Ivana Vrhovac Madunić

Molecular Toxicology Unit

PhD, BSc in Molecular Biology / Research Associate

Place and date of birth

Zagreb, 12 May 1984


  • 2003-2009 Molecular Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia. Diploma thesis: “Loss of Heterozigosity of Tumor Suppressor Genes in Patients with Testicular Cancer”. Supervisor: Reno Hrašćan, PhD
  • 2011-2015 PhD in Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Croatia PhD thesis: “Expression of Sodium-Glucose Cotransporter Sglt1 (Slc5a1) in Murine Organs”. Supervisor: Davorka Breljak, PhD

Work Experience

  • 1 Nov 2009-1 Apr 2010 Volunteer at Ruder Boskovic Institute, Laboratory for molecular and cellular biology (Group Leader: Ivica Rubelj, PhD), Zagreb, Croatia
  • 1 Dec 2010-30 Apr 2015 PhD student/assistant, Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health, Molecular Toxicology Unit (Group Leader: Ivan Sabolić, PhD; Supervisor: Davorka Breljak, PhD), Zagreb, Croatia
  • 1 May 2015-present Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health, Molecular Toxicology Unit (Group Leader: Davorka Breljak, PhD), Zagreb, Croatia


  • 2014-2019 Aging-Related Expression of Membrane Transporters in Rat (AGEMETAR), Croatian Science Foundation, Project Leader: Ivan Sabolic, PhD; from 1.10.2015. Project Leader: Davorka Breljak, PhD
  • 2007-2014 Mammalian Renal Transporters: Gender Differences and Effects of Toxic Metals, Project # 0222148-2146, Ministry of Science, Education and Sport, Republic of Croatia, Project Leader: Ivan Sabolic, PhD

Fields of interest

  • Scientific research in the fields of experimental biomedicine and (patho) physiology – Membrane transporters of sodium and glucose (SGLT1, SGLT2, SGLT3), organic anion (NaDC3, OAT1-3, SAT-1, CFEX)) and water channel (AQP) in different organs of experimental animals (mice, rats) and humans – studying sex and species differences in the expression, their regulation by sex hormones at the level of mRNA and protein.
  • Studying mechanism of aging ie. impact of aging on the activity/expression of various membrane transporters in the liver and kidneys. The emphasis is on insufficiently explored membrane transporters of organic and inorganic substances that play a key role in the interaction of drugs and drug resistance.


  • Discovering new cellular localizations of membrane transporters of sodium and glucose (SGLT1, SGLT2, SGLT3) and understanding their regulation in type 2 diabetes and other diseases (eg, cancer).
  • Studying the effects of a new generation of anti-diabetic drugs (SGLT inhibitors) on the expression and function of SGLT1, SGLT2 and SGLT3 in different organs/tissue


  • Oncology, mutagenesis and carcinogenesis
  • The effects of natural and synthetic compounds on tumor and non-tumor cells and organs


  • Methods of molecular and cell biology: extraction of DNA and RNA, RT-PCR, standard PCR, real-time PCR, SDS-PAGE, Western blotting, cell culture, light and fluorescent microscopy (immunohistochemistry)


  • Hermann Koepsell, PhD, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Würzburg (Germany)
  • Mirko Hadžija, PhD and Marijana Popovic-Hadžija, PhD, Ruder Boskovic Institute in Zagreb, Croatia

Additional training


  • 2010 Methodological courses in biology and medicine: DNA and RNA, Ruder Boskovic Institute, Zagreb, Croatia
  • 2010 Methodological courses in biology and medicine: Cells and Proteins, Ruder Boskovic Institute, Zagreb, Croatia
  • 2011 Biochemistry education workshop (FEBS), Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • 2013 Fundamentals of designing and communicating scientific research (UMNA), Zagreb, Croatia
  • 2014 Molecular Modelling, CACR, Ruder Boskovic Institute, Zagreb, Croatia InnoMol Proteomics, Ruder Boskovic Institute, Zagreb, Croatia InnoMol Bioimaging, Ruder Bosković Institute, Zagreb, Croatia


  • 2006 Rector’s award by University of Zagreb, Croatia
  • 2007 Award “Student of the year” by European Federation of Food Science and Technology (EFFoST) for scientific research work, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 2012 Grant by Federation of the European Biochemical Societies (FEBS), Opatija, Hrvatska
  • 2014 Grant by World Sciences Forum for Young Researchers, Baku, Azerbaijan
  • 2014 Travel Grant Award by The International Society for Ethnopharmacology (ISE), Puerto Varas, Chile
  • 2016 Grant by International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB), Vancouver, Canada
  • 2016 Annual Award to Young Scientists by the Croatian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (HDBMB) for 2015
  • 2018 The “Željko Trgovčević” Award for 2017 from the Croatian Genetic Society

