With few exceptions, the courses listed here take place on the IST Austria campus in Klosterneuburg, Austria, and do not accommodate remote participation or distance/e-learning.

Overview tables and schedules can be found here.

For past courses (including spring 2017) please refer to our course archive.

Spring 2018


Biology track core course

Carl-Philipp Heisenberg, Claude-Edouard Hannezo, Eva Benková, Florian Schur, Johann Danzl, Martin Loose, Nick Barton

Every big biological problem has a structural, mechanical, evolutionary, genetic and population side to it. The goal of the biology core course is to illustrate that fundamental biological problems and phenomena can be approached from vastly different angles.
In this course we will bridge different areas in biology to show students how fundamental biological problems and phenomena can be approached from different perspectives.
This year we will discuss one broad topic: Spatiotemporal organization. The instructors will provide a list of papers to be studied, typically in the form of a review paper or something equivalent.

Course typeTrack core
Track segment(s)BIO-CORE
Target audienceStudents planning to affiliate in a biology research group are encouraged to choose this course as their track core course.
Pre-requisitesA background in life sciences is desirable; students without a life-science background are encouraged to attend other life science courses in the fall the Fall semester, or to contact the instructor in due course.
Teaching formatLectures, discussion
ECTS credits6
EvaluationThe final grade is given based on participation (50 %, presentation + discussions) and the written proposal (50%). Deadline for the proposal is June 29th, final grade is given July 16th. Grade and proposal can be discussed with the instructors personally until end of July.
Starts onMon, 26-Feb-2018 (08:45 - 10:00), Mondi 3
Ends onWed, 20-Jun-2018 (08:45 - 10:00), Mondi 3
Withdrawal deadline19-Mar-2018
Course websiteView



Molecular Population Genetics: making sense of sequence data

Beatriz Vicoso, Jitka Polechova, Nick Barton

Advanced course in population genetics to introduce modern research topics. The course consists of six modules on i) selection inference sweeps ii) gene expression iii) speciation genetics / hybrid zones iv) quantitative genetics v) selfish elements vi) comparative genomics / phylogenomics. Each module is taught by a different expert from various institutions in Vienna, providing students with an overview of active research topics. Modules are structured in an intro lecture and two seminar units. Seminars are based on key research papers, computational tools and/or biological data to provide a first-hand insight into current research themes.

Course typeAdvanced
Track segment(s)BIO-EVO, DSSC_QUANT
Pre-requisitesThe modules require some basic knowledge of population genetics, on the level of an intro lecture into population genetics. Interested students who have never attended a population genetics course should contact J. Hermisson in advance for additional preparatory literature. All six assignments need to be fulfilled and contribute with equal weight to the final grade. A “fail” grade in at most one assignment is admitted to pass the course.
ECTS credits6
EvaluationThe grade is based on 6 assignments (one per module), eg an essay on a research paper or research topic (~ 5-7 pages including references and figures).
Course schedulehttps://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1eko2uvkxZMWVcrQ2Q4hLhn38DkulpF46mfJXX7Ihheg/edit#gid=0
VenueUniversity of Vienna, Faculty of Mathematics
Oskar-Morgenstern-Platz 1
A-1090 Vienna, Austria
(details tbd)
RegistrationThis course is cross-listed at IST Austria, the University of Vienna, and the Vetmeduni. Please register at your home institution.
Withdrawal deadline26-Mar-2018
Course websiteView

Computer Science

Computer Science track core course

Krishnendu Chatterjee, Krzysztof Pietrzak, Vladimir Kolmogorov

The goal of the CS core course is to expose students to key ideas in computer science covering randomized algorithms, parametrized algorithms, optimization algorithms, topics in cryptography. The course will cover about six different topics (2 weeks per topic), many of which are centered around either a classical topic or recent research topics.

