Departments of the Biological Institute:

Department of Anatomy, Cell and Developmental Biology

head of dept.:
web page:
Péter Lőw habil. assoc. prof.
1117 Budapest, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C.,
(+36-1) 381-2227;   (+36-1) 372-2500 /1835
(+36-1) 381-2184
Description of the scientific field

The major task of cell biology is to investigate the functions of animal and human cells by genetic, biochemical and morphological methods. A cell biologist explores how a healthy cell works, seeks what regulates the life processes of cells and how, and investigates what goes wrong in case of diseases.


On the lectures for biology BSc students we present the structure of animal cells, tissues, organs and organ systems, the connection between light and electron microscopic architecture and life habits or regulatory systems. On practicals we exemplify the research methods for investigation of cell functions, we demonstrate the possibilities of imaging technologies with analysis of light and electron micrographs. In additional we provide a unique possibility for students to study the main model animals on their own dissection.

The instructors of our department give an insight into nearly all areas of modern cell and developmental biology for enthusiastic MSc students. That way they can familiarize themselves with the molecular genetic and biochemical basics of the cell, they can study the embryonic development of the main model animals, and the most up-to-date developmental research techniques as well.


Within the subject of molecular cell biology, we investigate the molecular mechanism and regulation of cell death and autophagy (cellular self-digestion). We study the genetic and hormonal regulation of autophagy, the role of autophagy in cell death, in degradation of macromolecules, in neurodegenerative diseases and in tumorigenesis. We use fruit flies (Drosophila) and mammalian cell lines as model organisms for our experiments. The scientific interest of our researcher-instructors covers a wide range of subjects from the regulation of gene expression and RNA interference (RNAi), through autophagy and endocytosis to crinophagy.

Here are some current topics:

  • The study of autophagy and other lysosomal degradation pathways using a combination of molecular genetic tools and biochemical methods in Drosophila and human cancer cell lines.
  • Production and purification of recombinant proteins important in autophagy using affinity-chromatography. Mapping the interactions of these proteins with their supposed interacting partners, and the determination of the molecular structure.
  • Studies the fusion of transport vesicles and lysosomes during endocytosis and autophagy in Drosophila fat body cells and secretory cells (Garland cells) using light and electron microscopic methods.
  • The genetic regulation and molecular mechanism of crinophagy, the degradation of secretory granules in Drosophila salivary gland cells.
  • The role of small GTPases (Rab5, Rab7, Rab18) and their interacting partners in the regulation of autophagic and endocytic degradation.
  • Investigation of the role of membrane tethering factors during the fusion of early endosomes using biochemical methods and the functional analysis of human cell lines.

The departmental research groups receive grants from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the National Research, Development and Innovation Office. We publish 15-20 scientific papers annually in the leading peer reviewed journals of cell biology due to active research work. Our department is one of the prestigious research centres of autophagy worldwide.

Life at the department

The lab meetings and in many cases the lectures are held in English on our department, so students get involved with scientific research in an inspiring international environment. In the weekly Endosome Club new interesting papers are presented by departmental investigators for the colleagues interested in the field.

Career opportunities

On the Department of Anatomy, Cell and Developmental Biology we primarily educate researchers wanting to solve cell biological problems after getting their PhD degree. Besides academic teaching, such experts are needed in many large research projects in several countries in the world. Research institutions, pharmaceutical companies and private enterprises are also looking for cell biologists. There are further possibilities for those thinking to work in veterinary science, assisted reproduction or stem cell research.

How to get involved in cell biology?

The best way if the applicant applies for the biology BSc in the Faculty of Natural Sciences on ELTE. For students there are plenty opportunities to study cell biology subjects and to join the research work on the department. Next step is to choose the Molecular Genetics, Cell- and Developmental Biology specialization in our MSc scheme. Here there are even more possibilities to study cell biology and the related developmental biology.

Training of cell biology researchers finishes with a 4 years program of Biology Doctoral School. Our department teaches and accepts applicants in the field of molecular cell and neurobiology, who join mainly the research work in the department and they take part also in teaching BSc courses.

How to find a student research project?

Write an e-mail to that researcher whose research topic you are interested in: 
E-mail addresses here.

Information on public programmes of ELTE Department of Anatomy, Cell and Developmental Biology in the following websites:

Department of Systematic Zoology and Ecology

head of dept.:
web page:
Gábor Herczeg professor
1117 Budapest, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C.,
(+36-1) 381-2193;   (+36-1) 372-2500 / 8093
(+36-1) 381-2194

Research and educational activities in the Department span the full range of ecology and systematic zoology, however, the effort to understand biodiversity joins these diverse branches of biology. All subdisciplines in the scope of our Department are relevant at the population and community levels. Educational and research activities cover zootaxonomy and systematics, ecology, behavioural ecology, hydrobiology, bio-geography, evolutionary biology and conservation biology.

Applied research methodologies include a wide range of approaches, e.g. field observation, field and laboratory experiments as well as molecular laboratory diagnostics. Field-work opportunities expand to terrestrial, aquatic and cave environments.


Systematic zoology course has been taught since 1934, the foundation year of the Department. At present the subject is integrated into a fully comprehensive course about the diversity of living organisms. From the 1960s onward, ecology and biogeography have been taught as separate courses. During the forthcoming decades the spectrum of mandatory courses broadened due to the appearance of other subdisciplines relevant at the population and community levels: behavioural ecology, hydrobiology and conservation biology. Special courses are offered to the interested students in additional fields, such as marine biology, speleology and protistology.


All our studies have been conducted at the supra-individual level (populations, species and higher taxa) – an unifying feature in our diversified fields of research. Nevertheless, we often rely on methodologies of physiology, genetics or molecular biology to assess certain research goals. Range of applied model organisms spans from amoebae through enchytraeids and arthropods to vertebrates. Overhelming majority of ecological investigations are completed in nature, e.g. at the research station in the Pilis-Visegrád Mountains (in the frame of the ELTE Pilis Project), where hole-nesting passerine birds have been investigated for more than 30 years.

