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

In the past few years, the focus of my work was on the ‘synthetic’ of synthetic physiology and my group established new methods to control signalling pathways - for example, those activated by receptor tyrosine kinases and GPCRs, and behaviour (e.g. proliferation and survival of nerve cells, cancer cells and the key cell populations involved in metabolism). These methods offer spatial precision (to activate only selected cells or tissues ex vivo and in vivo) and temporal precision (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 signalling and cell behaviour selectively in tissues affected by degeneration. Our interdisciplinary research builds on the 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 as an EMBL Australia Group Leader, hosted at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University, Melbourne. 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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Zhang WH, Herde MK, Mitchell JA, Whitfield JH, Wulff AB, Vongsouthi V, Sanchez-Romero I, Gulakova PE, Minge D,  Breithausen B, Schoch S, Janovjak H, Jackson CJ & Henneberger C.

Monitoring hippocampal glycine with the computationally designed optical sensor GlyFS.

Nature Chemical Biology(2018)​ 14: 861–869.

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 Engl. (2017)​ 56(16), 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 S, 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.