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Department of Biochemistry


Paul Zurek


I studied Biosciences at the University of Münster and finished with a M.Sc. in 2017. In my undergrad I spent an Erasmus semester in Tours, France, where I learned about my fondness for international cooperation. During my bachelor’s thesis in the lab of Alexander Steinbüchel I combined a metabolic engineering approach to increase fatty acid synthesis with the comparative assessment of different acyltransferases. This resulted in the successful production of fatty acid ethyl esters, so called micro diesel, in E. coli.
During my master’s degree I spent 6 months with Roche in the development of monoclonal antibodies with a single B-cell screening and cultivation technology. I finished my M.Sc. with a thesis in the lab of Joachim Jose, where I engineered whole-cell biocatalysts, created by auto-transporter mediated bacterial cell surface display, to accelerate the degradation of cellulose.

Training and Transferable Skills:

  • Flow cytometry
  • Mammalian cell culture
  • Molecular biology (cloning, PCR, generation of libraries)
  • Biochemistry (enzymology, protein purification and characterization)
  • Microbiology (bacterial cell surface display)
  • Microfluidics (HT droplet screening)

Research Projects:
I am doing my PhD in collaboration between the Hollfelder group at the University of Cambridge and Johnson Matthey. My research project addresses the discovery and engineering of amine dehydrogenases with broad substrate acceptance. Amine dehydrogenases (AmDHs) catalyse the direct asymmetric reductive amination of ketones, a reaction which is especially desirable for the synthesis of chiral amines in the pharmaceutical industry. I plan to tackle the main challenges of current AmDHs, limited substrate acceptance and modest catalytic efficiency, with directed evolution and high-throughput microfluidic droplet screening approaches.


Röttig A., Zurek P.J., Steinbüchel A. Assessment of bacterial acyltransferases for an efficient lipid production in metabolically engineered strains of E. coli. Metabolic engineering 32 (2015): 195-206. Read online