Current research topics at the Department are as follows:

  • Characterisation of endobiont prokaryotes in amoeboid organisms
  • Description of new cercozoan testate amoebae in the Danube
  • Morphology and phylogeny of Arcella species
  • Diversity and conservation of orthopterans in the Carpathian-Pannonian Region and the Western Balkans Region
  • Ontogeny and evolution of between-individual behavioural variation (animal personality)
  • Means of adaptation to variable environments (adaptive evolution, adaptive phenotypic plasticity)
  • Evolution and biogeography of cave biota
  • The structural basis of individual variation in plumage colour (macrostructure, nanostructure and their regularity), mechanisms of rapid colour change
  • Cultural evolution of birdsong
  • Mechanisms of sexual selection in birds
  • Climate change and life history of birds
  • Oxidative stress and fitness (birds and lizards)
  • Fitness related traits in birds
  • The effects of ecological and social factors on vertebrate reproduction (courtship, number and sex of offspring, parental care), and its physiological background
  • Monitoring of protected and strictly protected mammal species of the Carpathian Basin
  • Taxonomic, faunistic and nature conservation researches on the grasshoppers (Orthoptera) occurring in Central and Southern Europe
  • Road ecology
  • Anthropogenic impact on the environment

Life at the Department

Academic staff and postdoctoral fellows carry out research on a very broad range of topics together with many students (BSc, MSc, PhD levels). This creates an inspiring and effective working environment. We often host guest scientists, while members of our department staff participate in several foreign research projects, thus, international relationships affect our everyday life.

Career opportunities

Students graduated from our Department may continue their education toward an academic career in Doctoral Schools of the Faculty, especially in our own Doctoral Program. After PhD degree they can attend university department staff or university and academic research groups in Hungary or abroad, respectively. People holding Master of Science degree may find professional positions in the field related to nature conservation, e.g. national parks or governmental agencies. Taxonomists may get a job in natural history museums.

How to attain a research career in the above mentioned research fields?

Those who wish to become a behavioural ecologist, a hydrobiologist or a zootaxonomist are suggested to get a Bachelor's Degree in biology first, for creating a professional knowledge foundation in the related fields of science. After that we propose completing the Master's Program in biology, including individual research activity joining a scientific research group, offering in-depth study of the discipline.

Finally, to fulfil the target of education we recommend to attend the Zootaxonomy, Animal Ecology, Hydrobiology Program of the Biology Doctoral School and get a PhD degree.

Department of Biochemistry

head of dept.:
web page:
Mihály Kovács professor
1117 Budapest, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C.,
(+36-1) 381-2171;   (+36-1) 372-2500 /8071
(+36-1) 381-2172

Scientific discipline

Biochemistry arose at the intersection of biology and chemistry, however today it is much more closely related to life sciences, and it is the most important discipline for molecular understanding of life processes. Although biochemistry in the classical sense dealt with the description of the molecular components of living systems, metabolism and bioenergetics, contrarily, today almost all biochemists at biochemistry departments and research institutes pursue molecular biology. The latter term cannot be restricted to the synthesis of information macromolecules and the processes of biological information flow, but reflects the view that research problems can be studied at the level of molecules by using molecular biology methods not only within “infra-individual biology” but in many fields of “supra-individual biology” (including taxonomy and evolutionary biology).


The Department of Biochemistry, based on the above definition, offers lectures and practical courses in biochemistry and molecular biology in both Bachelor’s and Master’s programs in biology. We have recently initiated a new course for first year students, together with other departments, "Introduction to Laboratory Practice and Biological Calculations". The Department's educational portfolio also includes courses in biophysics and gene technology methodology as well as theoretical and practical training in protein science. Finally, we are also involved in the newly established Master's program in biotechnology and bioinformatics.


The 50-year-old Department of Biochemistry was founded by Endre Bíró, who started his research career in Albert Szent-Györgyi’s group in Budapest. We are proud of this research lineage, and that we could follow the footsteps of the greatest Hungarian biochemist, the Nobel Prize winner Albert Szent-Györgyi. Indeed, muscle biochemistry has been for two decades the major and very successful research area of the Department, and even today, we keep studying motor proteins. Another great figure in the history of the Department, is László Gráf. He initiated the structural and functional examination of serine proteases in the mid-80s, and it is still amongst our research topics. Over the last two decades, our research portfolio has significantly expanded and diversified and basic research in protein science has been complemented with applied research, projects in drug development and biomarker studies.
Currently, six research teams conduct research at the Department, complemented by 3 award-winning postdoctoral fellows, who work partly as independent researchers. Our researches are mainly supported by the National Research, Development and Innovation Office and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. One of our team leader was the first scientist of the Biology Institute of our University who was awarded a highly competitive grant from the European Research Council. Our research projects are implemented in extensive domestic and international cooperation. Our industrial cooperation partners include the pharmaceutical company, Richter Gedeon NyRt.

Our main research topics are:

  • Bioinformatics analysis of linear protein motifs.
  • The function of motor proteins involved in cell division and genomic repair.
  • Motor enzymes as new pharmacological targets.
  • Directed evolution of proteins - basic research and drug development.
  • Investigation of the secondary structure of proteins by CD spectroscopy.
  • Studies of amyloid protein aggregation.
  • Protein-protein interactions in signal transduction: structure-function studies

Departmental life

We have mostly biology, but also chemistry, biophysics, and bioengineering major students doing research at the Department. Almost all of our students participate in Students’ Scientific Association (TDK) conferences and almost every year we have prize winners. Our PhD students are have educational assignments (involved in laboratory courses as well as overseeing and evaluating undergraduate thesis work), and they report on their research progress annually in the Structural Biochemistry doctoral program associated with the Department. There are foreign students and postdoctoral fellows working at the Department, so it is place to practice the English language daily.
We participate regularly and in large numbers at the national and international conferences of our scientific field. We support the application of our students and young colleagues for international (EMBO, FEBS) workshops and short-term foreign laboratory works through research group collaborations. As a relaxation, we have won several times (almost every year) the „ELTE’s Most Sporty Department” award.

How can I become a biochemist or protein researcher?

