Iva Tolić

Iva Tolić

Prof. dr. sc.

Senior Research Group Leader, Full Professor
+385 1 457 1370


Radionice 2

Ruđer Bošković Institute
Bijenička cesta 54
10000 Zagreb


  • 2002: PhD in biology, University of Zagreb, Croatia
  • 1999 – 2001: PhD work with Prof. Ning Wang, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  • 1997 – 1999: Graduate studies in molecular biology, Research assistant in the group of Prof. Nenad Trinajstić, Ruđer Bošković Institute and University of Zagreb, Croatia 
  • 1992 – 1996: Diploma in molecular biology, University of Zagreb, Croatia


  • 2015 – 2020: ERC Consolidator Grant. Topic: A new class of microtubules in the spindle exerting forces on kinetochores. Total amount granted: 2,150,000 EUR.
  • 2015 – 2019: Research grant from the Croatian Science Foundation (HRZZ). Topic: Oscillatory dynamics of the cytoskeleton. Total amount granted: 1,000,000 HRK (≈130,000 EUR).
  • 2015–2016: Grant from the European Social Fund (ESF), together with Igor Weber (PI), Ruđer Bošković Institute. Topic: Cytoskeletal dynamics and spindle assembly during cell division. Total amount granted: 1,600,000 HRK (≈210,000 EUR).
  • 2013 – 2016: Research grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG) together with Nenad Pavin, University of Zagreb. Topic: Kinetochore oscillations in mitotic metaphase. Total amount granted: 255,950 EUR.
  • 2013 – 2015: Research grant from the Unity Through Knowledge Fund (UKF) together with Nenad Pavin (PI), University of Zagreb. Topic: The role of microtubule pivoting in formation of complex structures such as microtubule bundles and mitotic spindles. Total cost of the project: 1,110,000 HRK (≈150,000 EUR).
  • 2012 – 2015: Research grant from DFG under the Priority Programme SPP 1384: Mechanisms of Genome Haploidization. Topic: Homologous chromosome pairing in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Total amount granted: 304,400 EUR.
  • 2010 – 2013: Research grant from the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP), with Juraj Gregan (PI, University of Vienna) and Daniela Cimini (Virginia Tech). Topic: Molecular architecture and mechanical properties of the kinetochore: a biophysical approach. Total amount granted: 1,000,000 $.
  • 2009 – 2012: Research grant from DFG under the Priority Programme SPP 1384: Mechanisms of Genome Haploidization. Topic: Homologous chromosome pairing in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Total amount granted: 252,600 EUR.
  • 2009 – 2012: Research grant from DFG together with Stefan Diez, MPI-CBG. Topic: In vitro reconstitution of motor-driven nuclear oscillations. Total amount granted: 304,800 EUR.
  • 2008 – 2012: Research grant from DFG. Topic: Meiotic nuclear oscillations in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Total amount granted: 246,600 EUR.
  • 2007 – 2011: Research grant from DFG. Topic: Mechanisms of mitotic spindle alignment by cytoplasmic microtubules and cell shape in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Total amount granted: 242,600 EUR.

Awards and Achievements

  • EMBO member, since 2018
  • Ignaz L. Lieben Award of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2017
  • Award "Didak" for science, 2017
  • National Science Award of the Republic of Croatia, 2016
  • Croatian Women of Influence Award, 2016
  • Special award of the Ruđer Bošković Institute for outstanding contribution to the scientific excellence and international recognition of the institute, 2015
  • European Biophysical Societies Association EBSA Young Investigators' Medal and Prize, 2015
  • 5000th ERC grantee, 2015
  • MRAK award for creativity in science awarded for the collaboration with the Ruđer Bošković Institute 
  • Order of Danica Hrvatska for science, outstanding contributions to science and its promotion in the Republic of Croatia and the world, 2014
  • European Life Science Award in the category Investigator of the Year, 2014
  • Chosen by the journal Cell as one of 40 scientists from around the world and working in diverse biological fields, "40 under 40", 2014
  • 2001-2002: NATO stipend, Danish Natural Science Research Council


  • PhD Program in Biophysics at the University of Split, Croatia
  • Molecular Cytogenetics at the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, guest lecturer
  • Biophysics of the Cell at the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, guest lecturer
  • Biophysics of the Cell Practical at the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb

