Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Molecular Biotechnology: from the Dynamics of Biological Systems to Applications

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
4.06.00  Biotechnical sciences  Biotechnology   
1.05.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Biochemistry and molecular biology   

Code Science Field
P310  Natural sciences and mathematics  Proteins, enzymology 

Code Science Field
3.04  Medical and Health Sciences  Medical biotechnology 
synthetic biology, bionanomaterials, proteinski origami, designed cellular circuits, mammalian cells, innate immunity, immunotherapy, biosynthesis, monoclonal antibodies
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (73)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  38163  PhD Jana Aupič  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2015 - 2021  66 
2.  29495  PhD Monika Avbelj  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2017  55 
3.  14360  PhD Mojca Benčina  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2021  385 
4.  55265  Elvira Boršić  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Technical associate  2021  11 
5.  33205  PhD Sabina Božič Abram  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Junior researcher  2015 - 2016  42 
6.  18675  Robert Bremšak    Technical associate  2015 - 2016  11 
7.  37380  PhD Karen Butina Ogorelec  Microbiology and immunology  Technical associate  2015  30 
8.  37381  PhD Miša Mojca Cajnko  Chemical engineering  Technical associate  2015  49 
9.  14136  MSc Maja Černilec  Microbiology and immunology  Technical associate  2015 - 2021  50 
10.  34506  PhD Manuela Čitar  Microbiology and immunology  Researcher  2020 - 2021  19 
11.  05236  PhD Vladka Čurin Šerbec  Microbiology and immunology  Researcher  2015 - 2021  258 
12.  53354  Petra Dekleva    Technical associate  2019 - 2020 
13.  28337  PhD Igor Drobnak  Pharmacy  Researcher  2015 - 2017  57 
14.  53421  Hana Esih  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Technical associate  2019 - 2020 
15.  35277  PhD Tina Fink  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2015 - 2021  24 
16.  34529  PhD Vida Forstnerič  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2021  40 
17.  32254  PhD Rok Gaber  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2016  52 
18.  36426  PhD Anja Golob Urbanc  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2021  32 
19.  54624  Tea Govednik  Pharmacy  Junior researcher  2020 - 2021 
20.  17915  PhD Helena Gradišar  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2021  126 
21.  23563  PhD Iva Hafner Bratkovič  Neurobiology  Researcher  2015 - 2021  204 
22.  54676  Filip Ivanovski  Biotechnology  Junior researcher  2020 - 2021 
23.  28881  PhD Karolina Ivičak Kocjan  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2019  55 
24.  52001  Vid Jazbec  Biotechnology  Junior researcher  2018 - 2021  12 
25.  06628  PhD Roman Jerala  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Head  2015 - 2021  1,166 
26.  36853  PhD Lucija Kadunc Polajnar  Neurobiology  Junior researcher  2015 - 2020  43 
27.  55727  Petra Kern  Biotechnology  Junior researcher  2021 
28.  35344  PhD Valerija Kovač  Medical sciences  Researcher  2015 - 2021  18 
29.  38387  Anja Kristl    Technical associate  2015 - 2016 
30.  34069  PhD Duško Lainšček  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2021  141 
31.  37987  PhD Fabio Lapenta  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2018 - 2021  52 
32.  34252  PhD Tina Lebar  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2015 - 2019  66 
33.  39112  PhD Katja Leben  Biotechnology  Junior researcher  2016 - 2021  11 
34.  09354  PhD Matic Legiša  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2021  272 
35.  31709  PhD Ajasja Ljubetič  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  89 
36.  32984  PhD Jan Lonzarić  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2015 - 2017  46 
37.  52428  Sanjin Lulić    Technical associate  2018 - 2020 
38.  17917  PhD Andreja Majerle  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2021  92 
39.  21426  PhD Mateja Manček Keber  Pharmacy  Researcher  2015 - 2021  158 
40.  38960  Tjaša Marolt    Technical associate  2016 
41.  50615  PhD Estera Merljak  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Junior researcher  2017 - 2021  16 
42.  38257  PhD Maja Meško  Biotechnology  Junior researcher  2015 - 2020  13 
43.  23939  PhD Martina Mohorčič  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2021  30 
44.  51485  Sandra Omejec  Microbiology and immunology  Junior researcher  2018 - 2021  13 
45.  53437  Sara Orehek  Neurobiology  Junior researcher  2019 - 2021  16 
46.  17280  Darija Oven    Technical associate  2015 - 2021 
47.  26163  PhD Gabriela Panter  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2016  45 
48.  55818  Jelica Pantović Žalig  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Junior researcher  2021 
49.  38275  Anja Perčič    Technical associate  2015 - 2021 