At the Department of Biochemistry we are seeking for dedicated students who performed well in biochemistry courses, who want to follow a research career path. After graduating as biology major (or as chemist, bioengineer, biophysicist), you should apply for one of ELTE’s biology or biotechnology Master’s program. If choosing the former one, choose the Molecular, immune and microbiology or the Bioinformatics specialization.
While working on your undergraduate thesis work, try to join a research group (participate at TDK or other conferences) and you will have good chances to apply for a scholarship in the Structural Biochemistry program within the Biology Doctoral School. If you work hard and you are successful in your research, you can expect additional financial support (as fellowships or as student’s contract from your supervisor).

Career opportunities

Getting a Master’s degree from the Department of Biochemistry (including the new Biotechnology program) will provide you good chances in getting jobs at Hungarian or foreign biotechnology or pharmaceutical firms. A PhD degree obtained at Eötvös University has a good value for postdoctoral position at almost any universities or research institutes around the world.

Where can I apply for a TDK work or for a research degree?

Write an email to a professor / researcher whose research topic has attracted your interest:

For e-mail addresses visit:

For more information about the Department of Biochemistry, please visit:

Department of Biological Anthropology

head of dept.:
web page:
Krisztina Takács-Vellai assoc. professor
1117 Budapest, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C.,
(+36-1) 381-2161;   (+36-1) 372-2500 /8061
(+36-1) 381-2162
Research fields of human biology

Human biology includes numerous disciplines (human genetics, human evolution and evolution of primates, human population genesis, human morphology, morphometry, auxology). Human biology focuses on the temporal (ontogeny, evolution, secular trends, biological reconstruction of past populations) and geographical (population differences, geographical variations, haplotypes) diversity in the development and morphology of the human body. Furthermore, research on the field of human biology includes the overview of abnormalities in the structure and function of the human body (human genetics, paleopathology). Anthropological and human genetical methods applied on past and recent populations are used in human biology research.

As human biology have numerous connections with distant disciplines, besides biologists and biology teachers we lecture students from department of archaeology, geography and earth sciences.


In the human biology education we would like to express the diversity discussed above.

Human growth and development
The course summarizes the main processes of prenatal and postnatal development, from the proontogenesis through fertilisation to the development of human organs and organ systems, as well as the morphological comparison of fetal and developed organs.

The course will introduce students to the aim of study ancient diseases and how to recognize the paleopathological alterations. Sources, difficulties, and limits of paleopathology are presented based on recent scientific papers.

Human evolution
The aim of the course is to present general characteristics and taxonomy of primates based on anthropological and genetic results. Primate and human evolution, including appearance and migration, are discussed considering the fossils and the newest genetic results.

Physical anthropological research methods
Within the course the classical anthropoligical methods (age estimation, sex determination, osteometry, craniometry) are presented in practice. The interdisciplinary approaches (stable isotope analysis, archaeogenetic) and their potential in bioarchaeology is discussed based on recent scientific papers.


The current research topics of the Department of Biological Anthropology: Physical anthropological research and biological reconstruction of past populations of the Carpathian Basin – with special regard to the origin and continuity of prehistoric and Migration Period populations. Diseases, health, well-being and lifestyle in pre/historical periods. The growth pattern of children with hypothyroidism. The relationship between vitamin D supply and body structure parameters in children. Age changes and sexual dimorphism in basal metabolic rate. Analysing the biological function of tumor suppressor and metastasis inhibitor genes using a genetic model organism, tumor cell lines and human patients’ samples.

Activities at the Dept. of Biological Anthropology

In our research, conducted at the Human Biology Department, not only biologists, but physicians, physicists, IT scientists and engineers are also involved.
We investigate our projects in several domestic and foreign collaborations.

Career opportunities

Knowledge obtained in our department and during the MSc studies in the Humanbiology/Neuroscience specialization enable students to medical-biological research as well as work in developmental departments of companies ranging from innovative start-ups to big pharma. After getting the MSc degree, the students can start PhD education. They are welcome to start PhD education in our Program as well. The MSc students in human biology specialization can start their careers in Hungarian and Foreign museums handling anthropological collections, as well as in forensic, epidemiologic and higher educational institutions.

How can I become a human biologist?

The easiest way for the candidate is to apply for the ELTE Biology BSc program. As an undergraduate student, it will be possible to take more and more courses involving different subjects in human biology and become familiar with research studies at the department. The next step is to take part of the Neuroscience and Human biology MSc specialization, where more knowledge can be learned on the field of human biology and its closely related disciplines (e.g. physiology, genetics, evolutionary biology).

The qualification of anthropologists is completed with a 4 year PhD education at the Doctoral School of Biology.  The successful applicant must have a BSc and a MSc degree, a good command of English and personal qualities such as perseverance, motivation, creativity.

How can I apply for a project conducted by the Dept. of Biological Anthropology?

If any topic raised your interest, e-mail the corresponsive researcher.

Department of Ethology

head of dept.:
web page:
Ádám Miklósi professor
1117 Budapest, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C.,
(+36-1) 381-2179;   (+36-1) 372-2500 /8079
(+36-1) 381-2180 
Under constraction

Department of Physiology and Neurobiology

head of dept.:
web page:
Árpád Dobolyi professor
1117 Budapest, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C.,
(+36-1) 381-2181;   (+36-1) 372-2500 /8081
(+36-1) 381-2182
Description of the research field

Neurobiological research has prominent traditions in Hungary, several eminent scientists took part already in pioneering neurobiological experiments. The research field is broad, there are still many exciting unanswered questions from elucidating the molecular basis of memory to the research of artificial intelligence, or discovering therapeutic approaches for nervous system disorders. Research in our Department is carried out in the different fields of neuroscience and neurobiology; research interest extends from histological, membrane biophysical analysis of cellular processes to the behavior of animals. In addition to basic theoretical questions, important practical research is also being carried out at the Department.


The teaching of Physiology as an independent subject at universities began about 50 years ago. The Faculty of Science of ELTE was among the first faculties where a separate department was established for the teaching of this discipline. Currently, our educational activity covers the whole area of ​​animal physiology, among others the circulatory, respiratory, secretory system and the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract are discussed. Particular emphasis is placed on the teaching of human regulatory functions. Teachers of the Department consider it important that, in addition to theoretical knowledge, future biology teachers and researchers familiarize themselves with the practical application of modern experimental tools. On the Master level, students can learn about different areas of neuroscience and acquire basic knowledge about the structure and functioning of the nervous system. Our educators are investing a lot of work in order to provide students with the adequate, modern educational demonstration material for both practical and theoretical lessons.


