How dead is dead?

5th conference on exploring the edge of bacterial life

Welcome note

It is our pleasure to invite you to the 5th biennial “How Dead is Dead?” conference, to be hosted at the Medical University of Vienna. This international conference series points to the difficulties of defining and proving the borders of bacterial life and death, and the consequences of these problems as regards its relevance for human and animal health but also for the functioning of technical and natural ecosystems.

Important questions arising are:

  • How can the status of viable but non-culturable (VBNC) cells, persisters, sleepers, etc. be described?
  • Are bacteria that cannot grow (anymore) on standard media dead and non-hazardous?
  • How can they be detected?
  • Which cellular mechanisms allow them to cope with a variety of stress conditions?
  • Which relevance do they have for health, technological processes and ecosystems?

In the last years this conference series has contributed to a larger awareness of these issues in a variety of research and applied fields like microbiology, medicine, veterinary medicine, ecology, food science, etc.

In this tradition the 5th biennial “How Dead is Dead?” conference shall:

  1. draw attention to this so far neglected aspects of bacterial life,
  2. offer the possibility of discussions on latest research results within the international scientific community and
  3. stimulate an intensive exchange of ideas with industrial partners, who offer innovative technical approaches for the detection of bacterial viability.

We are looking forward to welcoming you in Vienna!

Alexander Kirschner, Clemens Kittinger & Gernot Zarfel (Organizing Committee)


September 6–8, 2017


Universitätszahnklinik Wien
(University Clinic of Dentistry, Vienna)
Sensengasse 2a
1090 Vienna


Tram lines 37/38/40/41/42 from Schottentor - Station: Schwarzspanierstraße

Tram lines 40/41/42 from Währinger Straße Volksoper - Station: Sensengasse

Tram lines 37/38 from Döbling - Station: Sensengasse

By car: Chargeable BOE parking garage at Sensengasse 3
Please note that the entire 9th District is a short-stay parking zone.

Main topics

(among others..)

Viable but non culturable





Bacterial Ecology and Survival


Please register through the online registration process available at:

Registration Opening hours

Wednesday, September 615:00 – 20:30
Thursday, September 78:00 – 18:30
Friday, September 88:00 – 18:00

Conference dinner

The conference dinner will be held at typical Viennese ‚Heuriger‘ with authentic Austrian Food and relaxed atmosphere.

Congress Language

Please note that the official congress language is English.

Call for Abstracts

Participants are invited to submit abstracts online via: Abstract Submission

Submission of an abstract constitutes a commitment by the author to present at the congress, if accepted. Abstracts must meet the following requirements:

Structure:Title, Authors (first and surnames; underline the presenting author)
Department, Institution, City, State, Country
Length:Text with a minimum of 200 and a maximum of 300 words
Sessions:Water & Biofilms, Resuscitation, Ecology and Survival, Improvements in culture-independent detection, Regulation of sleep and death, Clinical Consequences of sleeping pathogens


Programme Overview

Session 1: 
"Water & Biofilms"

Session 2: 

Session 3: 
"Ecology and Survival"

Session 4: 
"Improvements in culture-independent detection"

Session 5: 
"Regulation of sleep and death"

Session 6: 
"Clinical Consequences of sleeping pathogens"

9 - 10Opening / Session 1Session 4
10 - 11Coffee BreakCoffee Break
11 - 12Session 1/2Session 5
12 - 13LunchLunch
13 - 14Poster SessionSession 5/6
14 - 15Poster SessionSession 6
15 - 16Coffee BreakCoffee Break
16 - 17Session 2/3Closing
17 - 18Session 3
18 - 19Welcome Lecture
19 - 20Welcome ReceptionConference Dinner
20 - 21Conference Dinner

Download the whole programm here:
Programm (Version 2017-05-02)


National organizing committee

Andrea Grisold 
(Medical University Graz, Austria)

Alexander Kirschner 
(Medical University Vienna, ICC Water & Health, Austria)

Clemens Kittinger 
(Medical University Graz, Austria)

Regina Sommer 
(Medical University Vienna, ICC Water & Health, Austria)

Birgit Willinger 
(Medical University Vienna, Austria)

Gernot Zarfel 
(Medical University Graz, Austria)

Scientific Committee / Invited Speakers

Bernd Bendinger 
(DVGW-TUHH at Hamburg, University of Technology, Germany)

Rita Colwell 
(University of Maryland, United States)

Holger Daims 
(University of Vienna, Austria)

Hans-Curt Flemming 
(University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany)

Frederik Hammes 
(Eawag, Switzerland)

Wolf-Dietrich Hardt 
(ETH Zürich, Switzerland)

Anette Moter 
(German Heart Center Berlin, Germany)

Andreas Nocker 
(IWW Water Centre, Germany)

Jim Oliver 
(University of North Carolina at Charlotte, United States)

Ulrich Szewzyk 
(Technical University Berlin, Germany)

Alexander Sturm 
(Massachusetts General Hospital, United States)

Sebastian Zaat 
(Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam)

Supporting Institutions

Interuniversitäres Kooperationszentrum für Wasser und Gesundheit (ICC Water & Health)

Vereinigung für Allgemeine und Angewandte Mikrobiologie (VAAM)

Vereinigung für Allgemeine und Angewandte Mikrobiologie (VAAM)

Universitätszahnklinik Wien

Medizinische Universität Graz, Institute for Hygiene

Österreichische Gesellschaft für Hygiene, Mikrobiologie und Präventivmedizin

Medizinische Universität Wien, Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology


Book through Vienna Hotels & Info
by phone: +43 1 24555 or online

Or feel free to search for another accommodation via Booking.com or another search engine.


Nina Strasser

ÖGHMP - Österreichische Gesellschaft für Hygiene,
Mikrobiologie und Präventivmedizin c/o MAW