• 3700

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research Interests

“What I cannot create, I do not understand.” Richard Feynman (1988)

Cells are the fundamental building blocks of life. Their unique and diverse functions rely on a plethora of chemical and physical processes that are fine-tuned in space and in time. My research lies at the interface of engineering and physiology with a focus on reconstructing these inner cellular workings in health and disease.

My research group has established new engineering methods to "remote control" various processes in cells, including those that are normally activated by hormones or neurotransmitters. The end goal of this work is to balance dysregulated cellular behaviours, in particular the survival of cancer cells and nerve cells. Our methods offer spatial precision (down to micrometers), e.g. to activate only selected cells or tissues ex vivo and in vivo, and temporal precision (down to milliseconds), e.g. to intervene with specific stages during animal development and disease progression. We are currently applying these methods, which include but are not limited to optogenetics, in disease models in cells, the mouse and the fruit fly.

As selected recent achievements, we have reversed the pathological consequences induced by a genetic alteration that is linked to early onset Parkinson's disease (PLoS Genet. 2021), developed the largest and most flexible optogenetic engineering platform (J. Mol. Biol. 2019), unmasked the biochemical capacity of orphan receptor drug targets (Nat. Comm. 2018), and identified a drug candidate that inactivates a key driver of lung cancer growth (Nat. Chem. Biol. 2015). The next major challenge we will tackle is to expand our current capabilities to modify cells and proteins on unprecedented scales, e.g. spanning the entire genome.

For more information, please refer to the the Janovjak Group website (www.janovjak-lab.com) and Harald's vita on his staff member profile.


The Janovjak Group is hiring:
One fully-funded PhD scholarship position is available. Please simply reach out to Harald. Past graduate students of the group have received many awards (see below) and secured excellent and diverse positions, including at prestigious institutions (e.g. twice at Stanford University and the University of Bordeaux) or in industry (e.g. at Roche AG and Takeda Pharmaceutical Ltd.).

The vision of the Janovjak Group:
We aim to be global pioneers in large-scale protein engineering to understand and cure disease.

The core values of the Janovjak Group:
Collegiality: We look after each other and support each other in the best way we can; we interact with our colleagues and the community following the same principles.
Ownership: We strive for excellence and each dedicate ourselves to conducting high quality research; we try to inspire others to do the same.
Bravery: We are fearless when it comes to defining new biomedical problems; we understand that the opportunity to be pioneers is a privilege.

Research Biography

My research has resulted in >80 pulications of which >40 first or senior author publications in, e.g., EMBO Journal, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Chemical Biology, Nature Communications, Angewandte Chemie, or shared senior author publications in, e.g., Nature Communications, Cell Reports and eLife. Our research has been supported by both national research funding sources (e.g. ARC, NHMRC, JDRF Australia) and international sources (e.g. HFSP, EUFP7), with more than AU$7,900,000 competitive grant funding in the past ten years. We have also filed six patent applications in the recent past.

Supervised Students Successes

These are selected HDR Student Awards - in the past five years as of January 2022:

  • Dec 2021 PhD student - Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute Best Graduate Student Research Award
  • May 2020 PhD student - Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Australia Top-Up Scholarship
  • Feb 2020 Visiting student - PROMOS Scholarship, German Academic Exchange Service
  • Dec 2018 PhD student - EMBL Australia Travel Award
  • Dec 2018 PhD student - Best Oral Presentation Award, BPS & MPGPCR Meeting
  • Mar 2018 PhD student - Oral presentation, Gordon Research Seminar Fibroblast Growth Factors in Development & Disease
  • Aug 2017 PhD student - Travel Award, Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS), Young Scientist Forum

Completed Supervisions

Principal Supervision:
>10 HDR students and >20 Honours/MS/BS/Medical students


  • Registered

Research Areas

  • Molecular biosciences

Supervisory Interests

  • Cancer biology
  • Cell biology
  • Genomics
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Molecular biology
  • Next-generation sequencing


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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