Remarkable progress has been made in recent decades towards understanding the structure and functioning of the nervous system. However, due to the lengthening of human life and the acceleration of lifestyle, the appearance of diseases affecting the nervous function can also be observed. In addition to individual problems, these represent a significant socio-economic burden. Exploring the normal nervous system function, behavior and the underlying cellular processes can provide solutions to many unanswered questions. By using different experimental methods, these studies have a great tradition in our department.

Experimental work is currently organized into four research groups:

  • The Neural Cell Biology Research Group analyzes the molecular processes underlying memory problems and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • In the Molecular and Systems Neurobiology Research Group, the molecular and neuronal network background of intraspecific social behaviors is the main field of research.
  • The background of normal and pathological synchronized rhythmic neuronal activity is studied in the Microelectrophysiology Research Group on living rodents and on surviving brain slices. Primarily, sleep patterns and seizure patterns are analyzed.
  • In the Neurochemistry Research Group, the molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders are undergoing basic and translational research.
  • Extensive Neurotoxicological studies are also taking place at the Department with the participation of all research groups.

The funding of research work is provided by the National Research and Development and Innovation Office, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the European Union. Significant collaborations have also been made between laboratories, but domestic and foreign co-operation outside the Department is also being implemented. Each year, 15-20 scientific publications are published at the Department, which appear in noted journals of the field.

Life at the Department

In addition to Biology students, we also offer relevant research topics for students in Environmental sciences, Bioinformatics, Biophysics and Medicine. Taking advantage of the ERASMUS program or other scholarships, students regularly arrive from many European countries or from other parts of the world, and participate in research at the Department and prepare their thesis.

At our Department, basic Physiology lectures and practicals are held also in English; and the students attending Master's programs can choose between Hungarian- and English-language courses. This gives an opportunity to our graduates to get involved into international scientific life without difficulties. Teachers at the Department also promote talent management and scientific dissemination; we regularly participate at several such programs.

Career opportunities

Students who obtain a Master's or PhD degree at the Department of Physiology and Neurobiology are mainly involved in the field of neuroscience. Nervous system research is internationally recognized, but it is also highly supported in Hungary; research concerning the structure of the brain and normal or abnormal functioning of the nervous system is important both from the theoretical and practical point of view. Accordingly, our students are mostly involved in basic research at the academic sphere, in domestic or foreign research institutes, but many start a career at companies dealing with drug research or other healthcare research.

How to become a neurobiologist?

Students interested in natural sciences should apply for ELTE Biology Bachelor's Degree (BSc). In addition to obtaining compulsory physiological knowledge, the student may already take up special neurobiological subjects during the initial training course, where he or she can get to know theoretical neurobiological problems and experimental techniques. An ambitious, committed student can join the research work at the Department or join a team of neurobiological investigators at a number of other research institutes with the assistance of a departmental consultant. By engaging in lab experiments, the students may achieve an academic student thesis (TDK – Scientific Student Association). At the MSc level, it is recommended to choose the Neuroscience-Human Biology specialization, where faculty members and external specialists can provide deeper knowledge in different areas of neurobiology.

In the framework of the Biology Doctoral School, the student interested in the field of neuroscience may complete a four-year training program at the Neurobiology and Human Biology subprogram and gain a PhD degree. Excellent research work carried out during the university years with persistence, enthusiasm and self-sufficiency, coupled with good English language skills, is a guarantee for further successful work in the chosen discipline.

How can I apply for lab work at the department?

Contact by e-mail the group leader of the lab the topic of which have challenged you. You can find the e-mail addresses on the own homepage of the department.
Homepage  title of the Department of Physiology and Neurobiology:

Department of Genetics

head of dept.:
web page:
Tibor Vellai professor
1117 Budapest, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C.,
(+36-1) 381-2173;   (+36-1) 372-2500 /8073
(+36-1) 381-2174
Genetics, as a basic integrative discipline of biological sciences

Genetics primarily deals with the inheritance of organisms’ phenotypic traits. The major goal of this discipline is to uncover the biological function of genes and their products (primarily proteins), using mainly in vivo (living) model systems. This aim can be primarily achieved by modulating gene activity (isolation of mutant alleles and performing gene silencing) and assessing the effect of such genetic interventions. By today, genetics became an integrative, basic discipline within biological sciences. This position of genetics is nicely expressed by Sydney Brenner at the ceremony of Nobel prize award in 2002: „I almost forgot to say that genetics will disappear as a separate science since, in the 21th century, everything in biology will become gene-based, and every biologist will be a geneticist.”

Beyond its fundamental role in biological sciences of 21th century, genetics is also everywhere in our everyday life. There is almost no day without a media news on genetics. Modern medicine and pharmaceutical industry, most of the products generated by agriculture and cosmetic industry, DNA-based forensic sciences, many aspects of sport, and several other “civilian” areas each rely on the result of genetic research. Hence, genetics play a fundamental role in our industrial society. It provides theoretical and practical bases for technology, medicine and the protection of environment, and influences our everyday life.


Teaching activity at the Department of Genetics primarily relies on knowledge provided by the main course Genetics and its associated Genetics practical course. Our teachers can provide almost every aspect of classical and modern (molecular) genetic research for students. Within a wide spectrum of obligatory and specialized courses, they can provide a deep insight into the following areas: molecular genetics, genomics, epigenetics, gene regulation, genetic interactions (epistasis analysis), bioinformatics (mainly analyzing DNA and protein sequences), developmental genetics, microbial genetics, and evolutionary genetics. In our teaching system, applied fields, such as forensic genetics, tumor genetics, genetic diseases and human origin, are heavily treated. Our vision in teaching is that a scientist with a great research experience in a certain field should give lectures on that particular subject, rather than extracting a dry knowledge from text books. Thus, a colleague with international recognition on a particular field teaches the subject in which he/she is experienced.

Every year around 3-9 novel doctorandus start their PhD work in our genetics PhD program.  Most of them receive the PhD degree after completing their training and thesis work, and then initiate a postdoc period in an outstanding laboratory on abroad.