Select Publications

  1. Vrhovac Madunić, Ivana; Breljak, Davorka; Karaica, Dean; Koepsell, Hermann; Sabolić, Ivan. Expression profiling and immunolocalization of Na+-D-glucose-cotransporter 1 in mice employing knockout mice as specificity control indicate novel locations and differences between mice and rats. Pflügers Archiv-European Journal of Physiology. 2017 Aug 26. doi: 10.1007/s00424-017-2056-1. Link: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00424-017-2056-1
  2. Sharma, Piyush; Khairnar, Vishal; Vrhovac Madunić, Ivana; Singh, Yogesh; Pandyra, Aleksandra; Salker, Madhuri S.; Koepsell, Hermann; Sabolić, Ivan; Lang, Florian; Lang, Philipp A.; Lang, Karl S. SGLT1 Deficiency Turns Listeria Infection into a Lethal Disease in Mice. Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry. 42 (2017), 4; 1358-1365. Link: https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/479197
  3. Salker, Madhuri S.; Singh, Yogesh; Zeng, Ni; Chen, Hong; Zhang, Shaqiu; Umbach, Tanja T.; Fakhri, Hajar; Kohlhofer, Ursula; Quintanilla-Martinez, Leticia; Durairaj, Ruban R. Peter; Barros, Flavio S.V.; Vrljicak, Pavle; Ott, Sascha; Brucker, Sara Y.; Wallwiener, Diethelm; Vrhovac Madunić, Ivana; Breljak, Davorka; Sabolić, Ivan; Koepsell, Hermann; Brosens, Jan J.; Lang, Florian. Loss of Endometrial Sodium Glucose Cotransporter SGLT1 is Detrimental to Embryo Survival and Fetal Growth in Pregnancy. Scientific reports 7 (2017) 12612 (2017). Link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-11674-3
  4. Breljak, Davorka; Ljubojević, Marija; Hagos, Yohannes; Micek, Vedran; Balen Eror, Daniela; Vrhovac Madunić, Ivana; Brzica, Hrvoje; Karaica, Dean; Radovic, Nikola; Kraus, Ognjen; Naohiko, Anzai; Koepsell, Hermann; Burckhardt, Gerhard; Burckhardt, Birgitta Christina; Sabolić, Ivan. Distribution of the organic anion transporters NaDC3 and OAT1-3 along the human nephron. American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology. 311 (2016), 1; F227-F238
  5. Vrhovac, Ivana; Balen Eror, Daniela; Klessen, Dirk; Burger, Christa; Breljak, Davorka; Kraus, Ognjen; Radović, Nikola; Jadrijević, Stipe; Aleksić, Ivan; Walles, Thorsten; Sauvant, Christoph; Sabolić, Ivan; Koepsell, Hermann. Localizations of Na+-D-glucose cotransporters SGLT1 and SGLT2 in human kidney and of SGLT1 in human small intestine, liver, lung, and heart. Pflügers Archiv-European Journal of Physiology. 467 (2015), 9; 1881-1898
  6. Jurowich, Christian Ferdinand; Otto, Christoph; Rikkala, Prashanth Reddy; Wagner, Nicole; Vrhovac, Ivana; Sabolić, Ivan; Germer, Christoph-Thomas; Koepsell, Hermann. Ileal Interposition in Rats with Experimental Type 2 Like Diabetes Improves Glycemic Control Independently of Glucose Absorption. Journal of Diabetes Research. (2015); 490365-1-490365-14
  7. Breljak, Davorka; Brzica, Hrvoje; Vrhovac, Ivana; Micek, Vedran; Karaica, Dean; Ljubojević, Marija; Sekovanić, Ankica; Jurasović, Jasna; Rašić, Dubravka; Peraica, Maja; Lovrić, Mila; Schnedler, Nina; Henjakovic, Maja; Wegner, Waja; Burckhardt, Gerhard; Burckhardt, Birgitta C.; Sabolić, Ivan. In female rats, ethylene glycol treatment elevates protein expression of hepatic and renal oxalate transporter sat-1 (Slc26a1) without inducing hyperoxaluria. Croatian medical journal. 56 (2015); 447-459
  8. Herak-Kramberger, Carol Mirna; Breljak, Davorka; Ljubojević, Marija; Matokanović, Mirela; Lovrić, Mila; Rogić, Dunja; Brzica, Hrvoje; Vrhovac, Ivana; Karaica, Dean; Micek, Vedran; Ivković Dupor, Jana; Brown, Dennis; Sabolić, Ivan. Sex-dependent expression of water channel AQP1 along the rat nephron. American journal of physiology-Renal physiology. 308 (2015), 8; F809-F821
  9. Sabolić, Ivan; Vrhovac, Ivana; Balen Eror, Daniela; Gerasimova, Maria; Rose, Michael; Breljak, Davorka; Ljubojević, Marija; Brzica, Hrvoje; Sebastiani, Anne; Thal, Serge C; Sauvant, Cristoph; Kipp, Helmut; Vallon, Volker; Koepsel, Hermann. Expression of Na+-D-glucose cotransporter SGLT2 in rodents is kidney-specific and exhibits sex and species differences. American journal of physiology-Cell physiology. 302 (2012), 8; C1174-C1188


  • Croatian Physiological Society
  • Croatian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Croatian Society of Genetics
  • Croatian Association for Cancer Research
  • International Society for Ethnopharmacology (ISE)



  • 2008 Member of technical support in organization of 38th international conference: European Environmental Mutagen Society (EEMS), Cavtat, Croatia
  • 2011-2013 Representative of Assistants in Scientific Council at Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health, Zagreb, Croatia
  • 2014-present Student representative in the board of The International Society for Ethnopharmacology (ISE)
  • 2015-present Member of the Science and Society Committee of the Croatian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (HDBMB)


  • English
  • Spanish
  • German

List of publications