Postdoc-Pool Projects University of Graz

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Optimal Control Techniques for Electrocardiology

Contact person:
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Karl Kunisch
Institute of Mathematics and Scientific Computing
E-Mail: karl.kunisch(at)uni-graz.at
Phone.: +43 (0)316 380 – 5162 (-5160)
BioTechMed-Graz Postdoc: Armin Rund, Dipl.-Math. Dr.rer.nat.

Research partners:

  • Assoz. Prof. Priv.-Doz. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Gernot Plank, Institute of Biophysics, Medical University of Graz

New methods will be developed, which allow determining the optimal placement of electrodes for a given number of available electrodes.
This strategy of optimal actuator placement aims at the use of defibrillators of the most recent generation, which are mainly used for pediatric
patients.   The mathematical formulation is based on optimal control of the bidomain equations and recent algorithmic advances for nonsmooth
optimization problems.

Neuroprotective effects and mechanisms of spermidine treatment in different models of Alzheimer`s disease

Contact person:
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Frank Madeo
Institute of Molecular Biosciences
E-mail: frank.madeo@uni‑graz.at
Phone: +43 (0)316 380 – 8878
BioTechMed-Graz Postdoc: Cornelia Sommer-Ruck, Dr.rer.nat. MSc.
Research partner:
  • Rudolf Stollberger, Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr., Institute of Medical Engineering, Graz University of Technology
Background
Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a neurodegenerative disorder and the most common cause of dementia worldwide, is characterized by age-dependent neuronal loss and cognitive decline, accompanied by extracellular accumulation of amyloid-β 42 peptide. The clearance of these deposits is critical for the maintenance of neuronal function – and can be achieved e.g. by autophagy, a lysosomal degradation pathway that can be enhanced by the natural polyamine spermidine.
Project aim
We will take advantage of vertebrate and invertebrate models of AD in order to dissect the impact of spermidine administration on different aspects of neurodegeneration, including ageing and other disease-associated risk factors, as well as short- and long-term memory and further neuronal characteristics. In order to gain a more complex insight into potential impacts of spermidine feeding on AD our studies will be extended to relevant murine models. To complement conventional behavioral and biochemical approaches we will use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as an innovative technique for in vivo analyses of AD scenarios. In order to deepen our understanding of the overall consequences of spermidine administration targeted metabolite- and proteome analyses will be performed.
Following this approach we hopefully provide evidence for and unravel the presently uncharacterized pathways leading to spermidine-induced neuronal protection.

Bacterial metabolite signal molecules in the intestinal microbiota: Who is talking? Who is listening?

Contact person:
Ao. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ellen L. Zechner
Institute of Molecular Biosciences
E-mail: ellen.zechner(at)uni-graz.at
Phone.: +43 (0)316 380 – 5624
BioTechMed-Graz Postdoc: Sabine Kienesberger-Feist, Mag. Dr.rer.nat.

Research partners:

  • MD Martin Blaser, NYU
  • Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. rer. nat. Rolf Breinbauer, Institute of Organic Chemistry, Graz University of Technology
  • Univ.-Prof. Dr.med.univ. Gregor Gorkiewicz, Institute of Pathology, Medical University of Graz
  • Ao.Univ.-Prof. Dr.med.univ. Christoph Hoegenauer, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Medical University of Graz
  • Mag. Dr.rer.nat Sabine Kienesberger, Institute of Molecular Biosciences, University of Graz
  • Univ.-Prof. Dr.med.univ. Herbert Strobl, Institute of Pathophysiology and Immunology, Medical University of Graz
  • Dr. Gerhard Thallinger, Bioinformatics Group, Institute for Knowledge Discovery, Graz University of Technology
  • DK-MOLIN
  • DK Molecular Enzymology
The human gut microbiota is a complex community of microbes with enormous metabolic potential. Bacterial metabolites produced in the intestine act as signal molecules that alter the physiology of both human cells and other gut microbes. Cellular responses unleashed by these signals are important to normal development, health and disease. Microbiota research is an emerging field and so far, few examples of specific bacterial products have been linked to particular functions in this complex ecosystem. We have identified a metabolite produced by a gut resident that can cause enteritis when the human colon is stressed by antibiotic therapy. Our team of researchers from the MUG, UG and the TUG works to understand the ability of this bioactive enteric metabolite to alter composition and activities of the microbial community as well as down-stream host-microbe interactions. We use metagenomic sequencing to assess in detail the composition of the microbial community in stool samples of patients and rodent models of disease. We also analyze gene expression profiles of the host and the microbial community in response to environmental changes such as antibiotic stress or introduction of a pathogen. We expect to clarify the activity of bacterial products in inter-bacterial communication and host interaction pathways and better understand how microbial imbalance actually causes disease.

