My research interest lies at the interface of synthetic biology and mammalian physiology in the new research field synthetic physiology.

In past few years, the focus of my work was on the ‘synthetic’ of synthetic physiology and my group established new methods to control signaling pathways, e.g. those activated by receptor tyrosine kinases and GPCRs, and behaviour, e.g. proliferation and survival, of nerve cells, cancer cells and key cell populations involved in metabolism. These methods offer spatial precision, e.g. to activate only selected cells or tissues ex vivo and in vivo, and temporal precision, e.g. to intervene with specific stages during development and disease progression, and included but were not limited to optogenetics.

My work is currently transitioning to the ‘physiology’ of synthetic physiology with a focus on understanding and manipulating cell signaling and cell behavior selectively in tissues affected by degeneration. Our interdisciplinary research builds on application of new molecular tools, such as our light-activated receptors, in animal models (mouse and Drosophila) of disease, including Type I diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

Harald Janovjak received his PhD in single molecule biophysics from the University of Technology Dresden.

After post-doctoral research in the laboratories of Ehud Y. Isacoff at the University of California, Berkeley and Dirk Trauner at the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich in molecular neuroscience and optogenetics, he joined the Institute of Science and Technology Austria.

In 2017, Harald was appointed EMBL Australia Group Leader at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute. His work is centered on manipulating mammalian physiology with synthetic biology with a focus on identifying new approaches for tissue regeneration.

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Morri M, Sanchez-Romero I, Tichy AM, Kainrath S, Gerrard EJ, Hirschfeld PP, Schwarz J, Janovjak H.

Optical functionalization of human Class A orphan G-protein-coupled receptors.

Nat. Commun. (2018) 9: 1950

Kainrath S, Stadler M, Reichhart E, Distel M, Janovjak H.

Green-light-induced inactivation of receptor signaling using cobalamin-binding domains.

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (2017) 56: 4608-4611.

Mitchell JA, Whitfield JH, Zhang WH, Henneberger C, Janovjak H, O'Mara ML, Jackson CJ.

Rangefinder: A semisynthetic FRET sensor design algorithm.

ACS Sensors (2016) 1: 1286-1290.

Sako K, Pradhan SJ, Barone V, Inglés-Prieto Á, Müller P, Ruprecht V, Čapek D, Galande S, Janovjak H, Heisenberg CP.

Optogenetic control of nodal signaling reveals a temporal pattern of nodal signaling regulating cell fate specification during gastrulation.

Cell Rep. (2016) 16: 866-877

Reichhart E, Ingles-Prieto A, Tichy AM, McKenzie C, Janovjak H.

A phytochrome sensory domain permits receptor activation by red light.

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (2016) 55: 6339-6342.

Inglés-Prieto Á, Reichhart E, Muellner MK, Nowak M, Nijman SM, Grusch M, Janovjak H.

Light-assisted small-molecule screening against protein kinases.

Nat. Chem. Biol. (2015) 11: 952-954.

Whitfield JH, Zhang WH, Herde MK, Clifton BE, Radziejewski J, Janovjak H, Henneberger C, Jackson CJ.

Construction of a robust and sensitive arginine biosensor through ancestral protein reconstruction.

Protein Sci. (2015) 24: 1412-1422.

Hühner J, Ingles-Prieto Á, Neusüß C, Lämmerhofer M, Janovjak H.

Quantification of riboflavin, flavin mononucleotide, and flavin adenine dinucleotide in mammalian model cells by CE with LED-induced fluorescence detection.

Electrophoresis (2015) 36: 518-525.

Grusch M, Schelch K, Riedler R, Reichhart E, Differ C, Berger W, Inglés-Prieto Á, Janovjak H.

Spatio-temporally precise activation of engineered receptor tyrosine kinases by light.

EMBO J. (2014) 33: 1713-1726.

Janovjak H, Sandoz G, Isacoff EY.

A modern ionotropic glutamate receptor with a K(+) selectivity signature sequence.

Nat. Commun. (2011) 2: 232.

Janovjak H, Szobota S, Wyart C, Trauner D, Isacoff EY.

A light-gated, potassium-selective glutamate receptor for the optical inhibition of neuronal firing.

Nat. Neurosci. (2010) 13: 1027-1032.