Biophysics and Systems Biology

Tobias Bollenbach

Cells ranging from those in the tissues of multi-cellular organisms to single-celled microbes respond to signals in the environment by modifying the expression of their genes. While recent technological advances have enabled us to measure and manipulate such gene expression responses genome-wide, little is known about the high-level capabilities and limitations of the genetic circuits that control these responses. Our long term goal is to gain a deeper, more quantitative understanding of the relation between the signals present in the cell’s environment and the information processing and other events which they trigger inside cells. In particular, we aim to identify general principles that capture key properties of gene regulatory responses. To this end, we combine quantitative experiments, often based on fluorescence measurements in single cells or entire populations, with theoretical approaches from physics. Whenever possible we measure and interpret numbers, rather than pictures or qualitative effects.

Tobias Bollenbach

Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria)
Am Campus 1
A – 3400 Klosterneuburg

Phone: +43 (0)2243 9000-4101

CV and publication list

Bollenbach Group website

Agnieszka Rowinska

Phone: +43 (0)2243 9000-1148

Open Positions
We are continuously looking for outstanding postdocs. Physicists with an interest in biological systems, molecular biologists, and biochemists are particularly encouraged to apply. If you are interested in joining our interdisciplinary lab, please send your application (incl. CV, publication list, 3 reference letters) to e-mail. Exceptional students interested in doing a PhD in our lab are welcome to get in touch with me directly, but should also apply directly at the IST Austria Graduate School.


  • Andreas Angermayr, Postdoc
  • Veronika Bierbaum, Postdoc
  • Marta Dravecka, PhD Student
  • Martin Lukacisin,  PhD Student
  • Karin Mitosch, PhD Student
  • Qin Qi, Postdoc
  • Marcin Zagorski, Postdoc

Current Projects

  • Cellular responses to conflicting signals
  • Mechanisms of drug interaction
  • Physical descriptions of animal development

Selected Publications

  • Bollenbach, T. and Kishony, R. 2011. Resolution of gene regulatory conflicts caused by combinations of antibiotics. Molecular Cell 42, 413-25.
  • Bollenbach, T., Quan, S., Chait, R., and Kishony, R. 2009. Nonoptimal microbial response to antibiotics underlies suppressive drug interactions. Cell 139, 707-718.
  • Kicheva, A.*, Pantazis, P.*, Bollenbach, T.*, Kalaidzidis, Y., Bittig, T., Jülicher, F., and González-Gaitán, M. 2007. Kinetics of morphogen gradient formation. Science 315, 521-525.

*equal contribution


Since 2010 Assistant Professor, IST Austria
2006-2010 Postdoc, Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston
2005-2006 Postdoc, Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Dresden
2005 Guest scientists at the University of Tokyo, Japan
2005 PhD in theoretical Physics, Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Dresden

Selected Distinctions

Since 2013 HFSP program grant
Since 2011 Member of the Young Academy ("Junge Akademie") at the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (2011)
2007-2009 Feodor Lynen Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation (2007-2009)
2005 REES Fellowship, Japan International Science & Technology Exchange Center
2000-2005 Student and PhD Fellowship of the German National Scholarship Foundation (‘Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes’)

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