The current research activity at the Department of Genetics is mainly represented by projects focusing on developmental genetics. In their frame, the following genetic model systems are examined: the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, zebrafish (Danio rerio), a chordate, and red deer (Cervus ephalus), a mammalian model. By using these in vivo systems, the next research projects are currently under investigation:

  • understanding the regulation and mechanism of the ageing project
  • biological basis of neuronal aging
  • uncovering novel cellular and developmental functions of autophagy (cellular self-eating)
  • regulation of autophagy by myotubularin phosphateses
  • the role of autophagy in tissue regeneration
  • developing autophagy-inducing drug candidates with potent antiaging and neuroprotective effects
  • identifying new generation drug candidates with potent antitumorigenic effect (cancer therapy)
  • orchestrated control of cellular stress response pathways
  • identifying downstream targets of the nematode sex-determining pathway
  • exploring the biological function of adenine methylation
  • early development in zebrafish
  • assessing the function of human disease genes in zebrafish
  • analyzing the role of Bloom (RecQ) helicases in zebrafish and C. elegans
  • regulatory defects leading to osteoporosis, genomics of red deer

Beyond research on developmental genetics, several bioinformatical (signaling crosstalk database construction) and human genetic (individual identification upon genetic polymorphism) analyses are performed by our PIs.
Our current research activity is supported by 2 OTKA, 1 MTA research group, 1 VEKOP (excellence) and 1 MedInProt research grants.

Life at our Department

The door of the Department of Genetics is always open for those interested in research and science. To achieve the goals of our research programs, we have developed fruitful collaborations with groups located at other departments of our Institute, and with researchers from other institutes. We have established a tight cooperation with the following research units: MTA TTK Institute of Enzymology, ELTE Institute of Chemistry (Department of Organic Chemistry), Institute of Molecular Biology, Medical Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry at Semmelweis University, MBK-NAIK in Gödöllő, and Institute of Genetics at SZBK in Szeged. In our department, several research programs have been realized by collaboration among different groups. Every week we demonstrate our results and problems in the frame of a progress report. Invited scientists also give a special-topic lecture monthly. Several social events (sport day, night of researchers, Christmas party) are used to bring us together.

TDK and diploma works

Information on programs and research groups at the Department of Genetics can be obtained from our homepage. Students who are interested in genetics should look after the person whose project is sympathetic. Group leaders and their contact:


Obtaining sufficient information and knowledge from genetics will provide a good job opportunity at both basic and applied fields. Basic science: PhD training, university departments (research and medical), research institutes (MTA TTK Institute of Enzymology; Agricultural Biotechnology Institute; Institute of Genetics at the Biological Research Centre, Szeged; National Research Institute). Applied: pharmaceutical industry, clinics, private sector dealing with research development.

How can I become a geneticist?

High motivation in having knowledge and performing experiments in the field of genetics. Successful BSc (as biologist) and MSc (specialization to Genetics, Cell and Developmental Biology) training. Successful PhD training and getting degree (Doctoral School of Biology, program genetics).

Department of Immunology

head of dept.:
web page:
Imre Kacskovics professor
1117 Budapest, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C.,
(+36-1) 381-2175;   (+36-1) 372-2500 /8075
(+36-1) 381-2176
Description of the scientific field

Immunology is a branch of biology that investigates the defence mechanisms of the body. The main function of the immune system is to discriminate between self and non-self-structures; moreover, it is able to identify hazard and respond to these inputs in different ways. In this sense, the immune system is a system for recognition, transmission of information and effector (executive, destroying) functions.
The immune system „ignores” the structures recognised as self and responds with tolerance to them. The structures recognised as non-self induce immune response that leads to the neutralization, destruction and elimination of the antigen that triggered the response. Immune homeostasis relies on the recognition of altered self and non-self structures entering the body and on the immune response they generate.


The Department of Immunology at ELTE was the first immunological department established in Hungary and even today it is the only one dedicated exclusively to immunological sciences. The knowledge and interest (both in teaching and research) of the members of the department covers the whole spectrum of immunology and immune homeostasis ranging from innate to adaptive immunity. Parallel to the basic or discovery research projects, applied research plays important role, as well.
These goals are well represented by our individual researcher-teacher members at all levels of education at the University from BSc and MSc to PhD. Some of our research projects rely on collaborations with pharmaceutical companies and hospitals, that enables our students to get insight into how research findings can be applied. The research projects at our department attract many BSc, MSc and PhD students who are then involved in these investigations. 

Research projects

The Department of Immunology has research projects investigating both innate (linked to immune homeostasis) and adaptive immunity and the integrated operation of these two arms of the immune system. In many cases the goal of the investigations is the better understanding of pathological conditions of the immune system and discovering early diagnostic tools to detect these diseases in time or to contribute to the effective treatment of them with knew knowledge.

Current research projects at the Department of Immunology:

  • The interplay between the human innate (complement system) and adaptive immunity.
  • The role of normal and mutant complement factor H (FH), FH-related proteins, and that of FH-specific autoantibodies in ocular and renal diseases
  • Describing the role and enumerating different B lymphocyte populations in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), that play crucial role in the pathogenesis of the disease.
  • Investigating the diversity of the B lymphocyte repertoire in rheumatoid arthritis and myeloma multiplex with next generation sequencing (NGS) and bioinformatics analysis of the data.
  • Developing cell-based assays for pharmaceutical companies as part of our immune biotechnological research and development activity

We use up-to-date classical immunological, cell- and molecular biological methods to investigate the above-mentioned topics. We realize these research projects in national as well as international collaboration with partners from the academic field, pharmaceutical companies and clinical investigators.

Currently, we have four workgroups at the Department, supported by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the National Research, Development and Innovation Office. The research activity of the Department results in 15-20 publications in top journals of the scientific field yearly.

Life at the Department of Immunology

Besides biologists, doctors, veterinarians, physicists and bioinformaticians are welcome to join our department.
The Department of Immunology is continuously popular among the talented students. At the moment, 10 doctoral students and 13 undergraduate students work with us. Moreover, a significant number of students choose immunology as the topic of their BSc thesis.
Each year, our department maintains its "team building" on a sports day, which is typically hold at the ELTE water sports facility, doing dragon boating, kayaking and cooking Hungarian kettle goulash.