Featured Publications

  • Vukušić, K., R. Buđa, A. Bosilj, A. Milas, N. Pavin, I.M. Tolić. (2017) Microtubule sliding within the bridging fiber pushes kinetochore fibers apart to segregate chromosomes. Dev Cell, 43(1): 11. Download PDF
  • Polak, B., P. Risteski, S. Lesjak, I.M. Tolić. (2017) PRC1-labeled microtubule bundles and kinetochore pairs show one-to-one association in metaphase. EMBO Rep, 18(2): 217. Download PDF
  • Kajtez, J., A. Solomatina, M. Novak, B. Polak, K. Vukušić, J. Rüdiger, G. Cojoc, A. Milas, I. Šumanovac Šestak, P. Risteski, F. Tavano, A.H. Klemm, E. Roscioli, J. Welburn, D. Cimini, M. Glunčić, N. Pavin, I.M. Tolić. (2016) Overlap microtubules link sister k-fibers and balance the forces on bioriented kinetochores. Nat. Commun. 7: 10298. Download PDF
  • Cojoc, G., E. Roscioli, L. Zhang, A. García-Ulloa, J.V. Shah, M.W. Bern, N. Pavin, D. Cimini, I.M. Tolić, and J. Gregan, Laser microsurgery reveals conserved viscoelastic behavior of the kinetochore. J Cell Biol, 212 (2016): 767. Download PDF
  • Chacon M.R., P. Delivani, I.M. Tolić. Meiotic nuclear oscillations are necessary to avoid excessive chromosome associations. Cell Rep 17 (2016): 1632. Download PDF
  • Coelho, M., S.J. Lade, S. Alberti, T. Gross, I.M. Tolić. (2014) Fusion of protein aggregates facilitates asymmetric damage segregation. PLOS Biol. 12(6): e1001886. Download PDF
  • Coelho, M., A. Dereli, A. Haese, S. Kühn, L. Malinovska, M.E. DeSantis, J. Shorter, S. Alberti, T. Gross, I.M. Tolić-Nørrelykke. (2013) Fission yeast does not age under favorable conditions, but does so after stress. Curr. Biol. 23: 1844. (Highlighted in Science Editors' Choice; Recommended by Faculty of 1000) Download PDF
  • Ananthanarayanan, V., M. Schattat, S.K. Vogel, A. Krull, N. Pavin, I.M. Tolić-Nørrelykke. (2013) Dynein motion switches from diffusive to directed upon cortical anchoring. Cell 153(7): 1526. Download PDF
  • Kalinina, I., A. Nandi, P. Delivani, M.R. Chacón, A.H. Klemm, D. Ramunno-Johnson, A. Krull, B. Lindner, N. Pavin, I.M. Tolić-Nørrelykke. (2013) Pivoting of microtubules around the spindle pole accelerates kinetochore capture. Nat. Cell Biol. 15(1): 82. Download PDF
  • Stiess, M., N. Maghelli, L.C. Kapitein, S. Gomis-Rüth, M. Wilsch-Bräuninger, C.C. Hoogenraad, I.M. Tolić-Nørrelykke, F. Bradke. (2010) Axon extension occurs independently of centrosomal microtubule nucleation. Science 327: 704. (Recommended by Faculty of 1000) Download PDF

Complete list of publications

  • Total number of papers in peer-reviewed journals: 75
  • Total number of citations: 4700 (from Google Scholar)
  • h-index: 31 (from Google Scholar)

Membership in professional associations / societies

  • Croatian Biophysical Society
  • Croatian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Croatian Microscopy Society


Scientific career:

  • since 2014: Senior Research Group Leader and Full Professor, Ruđer Bošković Institute, Zagreb
  • 2010 – 2014: Senior Research Group Leader (W2, equivalent to Associate Professor), Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden
  • 2005 – 2009: Research Group Leader (W1, equivalent to Assistant Professor), Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden
  • 2003 – 2004: Post-doctoral research with Prof. Francesco Pavone, LENS - European Laboratory for Non-Linear Spectroscopy, Florence, Italy
  • 2001 – 2002: Post-doctoral research with Prof. Kirstine Berg-Sørensen, Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark

Recent discoveries:

  • By combining laser ablation, photoactivation, and theory, we have shown that sliding apart of microtubules within the bridging fiber pushes the attached kinetochore fibers and their kinetochores apart, being able to segregate chromosomes independently of the spindle pole  (Vukušić, Buđa et al., Dev Cell 2017). 
  • We have discovered that non-kinetochore microtubules, which we term bridging fibers, balance the tension between sister kinetochores by bridging sister k-fibers (Kajtez, Solomatina, Novak et al., Nat Commun 2016). This study challenges the paradigm that the tension on kinetochores is generated by molecular events occurring only at the ends of the k-fibers.
  • By establishing single-molecule observation and quantification of the motor protein dynein in living cells, we have discovered a new mechanism for how dynein targets cortical anchor sites, by diffusing along the microtubule (Ananthanarayanan et al., Cell 2013).
  • We have discovered a new mechanism of kinetochore capture during mitosis, based on the pivoting motion of microtubules around the spindle pole (Kalinina et al., Nat. Cell Biol. 2013). This concept challenges the current ‘search-and-capture’ paradigm introduced in the 1980s, based on direct growth of microtubules towards kinetochores.
  • We have demonstrated that fission yeast does not undergo replicative aging, which challenges the dogma that all organisms, including microorganisms, are susceptible to aging (Coelho et al., Curr. Biol. 2013; Coelho et al., PLOS Biol. 2014).


