Research Interests

Trained in chemistry and physics my early research interests were in the theory of intermolecular forces, in particular in hydrogen bonds and ion-water interactions, which are important for understanding the structure of biomolecules. During my post-doc years my research interests shifted towards evolution at the molecular level. Together with Manfred Eigen I conceived and developed the theory of quasispecies and hypercycles. Work on in vitro and in silico evolution of RNA molecules initiated research on RNA sequence-structure relations. Systematic studies revealed the importance of neutrality--several sequences fold into the same minimum-free-energy structure--and lead to the invention of neutral networks as a useful tool for understanding RNA sequence-structure mappings and designing RNA sequences that form predefined structures. The exploration of suboptimal conformations and folding kinetics led to the development of algorithms for the design of RNA switches that were successfully tested experimentally. The collection of our tools for RNA structure prediction and analysis was made openly accessible as the Vienna-RNA-package. More recently we applied our knowledge on dynamical systems to gene regulatory and metabolic networks and developed new tools for network analysis and reverse engineering based on conventional and inverse methods for analysis and modeling by means of differential equations.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 14: Chemistry

Secondary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology