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Tkacik Group

Information Processing in Biological Systems

How do networks built out of biological components – neurons, signaling molecules, genes, or even cooperating organisms – process information? In contrast to engineered systems, biological networks operate under strong constraints due to noise, limited energy, or specificity, yet nevertheless perform their functions reliably. The group uses biophysics and information theory to understand the principles and mechanisms behind this remarkable phenomenon.

How can cells in a multicellular organism reproducibly decide what tissue they are going to become? How do neurons in the retina cooperate to best encode visual information into neural spikes? How does the physics at the microscopic scale, which dictates how individual regulatory molecules interact with each other, constrain the kinds of regulatory networks that are observed in real organisms today, and how can such networks evolve? These are some of the questions addressed by the Tkačik group. About half of their time is dedicated to data-driven projects performed in close collaboration with experimentalists, and half on purely theoretical projects. Their goal is to develop theoretical ideas about biological network function and connect them to high-precision data.

On this site:


Image of Reka Borbely

Reka Borbely

PhD Student

Image of Céline Camila Coraly Bräutigam

Céline Camila Coraly Bräutigam

PhD Student

Image of Athina Diakogianni

Athina Diakogianni

PhD Student

Image of Michal Hledik

Michal Hledik

PhD Student

Image of Fabrizio Lombardi

Fabrizio Lombardi

Postdoctoral Visiting Scientist

Image of Ekaterina Maksimova

Ekaterina Maksimova

PhD Student

Image of Tetiana Rabiichuk

Tetiana Rabiichuk

PhD Student

Image of Simon Rella

Simon Rella

PhD Student

Image of Julian Renaud

Julian Renaud

PhD Student

Image of Natalia Ruzickova

Natalia Ruzickova

PhD Student

Image of Sreyam Sengupta

Sreyam Sengupta

PhD Student

Image of Bahti Zakirov

Bahti Zakirov

PhD Student

Current Projects

Visual encoding in the retina | Genetic regulation during early embryogenesis | Collective dynamics | Evolution of gene regulation


Lombardi F, Pepic S, Shriki O, Tkačik G, De Martino D. 2023. Statistical modeling of adaptive neural networks explains co-existence of avalanches and oscillations in resting human brain. Nature Computational Science. View

Mlynarski WF, Tkačik G. 2022. Efficient coding theory of dynamic attentional modulation. PLoS Biology. 20(12), e3001889. View

Zoller B, Gregor T, Tkačik G. 2022. Eukaryotic gene regulation at equilibrium, or non? Current Opinion in Systems Biology. 31(9), 100435. View

Hledik M, Barton NH, Tkačik G. 2022. Accumulation and maintenance of information in evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 119(36), e2123152119. View

Ngampruetikorn V, Sachdeva V, Torrence J, Humplik J, Schwab DJ, Palmer SE. 2022. Inferring couplings in networks across order-disorder phase transitions. Physical Review Research. 4(2), 023240. View

View All Publications

ReX-Link: Gasper Tkacik


since 2017 Professor, Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA)
2011 – 2016 Assistant Professor, Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA)
2008 – 2010 Postdoc, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA
2007 Postdoc, Princeton University, USA
2007 PhD, Princeton University, USA

Selected Distinctions

2018 HFSP Grant
2012 HFSP Grant
2003 Burroughs-Wellcome Fellowship, Princeton University
2002 Golden Sign of the University of Ljubljana

Additional Information

Open Tkacik group website
Physics & Beyond at ISTA

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