Research Goals

The Institute of Computational Biotechnology is conducting research related to the identification of serum-based DNA markers for chronic and infectious diseases and the development of rapid and cost-effective screening systems for the presence of particular DNA Sequences in the environment. We are also providing services related to high-throughput Bioinformatics analyses. The hardware and software environment which is currently being used is one of the most powerful Bioinformatics facilities in Austria.

Current Projects

  • DNA-based markers identified from Circulating Nucleic Acids (CNA)

    Currently, the diagnostics and monitoring of chronic and infectious diseases in animals and humans is mainly based on the identification of an infective agent. This approach is slowly changing towards the measurement of the reaction of the host to the disease challenge. A new approach is the identification of DNA markers in the serum of diseased production animals (as well as humans), which can be used for the early identification of disease states, ideally before clinical signs emerge.

    This research area is focused on industrial biotechnology enabling (a) the diagnostic of diseases in mammalian systems and (b) developing DNA screening devices for the rapid monitoring of the presence of specific DNA sequences in liquids, especially blood serum, to be used in animal production processes.

    We are working on the commercialization of an early human sepsis test, which can be used to detect the presence of sepsis up to two days before the first clinical signs (i.e. when a blood culture is ordered by the Physician).

    Another topic is the detection of early signs of cancers in humans and dogs.

  • Phylogenetics and Phylogeography

    Another focus in the lab is on the application of statistics and mathematics to evolutionary biology and ecology. We are currently involved in the development of software for phylogenetic methods (e.g. Paradis & Schliep 2019, Revell et al. 2018, Schliep et al. 2017). A main product of this work is the widely used R package phangorn (Schliep 2011).

    Furthermore we develop methods and software to explain the distribution and dispersal of plants and animals (e.g. Daru et al. 2020, Fernandez-Lopez & Schliep 2018).

Current Theses

Maximilian Malek
PhD Thesis

Working title: Generating intermediate MRI datasets with applications in vehicle safety

Stefan Grabuschnig
PhD Thesis

Working title: Discovery of disease related patterns in cell-free DNA


Industrial collaborations

Team Leader

Christoph Wilhelm Sensen
Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Biol. Dr.rer.nat.