Course typeTrack core
Track segment(s)CS-CORE
Target audienceStudents planning to affiliate in a computer science research group are encouraged to choose this course as their track core course.
Pre-requisitesA background in basic algorithms is assumed.
Teaching formatmainly lectures from the instructors.
ECTS credits6
EvaluationThe main grading will be based on homework and some course projects. In some parts a written or oral exam may also be conducted.
Starts onTue, 27-Feb-2018 (13:15 - 14:30), Mondi 1
Ends onThu, 21-Jun-2018 (13:15 - 14:30), Mondi 3
Withdrawal deadline20-Mar-2018
Course websiteView

Data Science and Scientific Computing

Data Science and Scientific Computing track core course

Bernd Bickel, Christopher Wojtan, Gasper Tkacik

Format: The course is divided into three 4-week cycles in which students work in interdisciplinary groups under the supervision of a DSSC faculty member. During each cycle, students first learn the necessary background and tools, and are then coached by faculty to tackle a specific DSSC problem or data set in pairs. Evaluation is based on homeworks and written or oral reports at the end of each cycle.


  • cycle 1: building and analyzing predictive models (C. Lampert)
  • cycle 2: understanding and visualizing data (G. Tkacik)
  • cycle 3: numerical simulation of physical systems (B. Bickel)
  • Provide hands-on experience and scientific insight into different DSSC problems and methodologies
  • Learn about evaluation criteria for good models in different fields
  • Build a community of computational / data students by project work
  • Practice the following skills: handling data, extracting knowledge from data, creating models, running numerical simulations, identifying and understanding sources of error, working in mixed background teams, written and oral communication

Course typeTrack core
Track segment(s)DSSC-CORE
Target audience
  • students who plan a PhD on the topic of data analysis, modeling in the life sciences or a data-driven direction of computer science/physics
  • if uncertain if this is the right course for you, please consult the DSSC track representative, your mentor and/or potential future PhD supervisors
  • everything in the general core course
  • Math: multi-dimensional calculus, linear algebra, probabilities
  • Programming in a language that supports numerical computation (Python, Mathematica, C/C++, Matlab)
Teaching formatclassroom lectures and student projects (in small groups)
ECTS credits6
  • homework/exercises (50%)
  • project presentations/reports (50%)
Starts onMon, 26-Feb-2018 (10:15 - 11:30), Mondi 2
Ends onWed, 20-Jun-2018 (10:15 - 11:30), Mondi 2
Minimum attendance4
Withdrawal deadline19-Mar-2018
Course websiteView


Neuroscience track core course

Jozsef Csicsvari, Maximilian Jösch, Peter Jonas

The goal of the neuroscience core course is to teach students basic concept of neuroscience and provide them a general overview of the structures, functions and building blocks of the brain - from molecules to systems. Students will experience conceptual ideas behind classic and novel discoveries, and get a general understanding of the essential methodological strategies required for those breakthroughs.

Students will have to present one publication in a Journal Club style presentation. This exercise will (i) test their critical reading and (ii) challenge their interpretation skills. To finalize the course, each student will also have to review a publication in written form to test their critical thinking, methodological knowledge and writing skills. Thus, our course is designed not only to provide a core knowledge in basic neuroscience, but also to foster critical thinking.

Topics for 2017/2018 (order to be determined based on scheduling)

  • Module 1: From Molecules to Single Cells. Topic covered: Channels, Electrical properties of neuronal Communication, Synapses, Neurotransmission, Modulation of Synaptic Transmission, Synaptic plasticity and memory, Neurons (types and functions), Pathophysiology. (Jonas)
  • Module 2: Neuronal systems from neuronal circuits to behaviour. This will cover sensory systems (Vision, Olfaction, Audition, Touch, Vestibular System) as well as higher visual processing and sensorimotor transformation. It will also discuss brain systems involved in some fundamental brain functions such as sleep-waking cycle regulation and memory formation. (Jösch, Csicsvari)

Course typeTrack core
Track segment(s)NEU-CORE
Target audienceStudents planning to affiliate in a neuroscience research group.
Pre-requisitesNo specific background is required. For students with no background in life-sciences certain aspects of the course will require further reading.
ECTS credits6
Evaluation50% assignements:
  • First term write a preview article about a paper
  • Second term write referee report about a paper

50% final exam essay
Starts onTue, 27-Feb-2018 (08:45 - 10:00), Mondi 3
Ends onThu, 21-Jun-2018 (08:45 - 10:00), Mondi 3
Withdrawal deadline20-Mar-2018
Course websiteView


Condensed Matter Physics

Maksym Serbyn

This class is covering basic-level to advanced theoretical treatment of theory of solids. The aim is to provide with an in-depth background so that student will be able to orient and understand current subject of research interest in the field.

