Simon Elsässer will speak at the Scheele symposium


Get a glimpse of the research that you will get the opportunity to learn more about at the Scheele symposium! The Scheele laureate Professor Peter G. Schultz is one of the pioneers in the field of chemical and synthetic biology and during the summer we will introduce the guest speakers who are all active in related fields. One of them is Associate Professor Simon Elsässer from Karolinska Institutet:

  • How does your research relate to Prof. Shultz’s scientific work?

I consider myself a scientific ’grandchild’ of Peter Schultz’ work pioneering work in synthetic biology. Around the turn of the millenium, his lab was the epicenter of this emerging field, from which dozens of postdocs started their independent trajectories that today fertilize many fields of biology and chemistry.

  • Can you explain the potential applications and impact of your research for drug discovery/drug development ?

My research in synthetic biology, particularly in mammalian cells, focuses on equipping proteins with new chemical functionalities by means of introducing ’non-natural’ building blocks at specific sites. This can have diverse applications, from developing fluorescence-based drug screens to engineering protein-small molecule conjugates, such as drug conjugates.

  • How has your research contributed for the benefit of patients ?

I would love to see some of my research results translating to new treatments, drugs or diagnostic tests, but individual research contributions are just small pieces in a huge puzzel that it takes to solve to  develope a new drug.

  • What are some recent breakthroughs or discoveries that will advance in your field?

I am amazed how in the past decades the field has been able to move from small synthetic biology manipulations of existing organisms to essentially completely synthetic genomes, in particular driven by my postdoc supervisor and academic ’child’ of Peter Schultz, Jason Chin at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge UK.

  • What advice would you give to aspiring researchers interested in pursuing a career in chemical biology, and how can they contribute?

Don’t confine your goals to the limits of what seems possible today – Synthetic Biology is one field that like no other has shown that the impossible is actually possible, by persistence and and creativity to overcome technological barriers.