Carrier options

Our primary goal is to train researchers who will work in the field of immunology after obtaining their PhD degree. These experts are needed both at universities and in research projects all around the world. The knowledge in immunology is highly appreciated since several diseases have an immunological background; moreover, the latest treatments are therapeutical antibodies (biologicals). To this end, both national and international research institutes, hospitals, pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies seek for immunologists and further carrier options are offered for who are specialized in biotechnology (e.g., development of antibody based therapies).

How can I become an immunologist?

The easiest way to start is studying biology BSc at ELTE. As a university student, everyone has the opportunity the take immunological courses and join one of the research teams at our Department. The next step is MSc in Molecular-, Immuno- and Microbiology, where even more lectures and practical courses are available in immunology and the related scientific fields. University students at all levels (even during BSc) are welcome at the Department of Immunology to gain hands-on experience in immunology research.

Highest education of the future immunologists is finished with a 4-year doctoral programme in immunology at the Doctorate School in Biology at ELTE. Prerequisites to defend a PhD thesis are MSc degree, excellent scientific research and appropriate knowledge in English, and personal qualities like endurance, motivation and creativity.

Where and how can I apply to join the Department of Immunology as a student?

Students interested can apply by writing an email to the professor whose research group they would like to join. The e-mail addresses can be found here.


Department of Microbiology

head of dept.:
web page:
Erika Tóth habil. assoc. prof.
1117 Budapest, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C.,
(+36-1) 381-2177;   (+36-1) 372-2500 /8077
(+36-1) 381-2178
Description of scientific area

The main research topics of the Department of Microbiology (ELTE) is connected to microbial ecology: to answer the classical questions of ecology we use cultivation (classical and special methods) as well as cultivation independent techniques (T-RFLP, DGGE, NGS) while analysing the diversity of different habitats (aquatic habitats - including extreme environments, soils, etc.). At the same time often our work is focused on applied studies (eg. degradation of xenobiotics in nature with the help of microbes, waste water treatment, composting, etc.). Microbial taxonomy (polyphasic approach) is also a part of our research fields.


The Department of Microbiology offers a broad spectrum of education: students after finishing the secondary school, BSc or MSc studies can take part in different education programmes.
We teach both in the Biology and Environmental Science School in level of BSc, MSc and also take part in teacher students’ education in form of lectures and practicals.
As a special education we train also microbiologists: it aims to provide microbiological specialists with the expertise at wide range of microbiological fields, e.g. industrial or clinical microbiology or even microbiology management.

Research topics

Research topics of the Department Microbiology are connected mainly to microbial ecology using wide range of techniques (cultivation as well as cultivation independent, molecular methods, focusing on bacteria). Moreover, we have projects connected to applied microbiology.

  • Microorganisms of natural environments: aquatic habitats - study of algae and bacterial communities of rivers, lakes, springs, etc., among them some extreme environments:  revealing bacterial communities of soda lakes (in Transilvania as well as in Hungarian regions) or oligotrophic habitats. Study of bacteria in soils including soil biom research topics. Study of animal and plant - microbe interactions.
  • Studies in prokaryotic taxonomy: identification of bacteria, polyphasic description of novel bacterial taxa.
  • Applied microbiological studies: study of degradation of xenobiotics by microbes, developing special cultures for agricultural use, composting, sewage treatment, etc.

Life at the Department

Our colleges work in research groups within the department and often having live connections with engineers, doctors or researchers from the industry. We have strong connection with Sapientia University (Transilvania), where our colleges teach and having common research topics. In form of workshops we share our knowledge each second week (department seminars). More about the life at the Department of Microbiology you can find information at our facebook site: (


At the Department of Microbiology we “develop” scientists who can work later at any field of microbiology: in the industry (e.g. food or drug industry), in the clinical fields, control laboratories or any research fields. Our students successful in Hungary as well as abroad.

How to be a microbiologist?

The simplest solution is to come to ELTE biology BSc then MSc on the MIM specialisation (Molecular, Immunology and Microbiology). At the end of this education there are two doctoral schools which you can try to enter: Biology and Environmental Sciences Doctoral Schools. Or after having a diploma of biological interest - you can come to special microbiologist education for 3 semesters.

Where can I apply for a student work?

Search for the teacher/scientist whom topics are interested for you (address of colleges are available at our website:

Department of Plant Physiology and Molecular Plant Biology

head of dept.:
web page:
Ferenc Fodor habil. assoc. prof.
1117 Budapest, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C.,
(+36-1) 381-2163;   (+36-1) 372-2500 /8063
(+36-1) 381-2164
Description of the scientific field

Classical and molecular plant physiology is aimed to investigate the physiology, molecular biology and ecophysiology of plants together with their interaction with other organisms such as fungi. The area of interest includes field and individual (without and with fungal symbiont) level, studied by biophysical, photobiological, metabolite and proteomic techniques to the molecular biology of plants, the plant breeding and the agrarian biotechnology. The research area of the department is in a close connection with instrumental analytical chemistry and atomic physics research (agrochemistry, soil science, plant ionomics).


Within plant science the education profile of our department focuses on the metabolism, development, photobiology and molecular biology of plants together with mycological (fungal metabolism) and ecophysiological courses. Plant physiology as an independent discipline was first introduced to the educational profile of the Eötvös Loránd University by Sándor Mágocsy-Dietz around the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. The predecessor in title of our department was founded by Árpád Paál de facto in 1929 and de jure in 1943. According to the present status of the discipline, plant molecular biology was incorporated to the educational profile.

Lecturers of the department give a look inside to all disciplines of plant physiology and molecular plant biology for students choosing courses in plant biology, including metabolism and development of plants, plant photobiology and fungal physiology. Students can also acquire practical knowledge of plant science, since they are educated on the instrumental setup also involved in the scientific research work.


