Biochemist determined to challenge enzymes with new to Nature reactions: my duty in the SEM group is to make proteins from Pseudomonas putida (and others) to comply with our every whim.
The increasing demand of fluorochemicals is not matched by the inefficient and environmentally-harmful chemical approaches available for their production. My ambition is developing synthetic metabolism for the efficient biosynthesis of value-added fluorinated compounds as a green, bio-based alternative to chemical synthesis. Specifically, my goal is to design efficient pathways for C3, C4 and C5 fluorometabolites, which can be used as drug precursors in the pharma and chemical industry. I am also interested in the synthesis of new-to-Nature fluoropolymers and to exploit their unique physicochemical properties in material applications. Since there are no natural routes for these products, I am assembling novel pathways using biological parts from diverse sources — which also entails enzyme engineering to alter kinetic properties of individual enzymes. My project thus merges Biochemistry and Metabolic Engineering by covering the design and assembly of synthetic pathways in vitro and moving them in vivo by engineering P. putida strains capable of synthesizing the desired products. The outcome is expected to have a high impact on the fluorination field by providing novel biosynthetic strategies that can be easily adapted for the production of other value-added fluorochemicals.