Proton transport and proton-coupled transport


PROTON is a collaborative effort of 10 academic and 2 industrial partners. Our application for an international training network (ITN) in the frame of Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions (MSCA) has been positively evaluated. Our goal is to jointly train 15 PhD students in the field of proton transport and proton coupled transport. The research projects of the PhD students aim at clarifying the molecular reaction mechanisms of protons in the confines of interfacial water layers and proteinaceous cavities with emphasis on proton mobility.

PROTON offers full time positions for 36 months with many additional benefits.

Students interested in joining PROTON are invited to apply. The earliest starting day is 1.10.2019. We look for students holding or very close to completing their Master degree in (Bio)Physics, (Bio)Chemistry or Optics with the following qualities: i) exceptional academic performance, including qualifications, prizes; ii) subject specific skills and expertise iii) communication, presentation skills and team working abilities.

You are eligible to apply if you are: (i) in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of your research career; (ii) have not resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of your potential host organization for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. iii) are competent in written and spoken English.

Please send your application (letter of motivation, detailed CV) to Please indicate two or three titles of your choice from the list of "Individual Research Projects" below.


Secure, competitive, and sustainable energy production is a major challenge facing human societies. Biomimetic solutions such as the development of new biofuel cells are hampered by our thus far incomplete understanding of proton transfer reactions. The same holds for health threats to humanity: Curing diseases like cancer, obesity, chronic gastritis, gastric and duodenal ulcers, requires to pharmacologically interfere - in their molecular details - with yet unresolved proton transfer reactions.

Here we aim at clarifying the molecular reaction mechanism in the confines of interfacial water layers and proteinaceous cavities with emphasis on arrangement and mobility of proton relay moieties. Achieving this requires an interdisciplinary, multi-level approach comprising cutting edge technologies like second harmonic imaging, single molecule and time resolved fluorescence microscopy and spectroscopy, advanced calculations of proton transfer, bioengineering of membrane channel and transporter containing systems, synthetic design of biomimetic proton channels, solving protein structures and rational drug design.

PROTON will train 15 PhD students, who will acquire a solid state-of-the-art multidisciplinary scientific training in all kinds of proton migration/reaction systems, covering from basic science to industrial applications, thus preparing them to generate new scientific knowledge of the highest impact. In addition, practical training on transferable skills will increase their employability and qualify them for responsible positions in private and public sectors. Cross-disciplinary strategies and close collaboration with industry will enable them to resolve the molecular details of proton driven processes in all kinds of settings - enabling the improvement of biomimetic applications – up to fuel cells - and to identify lead substances which may serve to pharmacologically interfere with proton transport through membrane channels and transporters.

Individual Research Projects

1.  Lateral Proton Migration along lipid membranes Prof. Peter Pohl
2. Proton Uptake from the membrane surface by membrane channels and transportes Prof. Peter Pohl
3.  Second harmonic (SH) Imaging of charge, water and proton mobility on free standing lipid membranes Prof. Sylvie Roke
4. Ion channels as seen by water Prof. Sylvie Roke
5. Biomimetic synthetic self-assembled proton channels Dr. Mihail Barboiu
6. Proton transport on the hydrated surfaces of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) and collagen fibrils and mats Prof. Noam Agmon
7. Mechanism of the proton transport activation in UCPs Prof. Elena Pohl
8.  Protozoal and human proton-coupled lactate transport: molecular mechanisms and drug-like inhibitors Dr. Eric Ebeitz
9. Proton-gating of the urea channel (Urel) from the human gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori Dr. Harmut Luecke
10. Proton transfer at anionic membrane interfaces Prof. Ana-Nicoleta Bondar
11. Formate nitrite transporters: proton-coupled transport and inhibitor design from MD simulations Prof. Jochen Hub
12. Molecular characterization of the mobility and hydration of the function-relevant region of the urea channel HpUreI located at the vicinity of the proton sensitive loop Prof. Martin Hof
13. Proton-sensing mechanism of GPR68 Dr. Herbert Nar
14. Application of FCCS to analyse reconstituted membrane proteins in Giant Unilamellar Vesicles (GUV) and related artificial membranes, using the example of the proton channel HV1 Dr. Stefan Hannus
15. Mitochondrial Uncoupling Proteins: proton channels or proton-fatty acid co-transporters? Dr. Harmut Luecke




Name Dept./Division/Lab Contry Scientist-in-charge
Johannes Keppler University of Linz (JKU) Institute of Biophysics Austria Peter Pohl
Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)

Institut Européen des Membranes / Adaptive Supramolecular Nanosystems Team

France Mihail Barboiu
Christian-Albrechts - Universität zu Kiel (CAU)


Department of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry
Germany Eric Beitz
Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI) Institute of Chemistry Israel Noam Agmon

Freie Universitaet Berlin (FUB)

Department of Physics Germany

Ana-Nicoleta Bondar

J. Heyrovský Institute of Physical Chemistry of the CAS, v. v. i. (UFCH) Department of Biophysical Chemistry Czech Republic Martin Hof
Universität des Saarlandes (USAAR) Theoretical Biophysics Germany Jochen Hub
University of Oslo (UiO) Centre for Molecular Medicine Norway Norway Hartmut Luecke
University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (VMU) Institute of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Biophysics / Department or Biomedical Sciences Austria Elena E. Pohl
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) Laboratory for Fundamental BioPhotonics Switzerland Sylvie Roke
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG RSG MedChem Germany Herbert Nar
Intana Bioscience GmbH   Germany Stefan Hannus


Partner Organisations

Name Country   Scientist-in-Charge E-Mail
Keysight Technologies GmbH Austria   Georg Gramse
COSMOlogic GmbH & Co. KG Germany   Andreas Klamt
Elements SRL Italy   Federico Thei  
Carl Zeiss AG Germany   Klaus Weisshart  
Evercyte GmbH Austria   Johannes Grillari




Name Position Phone Organization E-Mail
Peter Pohl Coordinator of PROTON +43 732 2468 7562 JKU
Marijana Saric Project administrator  
+43 732 2468 7561