Among the greatest challenges of humankind in the 21st century are the increasing population and the enhancement of extremities in the climate that not only influence the natural flora but the agricultural lands as well. Plant science: plant physiology, molecular plant biology and mycology are aimed to understand these processes and eliminate their effects. Among the research topics of the department there are field ecophysiological and plant-fungus interaction studies (at inland and European sites) and laboratory physiological and molecular biological topics, too:

  • Investigation of the iron homeostasis and iron uptake system of plants including the uptake and utilisation of iron containing nanomaterials
  • Metal uptake and accumulation of energy plants. Stress tolerance, recultivation, phytoremediation, and utilisation of sewage sludge.
  • Physiological and molecular biological background of desiccation tolerance in plants.
  • Mechanism of action of some stress protective compounds of natural origin
  • Studies of wheat storage proteins in a model system
  • Edible vaccine production in GM plants
  • Producing marker-free, visually distinguishable transgenic plants
  • Biology and application of ectomycorrhiza
  • Biology and agronomic use of arbuscular mycorrhiza
  • Investigation of coenologic and soil properties of the natural habitats of hypogeal truffles for establishing orchards.
  • Biotechnological investigations of insect pathogenic fungi.

Other scientific disciplines such as plant anatomy, optics and biophysics, instrumental analytics and agrarian technology are also involved in these research fields.

The department has nine full position employees (lecturers and researchers). Research groups overlap since they are formed on the basis of research projects rather than individuals. Ongoing investigations are supported by the National Office for Development, Research and Innovation of the Hungarian Government and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. As a result of the intensive research the research groups are often publish their results in leading journals of plant science, mycology and agronomy.

Life at the Department

Besides biologists, chemists, physics and agrarian engineers are also involved in our ongoing investigations. Students are hosted from European and non-European countries for studies, to be involved in scientific research and for traineeship each year.

English is used constantly or temporarily in certain research groups as official language, thus not only hosted students but also Hungarian students can gain practice in an international environment. The connection network of our department is widespread thus there are strong connections to other groups all over inside and outside the EU.

Career opportunities

Based on plant ecophysiology, experimental physiology and molecular plant biology courses, former students are successfully employed both in research and industry in the field of agrarian biotechnology, pharmaceutical biology as well as at environmental protection organisations and national parks. Some of our previous students continued their studies and obtained grants at European and overseas universities or got employed at inland research institutes, universities or research & development companies.

How to get involved in ecology or theoretical biology?

To be a plant biologist, the best way is to participate in the bachelor studies in biology at Eötvös Loránd University first, than continue the studies at master level in the specialization Plant Biology. Being bachelor and master student, there are more and more opportunities to take up courses focusing on plant biology and got involved into scientific research. At master level, students can get special knowledge in plant physiology, plant anatomy, molecular plant biology, pharmaceutical botany and mycology.

The education of plant biologists continues with a 4 year doctoral study period in the Doctoral School in Biology, Experimental Plant Biology program. For a successful entry bachelor and master diplomas, excellent research work, adequate knowledge in English and personal qualities such as tenancy, motivation and creativity are required.

How to find a student research project?

Get contact to staff members whose research topic is interesting for you. E-mail addresses are available here.

To get information on the ongoing research and open programs of the Department of Plant Physiology and Molecular Plant Biology, please visit:

Department of Plant Systematics, Ecology and Theoretical Biology

head of dept.:
web page:
Tibor Standovár habil. assoc. prof.
1117 Budapest, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C.,
(+36-1) 381-2187;   (+36-1) 372-2500 /8087
(+36-1) 381-2188 
Description of the scientific field

The department is home to a traditionally diverse community of scientists whose research spans several fields of science. The theoretical aspect of ecology focuses on the fundamental laws and interactions that shape the structure of biological communities, while the practical aspect involves the study of particular ecosystems and habitats, with respect to their organization, status, and changes over time, with increasing emphasis on the impact of human activity and the possibilities of conservation.

Theoretical biology is defined, uniquely within biology, not by what it studies, but by the methods that it uses. It can involve the study of any living system that is sufficiently complex to warrant a specialized theoretical (conceptual or modelling) approach. Lastly, systematics is concerned with the theoretical foundations and practical application of the classification of living organisms, building largely on evolutionary theory.


The department is responsible for the teaching of plant systematics and ecology, the flora of Hungary, biogeography, conservation biology and biostatistics, in the basic curricula of the BSc and MSc programmes in Biology and Environmental Science. In addition to theoretical lectures, students participate in field and computer courses to acquire practical skills. The department also offers a broad selection of optional courses (typically taught in small, interactive classes) in the fields of theoretical and applied ecology, evolutionary biology, and mathematical and computer modelling in biology. The department also contributes to the teaching of courses on best practices in research.


Preserving a liveable natural environment in the face of increasing human population and anthropogenic effects is among the greatest challenges of the 21st century. Researchers of the department conduct long-term studies to monitor changes in the natural environment of Hungary, and perform controlled treatment experiments to predict how global warming and the expected increasing frequency of droughts and forest fires might affect natural vegetation within the country. They collaborate with experts in forestry to develop forest management practices aimed to maintain forests close to their natural state. Studies are often performed in the frame of international collaborations, giving rise to results of broad significance that go beyond the national level.

The theoretical biology group at the same department studies fundamental problems of evolution: the origin and early evolution of life (RNA World, the origin of eukaryotes), the general laws and major transitions of evolution, the emergence of cooperation and language, the evolution of human behaviour, and the evolutionary background of diseases and the defences against them. They work with the complete toolbox of theoretical and computational biology: mathematical and computer simulations, complex data analysis, and formulating hypotheses based on literature mining. The group is international leader, publishing regularly in top-tier journals of the field. Finally, at the intersection of applied ecology and theoretical biology, there are also studies conducted in the modelling of ecological processes, and on the intermediate time scale of evolutionary ecology at the department.

Research at the department is funded by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; the National Research, Development and Innovation Office; the European Union; and the Swiss Contribution programme.

Life at the department

The department hosts two research groups of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, effectively doubling the size of the unit, and contributing substantially to both the scientific output and teaching activities. Monthly group meetings provide a forum for informal progress talks, creating regular interaction between the researchers with widely varying interests. A productive research environment is further promoted by an extensive network of collaborations both inside the country (e.g. with the MTA Centre for Ecological Research) and abroad. Members of the department play an active organizing role in various public outreach (popular science lectures, Elevator Speech Contest) and talent promoting (Science Student Conference, Spring Schools) activities of the Institute of Biology.