50.  37589  PhD Tina Tinkara Peternelj  Microbiology and immunology  Researcher  2015 - 2016  38 
51.  39111  PhD Tjaša Plaper  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Junior researcher  2016 - 2021  26 
52.  32113  PhD Jelka Pohar  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2017  94 
53.  50616  Arne Praznik  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Technical associate  2017 - 2018  34 
54.  39048  Jure Prešeren    Technical associate  2016 - 2017 
55.  12060  PhD Primož Pristovšek  Chemistry  Researcher  2015  135 
56.  20345  PhD Uroš Rajčević  Oncology  Researcher  2015 - 2020  116 
57.  55264  Eva Rajh  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Technical associate  2021 
58.  53355  PhD Erik Rihtar  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Junior researcher  2019 - 2021 
59.  54582  Tadej Satler  Biotechnology  Junior researcher  2020 - 2021 
60.  32874  Mojca Seručnik  Biotechnology  Technical associate  2016  28 
61.  33201  PhD Anže Smole  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2016  71 
62.  29086  Boštjan Smrekar  Microbiology and immunology  Technical associate  2015 - 2021  17 
63.  51999  Jaka Snoj  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Junior researcher  2018 - 2021 
64.  38021  Bojana Stevović    Technical associate  2015 - 2018  12 
65.  55061  Tina Strmljan    Technical associate  2021 
66.  38337  PhD Žiga Strmšek  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2020 - 2021  58 
67.  37644  PhD Petra Sušjan  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2021  47 
68.  17281  Irena Škraba    Technical associate  2015 - 2016 
69.  53047  PhD Tamara Šmidlehner  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2019 - 2021  13 
70.  39364  Anže Verbič  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Technical associate  2018 - 2021 
71.  52006  Sara Vidmar  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Junior researcher  2018 - 2021 
72.  52872  PhD Weijun Zhou  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2019  12 
73.  54954  Ana Županič    Technical associate  2021 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0104  National Institute of Chemistry  Ljubljana  5051592000  21,277 
2.  0311  Blood Transfusion Centre of Slovenia  Ljubljana  5053960  1,744 
In the elapsed program period, the program group ''Molecular biotechnology'' has established itself internationally particularly in the fields of synthetic biology and immunology. In the upcoming program period we plan to further intertwine those two research fields. The major focuses of the program will be directed towards: - designed bionanostructures based on biological molecules, - the design of regulatory networks in cells, particularly in mammalian cells, - understanding innate immune responses connected with disease, - the combination of synthetic biology and immunology for the preparation of new therapeutic interventions and other possible uses of synthetic biology tools. Proteins are biopolymers, which perform the majority of functions in the cell. Recently, we published a very innovative principle for modular folding of polypeptides (Gradišar et al., Nat.Chem.Biol. 2013), which represents an important breakthrough in the design of bionanostructures and the foundation for our further research in this field. Within this program proposal, we plan to design modular proteins with the capability of self-assembling in vivo. Further, we plan to decorate our nanostructures with selected protein domains in order to be tested as novel vaccines. Our goal is also to prepare more complex designed protein polyhedra and control their assembly and disassembly. We plan to prepare lattices composed of different polypeptide units. The final goal of this part is to translate our achievements into concrete applications in the fields of medicine, sensors and biosynthesis. In parallel to polypeptide-based materials we plan to develop nanostructures based on DNA and polypeptide-DNA hybrid nanostructures. Cells can be modified for therapeutic purposes by the manipulation of their response to external triggers and intracellular processes. In this program proposal we plan to upgrade our recent achievements in cellular logics (Gaber et al., Nat.Chem.Biol., 2014). In addition, we plan to develop synthetic biology tools based on CRISPR/Cas and TALE to perform logic operations and genome modifications, which represent the bottleneck of the advanced use of synthetic biology in mammalian cell. Innate immune response is extremely important for human health, and is particularly deeply involved in chronic inflammatory diseases. During the next program period we plan to define unknown mechanisms of activation of membrane and cytosolic innate immunity receptors, TLRs and NLRs and the connected signaling pathways. We plan to investigate the relevance of our discoveries  regarding human health in close collaboration with physicians on samples of patients suffering from chronic diseases.
