Project description

Cell life is organized on a strictly controlled Ca2+ homeostasis in which the mitochondrial Ca2+ handling is essential. Disturbance of mitochondrial Ca2+ levels affects cytosolic Ca2+ buffering, and Ca2+ signalling, which crucially regulate mitochondrial and cellular metabolism and cell death decisions.

The risk of lung and metabolic diseases has increased significantly, as evidenced by the last pandemic and the rising number of obesity cases. In this project, we aim to elucidate the metabolic role of Ca2+ homeostasis in lung health and the effects of nutritional conditions on metabolic stress and adaptation from the perspective of mitochondrial functions.

In the first part of the project, we will investigate the effect of mitochondria Ca2+ handling in Drosophila trachea, which has become an excellent model system for pulmonary disease research, specifically for COPD and SARS-CoV-2. The master student will focus on the newly identified mitochondrial Ca2+ transporter TMBIM5 and generate Drosophila conditional trachea-specific TMBIM5 knockdown fly lines to investigate cellular viability, mitochondrial functions, metabolism and immunity. Experimental approaches include molecular and cell biology, biochemistry, and microscopy.

In the second part of the project, the role of mitochondria in response to metabolic stress will be studied. We will use replicated populations of Drosophila that are adapted to different diet (protein-rich and carbohydrate-rich) and investigate the mitochondrial functions, and life history trait of individuals adapted to different diet.

This master project will shed light on the role of mitochondria in metabolism in response to diseases and diet.



We are looking for a highly motivated and talented Master student with solid knowledge in cell or molecular biology and good interpersonal skills.



The Master's project is highly interdisciplinary and, led by a collaborative team, offers the opportunity to combine different areas of expertise and explore the intersection of Drosophila and mitochondrial biology in a cutting-edge research topic, with the chance to contribute to a major scientific publication.

We offer a scholarship of around 450 €.



Please send your application including CV to Neda Barghi and Karin Nowikovsky (barghi.neda(at), karin.nowikovsky(at)

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