Mag-Lab's research team. From left to right, Matus Hlavac, Gerald Platzer, Sven Brüschweiler, Emma Stepinac, Robert Konrat, Roman Lichtenecker, and Thomas Kalina
Wolfgang Friedl is Mag-Lab's CEO. Attorney at Law, he brings over 25 years of experience in corporate law, national and international M&A, and financing with a strong focus on biotech. He is founder and senior partner of the Vienna Legal Group, and since 2019 he is COO at CEBINA (Central European Biotech Incubator and Accelerator, in Vienna), where he leads the opeations, facility management, investor relations and legal teams.
Roman Lichtenecker is a researcher and senior lecturer at the Institute of Organic Chemistry at the University of Vienna. He studied Chemistry in Vienna and Marseille. After obtaining his PhD in Organic Chemistry, he joined the Max-Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund (Germany) within the scope of a Marie-Curie Fellowship. After returning to the University of Vienna, he started his own research lab to continue his work at the frontiers of Organic Chemistry to Chemical Biology. At the same time, he holds lectures in general, organic and bioorganic chemistry. Being one of the cofounders, Roman leads the organic synthetic chemistry group in Mag-Lab. His main research interests focus on the design of small molecules to answer the big questions of structural biology, as well as drafting and implementing synthetic routes to access compounds for drug development and optimization.
Sven Brüschweiler studied chemistry at the University of Vienna, where he obtained his PhD, investigating the underlying dynamics and structural changes occurring during the allosteric signal transmission of a transcription factor. With an Erwin Schrödinger fellowship, he then joined Harvard Medical School for a post-doctoral research stay, where he characterized the dynamics of helical transmembrane proteins. During his Erwin Schrödinger return phase at the University of Vienna, he studied the binding of an scFv to an intrinsically disordered protein. In a subsequent collaboration with a big pharma company, he characterized the structure-activity relation and determined the protein-ligand complex structure of small molecules interacting with a transcription factor. Further, he is dedicated to educating the next generation of researchers by teaching advanced classes about protein structure prediction and molecular design at a university of applied sciences (Fachhochschule Campus Wien).
Matus Hlavac obtained his PhD in organic chemistry from the Comenius University in Bratislava and the University of Strasbourg within the frame of a cotutelle PhD program. Matus is a well-experienced synthetic chemist with a special focus on medicinal chemistry. In his past research activities, he developed highly selective aldose reductase- and tyrosine kinase inhibitors and gained valuable insight into the field of inhibitor development and structure optimization. Matus additionally gathered experience in high-scale industrial synthesis within the scope of his recent professional development. Now, Matus is applying all this know-how to Mag-Lab’s complex synthetic chemistry challenges.
Robert Konrat is Full Professor for Structural Biology at the University of Vienna, Austria. He studied Chemistry in Graz, and performed postdoctoral research at the Université de Lausanne, Switzerland, and the University of Toronto, Canada. He held visiting professorships at the Universities of Graz, Innsbruck, the École Normale Supérieur (ENS) in Paris (France), the University of Barcelona (Spain), the University of California (UCSD) in San Diego (US), and the University of Florence (Italy). He is a recipient of the Novartis Price for Chemistry (2000) and served as consultant to both biotech and pharmaceutical industries. Robert is cofounder and scientific head of Mag-Lab. His major research interests lie in the field of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs), in particular developing novel chemistry-inspired conceptual frameworks to theoretically describe protein features based on primary sequence information, as well as NMR-supported structural biology and drug design.
Gerald Platzer is a scientific researcher in the field of structural chemistry at MAG-Lab. Gerald studied Molecular Biology in Vienna and obtained his PhD in Structural Biology working on the biophysical characterization of intrinsically disordered proteins with a strong focus on NMR in the group of Robert Konrat. After research stays at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver-Canada, and the Leibniz Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) Berlin-Germany he returned to Vienna joining the group of Bojan Zagrovic where he was working in the field of protein-RNA interactions before joining the Christian Doppler Laboratory for High-Content Structural Biology and Biotechnology. Gerald’s research interests span a broad range of chemistry and include weak non-covalent interactions and solvent effects in the context of protein-ligand interactions.
Emma Stepinac studied molecular biology at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, and the University of Orleans, France. During her studies, she completed internships at the BIOPI Amiens (France) working on metabolomics NMR, and the MPI-CBG Dresden (Germany) working on fluorescence microscopy techniques. She completed her PhD at the Max Perutz Laboratories (University of Vienna) on the topic of structural biology and biophysics, as well as protein-protein interaction assays. In her work, she participated to unravel the question of how the interaction of Sas6 and the trans-Golgi component Gorab mediate Drosophila centriole duplication. Emma’s expertise in protein expression/purification, as well as assay development/implementation is a valuable driving force in Mag-Lab’s endeavor to achieve ambitious scientific objectives.
Thomas Kalina studied chemistry at the University of Vienna. After obtaining his master’s degree in organic chemistry, he joined a PhD program at the University of Vienna on the topic of phosphorous chemistry (aminophosphonic acids, bisphosphonates, …). During this time, he did not only evolve into a gifted tutor and teacher to other students but also developed valuable skills in planning and executing multistep synthetic chemistry protocols. His main research interest is the synthesis of new organic compounds for drug development and the subsequent steps toward medicinal applications. This personal interest covers a wide range of interdisciplinary fields and matches perfectly with Mag-Lab’s scientific mission.