Tentative curriculum:

  1. Free electrons: crystalline lattices, band structure, topological insulators
  2. Electrons in magnetic fields: semiclassic equations of motion, magneto-oscillations
  3. Phonons: electron-phonon interactions, polaronic physics
  4. Effect of interactions on electrons: superconductivity, Mott insulators, magnetism
  5. [if time permits] Effects of disorder; Kubo formula; scaling theory of localization

Course typeAdvanced
Track segment(s)PHY-CON
Target audienceIntended for students pursuing degree in quantum physics.
Pre-requisitesbasic quantum mechanics, second quantization, some exposure to undergraduate solid state physics is preferable but not required.
Teaching formatblackboard lectures twice a week, in addition recitation/student presentations that will be covering various experimental methods in relation with the course material
ECTS credits6
Evaluationif there are more than 10 students are enrolled:
50% participation + 25% homework + 25% final exam
if enrollment is less than 10 students:
50% participation + 25% homework + 25% in-class-presentation
Starts onTue, 27-Feb-2018 (08:15 - 10:00), Mondi 2
Ends onThu, 21-Jun-2018 (11:45 - 12:30), Mondi 2
Minimum attendance5
Withdrawal deadline22-May-2018
Course websiteView


Mechanical Engineering

Todor Asenov

The goal of this course is to educate students how to take the correct decision about the materials and the techniques they should use in order to realized their experimental setups. They will be taught about the properties of materials. In addition they will be introduced to a design program, necessary nowadays in order to be able to produce fine mechanical parts in a mechanical workshop. In parallel the instructor will explain them how to design in a realistic way so that their design can be indeed implemented. Finally the students will get an introduction into 3D technology.
Preliminary overview of topics:

  1. Short review of materials in mechanical engineering here I would like to explain the difference between different materials and important features witch should be taken in account when choosing a material
  2. 3D design and modeling in Creo 3 short review
  3. Drawing with Creo 3
  4. 3D printing technology
  5. Practical seminars

Course typeGeneral
Target audienceNeuroscience and Physics students (more advanced scientists in these fields are also welcome).
Teaching formatLectures and practical seminars.
EvaluationFinal project.
Starts onWed, 21-Feb-2018 (11:00 - 12:00), Mondi 1
Ends onThu, 21-Jun-2018 (13:15 - 14:30), Seminar Room / Lab Bldg East
Maximum attendance30
Withdrawal deadline20-Mar-2018
Course websiteView

Fall 2018/2019


Introduction to Evolutionary Biology

Beatriz Vicoso, Sylvia Cremer

We will cover aspects of evolutionary biology, with a focus on evolutionary ecology and genomics. Each week, there will be an introductory lecture, followed by a paper discussion.

  1. Adaptive and non-adaptive evolution (BV):
    • Deleterious and beneficial mutations
    • Origin of new genes and functions
  2. Evolution of non-coding sequences (BV):
    • Genome size evolution and complexity
    • Transposable elements and non-coding RNAs
  3. Speciation (BV)
  4. Evolution of sociality and cooperation (SC)
  5. Sexual selection and the evolution of dimorphic traits (SC)
  6. Host parasite interactions and symbioses (SC)

Please note that this is a preliminary course description. The final version will be available closer to the starting date of the course

Course typeIntroductory
Track segment(s)BIO-EVO
Target audienceThe course is primarily aimed at students with a molecular biology background who are interested in molecular and organismal evolution, but students from other fields are welcome.
ECTS credits3
Course scheduleThis course most likely will be offered in the first half of the 2018/19 fall semester.



