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ERC Consolidator Grant for Prof. Mayer

23 November 2023
Clemens Mayer
Clemens Mayer

Prof. Clemens Mayer has been awarded a Consolidator Grant by the European Research Council for his ContiZymes project. This will allow him to develop a series of synthetic biology strategies and protein engineering techniques to establish a platform for continuous directed evolution with minor human intervention.

Evolution is an all-purpose problem solver that enzyme engineers mimic in the laboratory to tailor properties and activities of biocatalysts for chemical syntheses. But such directed evolution strategies are notoriously labor- and time-intensive, as it manually stages the necessary mutation, selection, and amplification cycles. With his project, Clemens Mayer will establish a continuous evolution approach that can achieve these steps within a replicating organism, making it possible to autonomously engineer efficient enzymes in a matter of days rather than months or years.

Not only will this project accelerate the search for enzymes that can provide critical building blocks for the pharmaceutical industries (e.g. unnatural amino acids), but performing continuous evolution along long and many evolutionary trajectories will also elucidate the sequence-structure-function relationships of these biocatalysts. The data generated in the process will enable the researchers to train and improve machine-learning algorithms for the on-demand prediction of efficient enzymes, whose potential as sustainable alternatives to chemical syntheses has remained unexploited.

Last modified:23 November 2023 12.41 p.m.

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