Prof. Dr. Vlada Urlacher



department: Dept. of Chemistry, Institute of Biochemistry II


Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Department of Chemistry, Institute of Biochemistry II: Biocatalysis and Biotransformation

Research interests

Our research focuses on the optimization of biocatalysts in view to their technical application. Applications of enzymes in biotransformation require high enzyme expression levels, fast substrate conversion rates, high enzyme selectivity as well as system stability in order to reach a high total turnover.

The actual research projects involved e.g. identification, cloning and high-level production of target enzymes in recombinant hosts (E. coli, P. pastoris, S. cerevisiae), elucidation of the molecular mechanisms, which mediate activity and selectivity of enzymes, and improving activity, selectivity and stability of enzymes by protein engineering. Frequently, the high selectivity of an enzyme can be achieved only at the expense of its activity; and conversely, high enzyme activity is often accompanied by low stability. This means that our optimization strategies for enzymes target diverse areas such as the extension of substrate spectra, enzyme specificity, but also cofactor recycling and enhancement of thermal and process stability which often can be achieved by immobilization of enzymes.

The construction of highly active and stable enzymes mutants, or the discovery of new enzymes alone cannot solve all problems associated with the development of biotechnological processes. Therefore another indispensible part of our research is establishing concepts for biocatalytic processes. Here isolated enzymes as well as whole cell catalysts combining several enzymes are applied. As a consequence, our paramount interest is to find out the optimal combination of enzyme performance and reaction conditions by using e.g. aqueous or organic-aqueous reactions systems that render biocatalysis most efficient.

For more information, visit the website of Biochemistry II.

Students (co-)supervised

Sebastian Schulz (alumnus)
Franca Tolksdorf (alumna)
Katharina Neufeld (alumna)
Sanel Suljic (alumnus)