeiss Microscopy GmbH, Optics11, Lithoz (ii) MedUni Wien, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, ETH,   BINA, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital

  • RA3: Biological Applications (Research Projects 16 to 24): Synthesis and structuring will be guided by specific biological applications. They will be used as experimental validation systems, which enable us to refine and continuously improve the novel interfaces based on functional cell biological readout models, such as multicellular clusters (Ovsianikov, Guillaume, Andriotis), immune cells (Schütz, Sevcsik, Herwig), funghi (Mach, Aigner-Mach), neurons (Wanzenböck), and cardiomyocytes (Birner-Grünberger). 

Partner organizations: (i) 3Helix, Optics11, TissUse, Poietis, Novogymes, Clycostem (ii) MedUni Wien, Agroscope.

These three research areas are highly interconnected to leverage continuous exchange of the latest results and transfer of know-how between the different groups. In consequence, each PhD project is embedded in a stimulating research environment, which will facilitate a continuous process of project adjustments in order to improve the developed materials, the chosen experimental approaches, and the established theoretical prediction algorithms.


Candidates may also propose their own PhD research project, i.e., different from the ones proposed below. In this case the candidates should first establish contact with the supervisor representing this research field and ask for a letter in support of the project, which they will upload together with a summary of the proposed research project. An Ethics Support Team is also in place to assist the candidates during the preparation of their proposed research project should they choose not to apply for one of the proposed ones.