Manuel Rufin

About me

Nature seems to be governed by mechanisms of incredible complexity, interacting over multiple spatial and temporal scales. While earning my bachelors degree in physics at TU Wien, I learned that -at a fundamental level- the forces, particles and fields of physics that govern daily life are well understood individually. Yet, when they interact in big ensembles derivation from first principles often becomes intractable. Over the last few decades, technological advancement has allowed us to start dissecting, probing and analyzing the materials and processes that underlie biological life empirically at a molecular, even atomic, level, unraveling the seemingly unending complexitiy. It was this fact that compelled me to redirect my studies to the life sciences and led to my masters degree in biomedical engineering at TU Wien, completing it in 2020.


In my research as a PhD student and project assistant at the ILSB I focus on the nanoscale mechanics and biology of collagen, structurally the most important molecule in most vertebrates tissues. The research is largely driven by atomic force microscopy (AFM), using the instruments unique capability to not only image but also mechanically probe and manipulate soft tissues at the nanoscale. My current main project focuses on elucidating the kinetics of collagen digestion through specific enzymes, called MMPs. The project is run in close collaboration with the biophysics group of the Institute of Applied Physics (IAP), combining techniques of AFM with those from fluorescence microscopy, allowing for highly specific in-vitro experiments with high spatiotemporal resolution.