Significance for science
The proposed research program will respond to important issues in the fields of life sciences, especially in medically important processes. In addition, we intend to prepare new synthetic biology tools in both bionanomaterials and cellular logic fields. Such tools will be very useful for researchers in the field of synthetic biology, as well as the broader biotechnology and life sciences in general. Our recent discovery of a new type of modular protein folds and design of cellular logic in mammalian cells using modular DNA-binding proteins, have attracted much attention in the world. That resulted in invitations to lecture at two Gordon Research Conferences in 2014 and to an additional one in 2015. Our publication about the preparation of the tetrahedron was commented on in the journals Nature, Science, Nature Biotechnology, and C&E News, therefore we expect that the upgrade of this successful research will be even more notable. With the preparation of the tetrahedron from one polypeptide chain we opened a new direction of research in the field of bionanotechnology. This discovery is inspired by DNA nanotechnology, but due to the characteristics of the polypeptides and the possibility of preparation of cell factories, has enormous potential for actual applications and for industrial use. The proposed objectives of the program will be a big step towards moving the frontiers of technology and to expand the research groups active in this area. The knowledge about the molecular recognition mechanisms in the immune system is important for the understanding of physiological processes in cells and organisms and essential for drug design. Knowledge about the molecular mechanism of activation of TLRs and NLRs is important for understanding of the functioning of innate immunity. We can expect high-profile publications in reputable scientific journals in the mentioned fields. Understanding of the activation mechanism of innate immunity receptors is one of the fundamental problems of immunology. The implementation of this knowledge in therapeutic applications is very important. Due to the broad role of TLRs in sterile inflammatory processes the relevance of these studies ranges from the fields of autoimmunity, cancer, and neuropathic pain to many other diseases. The innovative combination of synthetic biology and immunology has a great potential to become a fine example of the relevance of synthetic biology for health.
Significance for the country
Based on the high international recognition of the scientific achievements and by providing training to highly qualified personnel, the research program Molecular biotechnology has a substantial direct importance for the society. In the recent years, the pharmaceutical and biotech industry expressed a strong interest for employing our researchers, which is evident from the employment of 9 researchers who have been trained in our program group. Moreover, tens of students that obtained their training within the iGEM project continue their research career in other program groups as well as at top universities abroad. These students represent a bridge between the Slovenian science and science abroad and are potential staff that can return to Slovenia after completion of education. Since 2006 our program group contributed significantly to the promotion of life sciences and science in general to a wider audience through exceptional successes in competitions of research projects. This promoted Slovenia abroad as a country with excellent science and education. Hundreds of publications in newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, web sites etc. around the world as well as in Slovenia have reported about these successes. Through our activities in the promotion of science we already have and will further contribute to inspire young people to study science and technology and try to increase public support for investments in knowledge. The research theme of the program is largely focused on health issues, where we are among the leading in the world in identifying mechanisms of defense against pathogens. We are transferring this knowledge into specific results that can in the future be used to improve human health, not only in Slovenia but also globally. Research in the field of synthetic biology is to a large extent an oriented basic project, where we always keep in mind the potential use of our studies in improving the quality of life, from improving the efficiency of biosynthetic production, reducing environmental burdens as well as energy demands of production to increasing production and improving efficiency, affordability and safety of new treatments. We are planning to convert the results obtained in our research into tangible high-tech products, which we intend to bring to the market in a variety of ways (starting companies, commercialising licenses and patents). Any potentially useful results will be protected by patents, which may allow us to sell licenses or start a business that would commercially exploit these results. Above all, we can expect a quick possibility for commercialization of new diagnostic methods and methods that improve a biosynthesis pathway.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2015, interim report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2015, interim report
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