Skip to main contentSkip to breadcrumbsSkip to sub navSkip to doormat


Competitive BIF fellowships for two IMP PhD students

26 Jul 2023
Patty Rothe (left) and Monika Heinzl.

Two PhD students at the IMP were awarded prestigious fellowships by the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds: Monika Heinzl (Stark Lab) and Patty Rothe (Plaschka Lab) will not only fund their research projects through the fellowships, they will also join the network of aspiring early-career researchers that form the "BIF" community.

In its most recent award round, the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds (BIF) selected two Vienna BioCenter PhD students from IMP labs for its prestigious fellowships: Monika Heinzl from the lab of Alexander Stark and Patty Rothe from the lab of Clemens Plaschka.

Monika Heinzl joined the IMP in October 2022 as a computational PhD student. In her project with Alexander Stark, she aims to understand how biology encodes transcriptional regulation in the genome by using a combination of genome-wide datasets and deep learning. In particular, she wants to model how regulatory information is encoded in enhancer DNA sequences – crucial “switching” gene activity on - and understand how these codes drive enhancer activity in different cell types.

Monika did both her undergraduate and master’s studies in bioinformatics at the Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria. There she also did her master’s project, with shared supervision of Irene Tiemann-Boege and Sepp Hochreiter. In the frame of this project, Monika developed a deep learning-based basecaller for translating nanopore sequencing signals into DNA sequences.

Patty Rothe returned to the IMP after what started with a stint through the Vienna BioCenter Summer School in 2021. Now a PhD student with Clemens Plaschka, Patty uses a combination of biochemistry and structural biology, in particular cryo-Electron Microscopy to study the coupling of pre-mRNA processing and mRNA packaging.

Patty studied biochemistry at the Freie Universität Berlin for her undergraduate and master’s degree. In Berlin, she joined the lab of Florian Heyd for her bachelor thesis and the lab of Stefan Mundlos at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genomics to study the 3D genome architecture and its influence on gene expression. At the Vienna BioCenter, she was first in the lab of Christa Buecker to study transcription regulation; and later with Clemens Plaschka, where she did research for her master thesis on spliceosome biogenesis using cryo-Electron Microscopy.

The Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds (BIF) grants PhD fellowships lasting between two and three-and-a-half years to exceptional early-career researchers worldwide. This competitive program supports challenging PhD projects in basic biomedical research at world-renowned institutions. In addition to a monthly stipend, fellows are entitled to seminars, travel allowances, one-on-one support, and the opportunity to join a global community of fellows and alumni.

Further reading

About the Vienna BioCenter PhD Program
Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds
Lab of Alexander Stark (Monika Heinzl)
Lab of Clemens Plaschka (Patty Rothe)