Role of oral biological barriers in functional drug delivery

Contact person:
Priv.-Doz. Dr. Eva Roblegg
Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences
E-mail: eva.roblegg(at)uni-graz.at
Phone.: +43 (0)316 380 – 8888
BioTechMed-Graz Postdoc: Birgit Teubl, Mag.pharm. Dr.

Research partners:

  • Priv.-Doz. Dipl. Biochem. Dr.med. Eleonore Fröhlich, Core Facility Microscopy, Medical University of Graz
  • Univ.-Ass. Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr.rer.nat. Gerd Leitinger, Institute of Cell Biology, Histology and Embryology, Medical University of Graz
  • Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Johannes Khinast, Institute of Process and Particle Engineering, Graz University of Technology

Drug delivery via the oral cavity is an important area for future research and has – by far - not reached its full potential. This is due to the fact that the oral mucosa integrates excellent barriers (e.g., mucus, enzymes, epithelial cell morphology and immune cells) that interact with drug candidates decreasing their therapeutic potential. Thus, tools, such as nano-carriers are necessary that embed and protect the drug and ferry it to the site of action. However, the relationship between oral biological barriers, nanoparticle uptake/interactions and possible adverse effects is not fully understood, thus, the rational tailoring of nano-carriers is impeded. Hence, this projects aims at gathering a comprehensive knowledge of the physical properties of saliva, mucus and the epithelial cell surface morphology and their interactions with nanoparticles. Additionally, uptake mechanisms of nanoparticles, which determine the fate and also the therapeutic efficacy of the drug candidate, will be studied, and the exact mechanism will be simulated via novel particle-based system simulations.

Facilitating Cognition: The brain enhancing potential of brain stimulation techniques

Contact person:
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Anja Ischebeck
Institute of Psychology
E-mail: anja.ischebeck(at)uni-graz.at
Phone: +43 (0)316 380 – 5118

BioTechMed-Graz Postdoc: Shane Fresnoza, Ph.D
Research partners:
  • Univ.-Prof. DI. Dr. Eugen Gallasch, Medical University of Graz
  • Dr. Monica Christova, FH Joanneum, Graz

Human performance and social success depend critically on the capacity of the human brain to solve complex tasks. Consequently, there is much interest in methods that can non-invasively enhance brain functions. Non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) techniques like transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS), or repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can be used to transiently facilitate or inhibit cortical processing in targeted brain areas. Evaluating the effects of NIBS techniques on brain function and behaviour can provide a better understanding of the human brain. Furthermore, evidence-based NIBS intervention protocols hold clinical potential, for example, in targeting the enhancement of impaired performance in the elderly and children with learning difficulties. In the present project, NIBS techniques are being used to enhance human information processing, such as, for example, motor learning, attention and memory. The efficacy of different brain stimulation protocols on the enhancement of brain function will be evaluated for young (18-35 years) and older healthy adults (55-70 years).

Neurofeedback as a tool for cognitive training in multiple sclerosis

Contact person:
Assoz.-Univ. Prof. Dr. Guilherme Wood
Institute of Psychology
E-mail: guilherme.wood@uni-graz.at
Phone: +43 (0)316 850 – 8541
BioTechMed-Graz Postdoc: Silvia Erika Kober, Mag. Dr.rer.nat.

Research Partners:

  • Assoc.-Prof. PD Dr. Christian Enzinger, Medical University of Graz

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neuroinflammatory disease with a neurodegenerative component, which may lead to physical, cognitive and psychiatric problems. Cognitive deficits can start at an early stage of the disease and compromise central aspects of quality-of-life of MS patients. In this context, neurofeedback (NF) might be an alternative and innovative rehabilitation tool to improve cognitive functions in MS, overcoming some critical draw-backs of traditional cognitive rehabilitation. Using NF, individuals can learn to modulate their own brain activity by means of real-time feedback of different brain parameters, which has positive effects on cognitive and affective functioning. NF has been successfully employed in ADHD, epilepsy, depression, as well as in stroke patients. Similar evidence on MS lacks completely. Within an EU project targeting stroke patients (CONTRAST, FP7-287320), a consortium including the Department of Psychology of the University of Graz developed a full-functional NF system called COALA. COALA covers highly innovative aspects of cognitive rehabilitation such as home-based training, remote supervision, or an easy-to-use and intuitive technology. In cooperation with the Department of Neurology of the Medical University Graz, which has established an ambulatory and an extensive database of MS patients, COALA will be adapted and extended to optimize cognitive rehabilitation in MS. By targeting cognitive functioning through NF, COALA goes beyond the state-of-the-art of cognitive rehabilitation in MS patients and has the potential to improve cognitive functions at low cost and with higher efficiency than traditional cognitive training approaches.

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