ESR1 – Marc Scherer

Marc Scherer

Host: Weizmann Institute, Israel
Supervisors: Prof. Sarel Fleishman (WI), Olga Khersonsky (WI)

ESR 1: Design of nanobodies with tunable target affinities

“Our work as scientists is directed towards future innovations and technologies. By doing so, we have the chance to enable a better future for all living being on this planet.

The Fleishman lab develops reliable protein design algorithms that allow tuning of central properties of proteins such as thermostability, expressibility, and affinities towards a target molecule. In this context, I am applying design calculations to highly dynamic proteins as small molecule binders which are of great relevance for the construction of biosensors in general. The main goal is to deepen our knowledge about the interplay of structure, function, and dynamics of proteins to speed up the process of biosensor optimization.

We will implement these strategies to design binders towards small molecules and peptides of interest to biosensor design. 1) Design a repertoire based on the natural NTF2-fold protein from which steroid binders can be isolated via FACS sorting. The repertoire will be screened against corticosteroid hormones that are critical for measuring stress-related conditions. 2) Design a repertoire based on naturally occurring peptide binders, such as the PDZ domain. This repertoire will enable isolating binders of peptides and proteins.

I was born in a small town in the north of Bavaria, Germany, called Lichtenfels. My personal interest in trying to help solving the most urgent problems of humanity as finding cure for devastating diseases or solutions to avoid the climate crisis motivated me to follow my scientific path. If I am not working on the lab bench, I am enjoying my free time with playing football and ultimate frisbee or mixing electronic music.

Since I  started studying biochemistry at the University of Wuerzburg, Germany, I was fascinated by the complexity and beauty of protein structures and function. Over the years of my studies in Wuerzburg and during an internship at Imperial College London, I had the chance to observe this complexity and beauty of proteins from a variety of perspectives ranging from biomedical sciences to biophyics, from metabolic engineering to bioinformatics. I am strongly motivated to use this scientific background to improve the function of proteins for sustainable biotechnology and biosensor applications by computational design.