Career opportunities

Research ecologists in Hungary find career opportunities at universities and in the research network of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences: the MTA Centre for Ecological Research consists of a number of research institutes in the country, specializing in various fields of ecology. Outside academia, graduated students can find employment in governmental (ministries, regulating bodies, national parks) and non-governmental organizations involved in environmental issues and conservation. Theoretical biology is also represented in the research institutes of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and the international renown and network of the theoretical group ensures broad career opportunities abroad. Furthermore, computational methods play an increasingly important role in biology, with applications also in biotechnology.

How to get involved in ecology or theoretical biology?

The MSc in Biology programme of Eötvös University (ELTE) includes a specialization in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology, with a flexible curriculum that offers training in both ecology and theoretical biology. The simplest entry to the MSc training is provided by the BSc in Biology programme of the university. The two programmes have been designed to offer a seamlessly integrated, up-to-date framework of education in these fields, while taking the BSc at ELTE also provides opportunities for the students to get acquainted, in advance, with the topics and tutors that they will need to choose from for the research project required for the completion of the MSc. Finally, a career in research now requires also a PhD degree, which can be obtained in the ELTE Doctoral School of Biology, with dedicated programmes for both ’Ecology, Conservation Biology and Systematics’ and ’Theoretical and Evolutionary Biology’.

How to find a student research project?

You are advised to contact the researcher whose research topic you are interested in; see the list of e-mail addresses.

Department of Plant Anatomy

head of dept.:
web page:
Gábor M. Kovács habil. assoc. prof.
1117 Budapest, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C.,
(+36-1) 381-2165;   (+36-1) 372-2500 /8065
(+36-1) 381-2204

Description of the specific field

The Department undertakes a range of research activities focusing on studies within the fields of plant biology and mycology. Investigations into plant organization focus on the structure of plant cells, tissues, and organs, whilst the work on fungi and plant-fungal interactions includes both functional and diversity studies. Another major research area is centered around various secondary metabolites of plants and fungi.
In addressing the questions associated with these research areas it is crucial to consider the developmental and evolutionary contexts as well as the interactions with biotic and abiotic environmental factors. This is achieved through complementing the primary microscopic and analytical methods with studies drawing upon contributions from the fields of molecular biology, genomics, physiology and ecology, with occasional overlap into the fields of agriculture, medicine, and the food industry. By this means, an overall multidisciplinary approach is promoted.


Our Department makes a significant contribution to the education of biology students, biology teachers and biophysics students, predominantly through delivering lectures and conducting practical laboratory activities related to cell biology and the anatomy of plants and fungi. Students pursuing biology through BSc, MSc and postgraduate (doctoral) training are also introduced to various areas of modern plant biology, mycology and natural product research, as well as to the relevant experimental methods and possible applications. The Department also takes part in the postgraduate microbiology education of Eötvös Loránd University, as well as teaching pharmacy students from the Semmelweis University, Budapest.


Similarly to the education, research topics are both thematically and methodologically diverse at the Department of Plant Anatomy. In many cases research is undertaken in cooperation with national and international bodies. The Department's four main research directions are: (i) Studies dealing with the structural and functional changes of plastids (e.g. plastid differentiation photosynthesis) induced by environmental stimuli, along with associated. (ii) Applications of different microscopic techniques and ultrastructural investigations to clarify functional questions of plant and plant-microbe interactions. (iii) Identification and isolation of natural bioactive metabolites of plant and fungal origin, analyses of their occurrence and studies on their use as potential medicinal compounds. (iv) Research focusing on the diversity, function and the importance of pathogenic and symbiotic plant associated fungi.

The Department's work on cell biology, functional plant anatomy, and mycology, has led to the accumulation of a significant breadth of knowledge, which is largely connected to other biological fields, as well as to analytical chemistry and pharmaceutical sciences. We also have expertise in the application of a range of microscopic methods (electron microscopy, confocal laser scanning microscopy, and various light microscopic techniques) which can be coupled with research methods and techniques from other specific fields, such as various chromatographic methods (UPLC-MS/MS, HPLC and GC) and spectroscopy (CD, NMR, fluorescence spectroscopy and small-angle neutron scattering), PCR techniques, molecular phylogenetic analyses and comparative genomics, fluorescence in situ hybridization, and research methods of photosynthetic parameters.

Our research is supported by several grants from the National Research, Development and Innovation Office (OTKA, GINOP, VEKOP, NVKP, etc.) and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Each year we publish 20-30 scientific papers in prestigious journals.

Life at the Department

The cooperation between our different research groups and with other departments of Biological Institute and Eötvös University, as well as with other Hungarian and foreign institutions, has led to a genuine interdisciplinary environment. The international collaborations of the Department are enhanced by the training courses associated with undergraduates and PhD students from the English and German groups from Semmelweis University, by the Stipendium Hungaricum and ERASMUS scholarship fellows, and by interns and visiting researchers from a range of countries.

Career prospects

As a result of the diverse research directions, the Department of Plant Anatomy provides both thematically and methodologically diverse opportunities for students to explore the fields that they find most interesting. The degree of collaboration and cooperation within the Department and the University, as well as the various but interlinked topics, supports rapid professional development and provides an opportunity for students to acquire an enhanced understanding of complex topics through interdisciplinary exposure.
The Department trains students as future researchers and teachers, who may find positions at national and international universities and research institutes. Students may also go on to take up employment in the industrial and agricultural sectors.

How can you join in research conducted at the Department?

The simplest ways to join in research at the Department of Plant Anatomy are through undertaking a BSc in biology, or being a biology teacher student of Eötvös University, or being a pharmacy student of the Semmelweis University. We are also open to considering applications from students from other specific fields or students with other majors. If you are interested in any of the above topics, or in a certain subject, please contact our Department staff.
After graduating from BSc, you may choose the Plant Biology MSc specialization and acquire further comprehensive theoretical and practical knowledge of the field. The Experimental Plant Biology Program of the Doctorate School of Biology provides another opportunity to continue your studies and to gain a PhD degree. These postgraduate programs require full commitment, motivation and creativity.

Where can you apply for diploma work or for undergraduate research activity?                                                          

If you are interested in any field of research at the Department of Plant Anatomy, please contact the corresponding teacher or researcher personally or via email. Information on research topics and groups, as well as the contact details of our researchers/teachers can be found at the website of the Department.

PZs | 2020.02.18.