Welcome to the homepage of the Institute for Developmental Immunology (IDI) at the Biocenter of the Medical University of Innsbruck. The IDI is currently headed by Prof. Andreas Villunger, PhD, who was appointed as a head of this unit in 2007 as junior professor and is now full professor for Developmental Immunology at MUI.


The Institute is organized in four research groups, run by head Andreas Villunger and associate professors Jan Wiegers, Verena Labi and Sebastian Herzog. Please click the logo to learn more about the respective groups!

With their coworkers, IDI investigators explore basic mechanisms of immune cell development and differentiation with a focus on microRNAs and steroid hormones. In addition, we are interested in studying general principles of cellular transformation, focusing on the role of BCL2-regulated cell death and the p53 signalling network as barrier against malignant disease.

All group leaders are involved in training undergraduate as well as graduate students of different life-science disciplines, including biochemistry, biology as well as molecular and human medicine. If you are interested in research training opportunities at different levels (summer students, BSc, MSc, or MD/PhD), or have any teaching related questions, please contact Claudia in administration to organize an appointment with your group leader of interest (Claudia.Ram@i-med.ac.at).

Recent News


Congratulations to Ilaria Dorigatti and Nadine Kinz for receiving the “Stipendium der Allgemeinen Hochschulstipendienstiftung für Studierende der Universität Innsbruck und der Medizinischen Universität Innsbruck“! Each year, three young researchers with an excellent academic performance are selected by the “Hochschulstipendienstiftung” and honored for their scientific achievements. The award is intended to support the young scientists in their early career. Keep up the great work!

Congrats! Sarah Spöck received the 1st SZABO SCANDIC Immunis Sponsorship for young scientists. Focusing on B cells, Sarah’s project will elucidate how the epigenetic TET proteins prevent autoimmunity or immunodeficiency while promoting protective antibody-mediated immunity. We are looking forward to hearing more about this exciting project!

We are happy to announce that Joel Riley from the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow decided to join the team as a new Group Leader and Tenure Track Professor. Joel will start by the end of the year and will head the "Cell Death & Inflammation" Lab. Welcome, Joel!

After assessing the role of the PIDDosome in liver development (PMID: 31983631) and hepatocellular carcinoma (PMID: 33225610), a team involving former PhD student Valentina, Felix, Institute head Andreas Villunger and hepatologist Thomas Reiberger from Vienna has now compiled a Review Article that summarizes the current knowledge about polyploidy control in the healthy as well as the diseased liver.

Congratulations! For his work on the PIDDosome, a protein complex that becomes activated upon polyploidization, Felix Eichin has secured one of the prestigious DOC fellowships from the Austrian Academy of Sciences. In the next years, he will investigate how the autoprocessing of PIDD, a key component and name giver of the complex, affects PIDDosome function.

Joined retreat in the Tyrolean Alps with the group of Hesso Farhan

Marina Leone has successfully applied for funding within the FWF Meintner program. In the next two years she will investigate how the PIDDosome, a protein complex that has been described by our group as the key sensor for polyploidization events, regulates heart development. Polyploidization and its control are of particular interest here, as the heart is a post-mitotic organ full of terminally differentiated and polyploid cardiomyocytes. This limits tissue regeneration, e.g. upon myocardial infarction, and it is tempting to speculate that manipulating PIDDosome function may beneficial in this context. Congrats, Marina!

For her PhD work on the PIDDosome in hepatocyte development, regeneration and cancer (see below), Valentina has received the prestigious Award of Excellence sponsored by the Austrian state. Each year, this award honors the best 40 dissertations in the country. On top of it, she also got an EMBO fellowship for her Postdoc studies that she has recently started in the United States.  Well done, Valentina!