Statistics for Life Sciences

Sylvia Cremer

Statistical data analysis is a key component of all experimental work in the life sciences. It is important to develop a concept of later data analysis already before data generation (experimental design, sample size etc.), which is why statistical planning should be an integral part of every experiment. This course aims to give an overview of data structure and statistical analysis tools, from an applied perspective. The course consists of lectures and hands-on-training using the freeware statistical program R.
Please note that this is a preliminary course description. The final version will be available closer to the course start date.

Course typeIntroductory
Track segment(s)BIO-QUANT; NEU-QUANT
Target audiencebiology or neuroscience students
ECTS credits3
Course scheduleThis course most likely will be offered in the second half of the 2018/19 fall semester.


Developmental Neuroscience and Brain Diseases

Gaia Novarino, Simon Hippenmeyer

‘Developmental Neurobiology and Brain Diseases’ will provide an introduction into the concepts and principles of the basic cellular, molecular and epigenetic mechanisms controlling the assembly of neural circuits in the developing brain. The course will cover general aspects of neurodevelopment (neurogenesis, axon guidance, topographic map formation, specificity of connectivity, glia, epigenetic modulation etc.); and molecular and cellular principles of neural circuit assembly. Neural circuits will be also discussed in the context of neurodevelopmental disorders and neurological diseases in the mature brain. The course is based on contemporary literature and selected text books.
Please note that this is a preliminary course description. The final version will be available closer to the starting date of the course

Course typeIntroductory
Target audienceStudents at all levels and with all backgrounds (experimental and theory), students intending to affiliate with any neuroscience laboratory or with a cell biology laboratory are recommended to take this class.
ECTS credits6
Course scheduleThis course most likely will be offered in the 2018/19 fall semester (full semester course).

Spring 2019


Bioinformatics (Genomics and Gene Expression Analysis)

Beatriz Vicoso

We will discuss common types of sequencing data and perform hands on analyses in:

  1. Genomics:
    • DNA sequencing platforms
    • Tools for genome assemblies
  2. Transcriptomics:
    • RNA-seq and Ribo-profiling analysis, detection of differentially expressed genes
    • Evolution of gene expression
  3. Epigenomics:
    • Examples of analyses different datasets, including bisulfite sequencing (methylation), DNase-Seq (regulatory regions), Chip-Seq (histone modifications).

Please note that this is a preliminary course description. The final veresion will be available closer to the course start date.

Course typeAdvanced
Track segment(s)BIO-QUANT, DS-QUANT
Target audienceExperimental biologists and/or theoreticians looking to analyze large-scale sequencing data.
ECTS credits3
Course scheduleThis course most likely will be offered in the 1st half of the 2019 spring semester.



Synthetic and Systems Biology II


A course description will be available closer to the course start date.

Course typeAdvanced
Track segment(s)BIO-SYS
ECTS credits3
Course scheduleThis course most likely will take place in the 1st half of the 2019 spring term.




Jack Merrin

This half course will cover microfluidics with a focus on biological applications and how students can incorporate microfluidics in their research. In this course, students will gain an intuitive understanding of the behavior of fluids on the micro scale. We will discuss microfabrication methods as well as common microfluidic platforms such as flow cytometry and inkjet. Then we will discuss biological applications of microfluidics to cell culture, bacteriology, eukaryotic cells, biochemistry, immunology, neuroscience, medicine, diagnostics, chemical and cell surface patterning, 3D printing, and lab on a chip. .


  • Fluid mechanics, consequences of life at low Reynolds number
  • Microfabrication of microfluidics devices, microfluidic valve technology
  • Application of inkjet, DNA Printer, Gene chips
  • Flow cytometry, digital microfluidics
  • Microfluidic cell culture
  • Microfluidics in microbiology
  • Microfluidics with eukaryotic cells
  • Microfluidics in immunology
  • Microfluidics in neuroscience and biochemistry
  • Microfluidics in medicine and diagnostic miniaturization
  • Methods of chemical and cell patterning of surfaces
  • Lab on a chip, biological 3D printing

Please note that this is a preliminary course description. The final version will be available closer to the course start date.

