Synthetic biology and tissue engineering to build pseudo-organisms for aquatic detoxification

Dr. Nina Pollak’s research presents an extremely innovative approach to extending the boundaries of synthetic biology by integrating it with the field of tissue engineering. Her research seeks a completely novel approach for aquatic detoxification by synthetically engineering eukaryotic three-dimensional multicellular structures as a mobile scavenging system. As a synthetic biologist, she works hard to win the society over with her vision of creating a smarter, greener, more sustainable world.

Dr. Nina Pollak is a graduate of the University of Graz (Austria), who obtained her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2014, along with an impressive collection of honours and awards. As an early-career researcher, she has already authored 10 peer-reviewed publications and 6 conference papers; and has an impressive collection of honours and awards. In addition, Nina inspires the next generation of science students by teaching at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Nina has previously conducted research at the University of Graz (Austria) and Columbia University (New York, USA), which contributed greatly to the understanding of a process called lipolysis, with a strong focus on heart energy metabolism. In August 2017, she has received one of 11 nationwide fellowships for early-career postdoctoral researchers, with her project being part of CSIRO’s investment in the creation of a Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform (SynBio FSP;


Dr. Nina Pollak has many past and currently active collaborations with research groups at Columbia University (New York, US), New York University (New York, US), Temple University (Philadelphia, US), University of Graz (Graz, Austria), Technical University of Graz (Graz, Austria), Medical University of Graz (Graz, Austria), CSIRO Black Mountain Site (Canberra, Australia).

Key Publications

Pollak NM#, Hoffman M#, Goldberg IJ, Drosatos K* (2018). Krüppel-Like Factors: Crippling and Uncrippling Metabolic Pathways. JACC: Basic to Translational Science 3(1): 132-156. #Authors contributed equally.

Drosatos K*#, Pollak NM#, Pol C, Ntziachristos P, Willecke F, Valenti MC, Trent CM, Hu Y, Guo S, Aifantis I, Goldberg IJ (2016) Cardiac Myocyte KLF5 Regulates Ppara Expression and Cardiac Function. Circulation Research 118(2):241-53. #Authors contributed equally.

Pollak NM, Jaeger D, Kolleritsch S, Zimmermann R, Zechner R, Lass A, Haemmerle G* (2015). The interplay of protein kinase A and perilipin 5 regulates cardiac lipolysis. Journal of Biological Chemistry 16;290(3):1295-306

Pollak NM, Schweiger M, Jaeger D, Kolb D, Kumari M, Schreiber R, Kolleritsch S, Markolin P, Grabner GF, Heier C, Zierler KA, Ruelicke T, Zimmermann R, Lass A, Zechner R, Haemmerle G* (2013). Cardiac-specific overexpression of perilipin 5 provokes severe cardiac steatosis via the formation of a lipolytic barrier. Journal of Lipid Research 54(4):1092-102

Haemmerle G*, Moustafa T, Woelkart G, Buettner S, Schmidt A, van de Weijer T, Hesselink M, Jaeger D, Kienesberger PC, Zierler K, Schreiber R, Eichmann T, Kolb D, Kotzbeck P, Schweiger M, Kumari M, Eder S, Schoiswohl G, Wongsiriroj N, Pollak NM, Radner FP, Preiss-Landl K, Kolbe T, Ruelicke T, Pieske B, Trauner M, Lass A, Zimmermann R, Hoefler G, Cinti S, Kershaw EE, Schrauwen P, Madeo F, Mayer B, Zechner R (2011). ATGL-mediated fat catabolism regulates cardiac mitochondrial function via PPAR-α and PGC-1. Nature Medicine 17(9):1076-85


2017-2020: “Tissue engineered multicellular structures for aquatic detoxification.“ Synthetic Biology Future Science Fellowship granted by CSIRO as cofounded partnership between CSIRO and University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), Sippy Downs, Australia. Each partner (CSIRO and USC) contributes matching funding and the University of Queensland is a co-sponsor.

2010-2014: “Examination of the role of perilipin5 in cardiac energy metabolism.” Metabolic and Cardiovascular Disease PhD Research Fellowship (DK-MCD W1226) granted by the Austrian Science Fund “Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung” (FWF).