Mission Statement

Organismal Systems Biology aims to explain how high-level properties of complex organisms arise from the interactions of their constituent parts. The COSB groups study dynamic processes, spatial and temporal orders of interactions and transmission and processing of information within and among animals. The main goal is to reveal patterns and processes in development, evolution and biodiversity.  COSB researchers study invertebrate and vertebrate taxa, from the genetic/genomic level to morphology and physiology, from perception and sensory ecology to cognitive and social interactions.

COSB unites seven departments: Evolutionary Anthropology, Integrative Zoology, Neurobiology, Molecular Evolution and Development, Behavioral Biology, Cognitive Biology, and Theoretical Biology. Research comprises three key topical areas: “Cognition, Neuroscience and Behavior“, “Evolution of Organismal Complexity“ and “Evolutionary Anthropology“. The center is represented by a speaker (currently Prof. Wanninger) and a secretary office (1 permanent position), which takes care of teaching administration, employment contracts and financial management. Main shared infrastructures are a microCT facility, a well equipped workshop as well as field stations at the KLF in Grünau and the Haidlhof. The center receives a budget of about 15.000 EURO per year.

The Center runs a weekly seminar series of invited speakers covering a broad range of topics in modern evolutionary systems biology. On a monthly basis, COSB PhD students and postdoctoral researchers  discuss new concepts and recent progress followed by a social event (COSB Happy Hour). In addition to shared teaching programs for undergraduate students, COSB groups are part of the newly established Vienna Doctoral school CoBeNe (Cognition, Behavior and Neuroscience), which offers regular seminars and workshops for enrolled students. At the annual Science Day, students of COSB and the Centers of Ecology and Biodiversity/Botany jointly present their projects at the faculty level.

The current recruitment of a new professor in Theoretical Evolutionary Biology will provide novel integrative power to understand biological system networks at all levels of complexity (from molecule to culture). As a further conceptual extension beyond our biological core disciplines and current experimental systems we envision to further strengthen the existing key research areas, but also to build bridges between them, e.g. “Primatology” (Cognition and Neuroscience), “Evolutionary Morphology of Arthropods” (Organismal Complexity), “Evolutionary Medicine” (Anthropology). To pursue these interdisciplinary approaches we will support junior scientists - in particular female scientists - with internationally competitive career opportunities. The transition into a new building of biological sciences with several core facilities (e.g. imaging) and central animal care at the Vienna Biocenter Campus in the third district in 2022 will allow us to further develop strategies for cooperation with the local research institutes and the Vienna Biocenter Core Facilities (VBCF).