Course typeIntroductory
Target audienceWe will consider primarily biological applications, but the course should be of interest to anyone who is curious about microfluidics.
Pre-requisitesA basic understanding of calculus is useful but not required to succeed in this class.
ECTS credits3



Classics in Evolutionary Biology I

Nick Barton

As a field, evolutionary biology is remarkably diverse, ranging from taxonomy to theoretical population genetics, and from paleontology through to experimental evolution. In developing the reading curricula the instructors have attempted to both follow the historical development of the field, and to highlight those works that have had an important impact on evolutionary thinking. The ultimate goal of the course is to provide students with an in depth introduction to a variety of topics in evolutionary biology, and encourage independent exploration of the literature. In addition, scientists do not simply perform experiments or derive equations but must present this information to a wider audience through seminars, conference talks, and manuscripts. Therefore, the course also focuses on providing the important experience of giving oral presentations and scientific writing.
Please note that this is a preliminary course description. The final version will be availble closer to the course start date.

Course typeAdvanced
Track segment(s)BIO-EVO
Pre-requisitesSome knowledge of evolutionary biology helpful – for example, from the “Introduction to Evolutionary Biology" (Vicoso/Cremer)
ECTS credits3
Course scheduleThis course most likely will be offered in the 1st half of the 2019 spring semester.


Advanced techniques in LS: Biophotonics/High-resolution fluorescence microscopy

Johann Danzl

Fluorescence microscopy has undergone dramatic progress in the past years and constitutes a central tool in the life sciences. The lecture is aimed at biology, neuroscience, and physics students and reflects the interdisciplinary character of modern microscopy. Surpassing the diffraction resolution limit of light microscopy constituted a major breakthrough that was honoured with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2014. In the course, special emphasis will be placed on diffraction-unlimited microscopy, aka nanoscopy or super-resolution microscopy, like STED, RESOLFT, PALM, STORM. Further state-of-the-art optical methods will be discussed that allow the analysis of the activity of cellular ensembles in tissues (including Ca2+ imaging, two-photon imaging, light sheet microscopy and its variants) as well as the strategies to specifically label target structures. The course should not only convey the pertinent concepts but also provide a basis to choose suitable methods and tools in the framework of one's own PhD or postdoctoral research. Likewise it should become clear what the current state of the field is and where these methods need further development. The course will comprise both lecture and mainly interactive sessions, and practical hands-on sessions on diffraction-unlimited microscopy.
Please note that this is a preliminary course description. The final version will be available closer to the course start date.

Course typeAdvanced
Pre-requisitesThere are no specific prerequisites. Care will be taken that the material is accessible both for students with a physics background and those with a life science background.
ECTS credits3
Course scheduleThis course most likely will take place in the 2nd half of the 2019 spring semester. Details will be communicated in due course.


Plant Cell and Developmental Biology

Eva Benková, Jirí Friml

Plant Cell and Developmental Biology course will offer PhD students core lectures addressing contemporary topics and challenging questions of plant cell and developmental biology. Students will be introduced to the concepts, scientific fundamentals and methodologies central to contemporary plant biology. At the end of the course students should have an understanding of the experimental approaches, and how they are applied to specific problems in cell and developmental biology; should be able to understand and interpret simple experiments in cell and developmental biology. Assessment for this course will be through ability of students to present selected research article, and to prove its understanding in general context during following discussion.
Please note that this is a preliminary course description. The final version will be available closer to the starting date of the course

Course typeIntroductory
Track segment(s)BIO-CELL
Target audienceStudents interested in contemporary molecular and genetic tools and their implementation to address cell and developmental biology questions.
ECTS credits3
Course scheduleThis course most likely will be offered in the second half of the 2018/19 fall semester.
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