  • 7 PhD, 4 Master and 8 Diploma theses completed.
  • PhD students have published first-author papers in top journals (Cell, Nature Cell Biology, Developmental Cell, PLoS Biology, Current Biology, EMBO Reports). Current positions of the former PhD students are the following: Vaishnavi Ananthanarayanan is an assistant professor at the Indian Institute of Science; Sven Vogel is a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry; Miguel Coelho is a HFSP Long-term Fellow at Harvard; Iana Kalinina is a postdoc at the University of Freiburg; Davide Accardi is the leader of the Bioimaging Platform at Champalimaud Foundation in Lisbon; Manuel Neetz is a Patent Professional at Siemens.

Invited talks:

  • More than 70 invited talks at conferences and workshops including:
    Biophysical Society 62nd Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA, 2018
    Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Motile and Contractile Systems, New London, NH, USA, 2017
    EMBO Conference on Meiosis, Oxford, UK, 2015
    12th Multinational Congress on Microscopy, Eger, Hungary, 2015 (plenary talk)
    10th European Biophysics Congress EBSA, Dresden, Germany, 2015 (plenary talk)
    The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 2014
    Biophysical Society 56th Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, USA, 2012
    Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Plant and Microbial Cytoskeleton, Andover, NH, USA, 2012
  • More than 40 invited seminars including:
    Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany, 2018
    University of Geneva, Switzerland, 2018
    Institut Curie, Paris, France, 2018
    ETH Zürich, Switzerland, 2015
    Engineering and Physical Biology Symposium, Harvard, Cambridge, MA, USA, 2012
    California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA, 2010

Organization of scientific meetings:

  • Co-organizer of the conference Mitotic spindle: From living and synthetic systems to theory, Split, Croatia, 2019
  • Member of the Program Committee for the Optical Manipulation and its Applications Topical Meeting, OSA Congress on Optics in the Life Sciences, Tucson, AZ, USA, 2019 
  • Co-chair at the 2nd ASCB│EMBO Meeting, San Diego, CA, USA, 2018
  • Co-chair at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society, San Francisco, CA, USA, 2018
  • Organizer of the EMBO Conference on Meiosis, Hvar, Croatia, 2017
  • Co-organizer of ELMI - 17th European Light Microscopy Initiative meeting, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 2017
  • Member of the Program Committee for the 9th International Fission Yeast Meeting, Banff, Alberta, Canada, 2017
  • Member of the International Advisory Committee for the conference From Solid State to Biophysics VIII, Cavtat, Croatia, 2016
  • Member of the Organizing Committee for the EMBO Conference on Meiosis, Oxford, UK, 2015
  • Chairperson of the symposium Molecular Motors at the 10th European Biophysics Congress, EBSA 2015, Dresden, Germany, 2015
  • Member of the Program Committee for the EMBO Conference Pombe 2013, 7th International Fission Yeast Meeting, London, UK, 2013
  • Member of the Program Committee for the 11th and 12th Greta Pifat Mrzljak International School of Biophysics, Primošten, Croatia, 2012 and 2014

Ad hoc reviewer:

  • Journals: Nature, Nature Cell Biology, eLife, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Current Biology, Molecular Biology of the Cell, EMBO Journal, Optics Express, Physical Biology, Journal of Microscopy, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
  • Funding agencies: German Research Foundation (DFG), Human Frontier Science Program, Swiss National Science Foundation, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

Editorial activities:

Public outreach and media coverage:

  • Hosted the President of the European Research Council (ERC), Prof Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, in the lab in March 2018
  • Hosted the President of the Republic of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, in the lab in March 2017
  • Speech to the European Parliament in Brussels, June 2015
  • Guest in Croatian TV shows Treći element, Društvena mreža, and Među nama; interviews for TV shows Labirint, Znanstveni krugovi, and Dobro jutro, Hrvatska; numerous short interviews for TV news on Croatian Radiotelevision 1, Nova TV and RTL
  • Interviews on the radio: BBC World Service, Croatian Radio International Channel "The Voice of Croatia", Croatian Radio 3, Radio Sljeme, Radio Yammat
  • Interviews in newspapers and magazines: NASA's Astrobiology Journal (USA); Bild (Germany); Science et Vie (France); Croatia Airlines Inflight Magazine, Jutarnji list, Večernji list, Gloria, Novi List, Slobodna Dalmacija, 24 sata, Tehnopolis, Supermila (Croatia)
  • 5 popular science lectures
  • Chosen as one of the "Stars of 2015" by Gloria
  • Chosen as one of "The Most Stylish Scientists" by Future-ish, 2013-2015 

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