About the lecture
Protein design is a challenging problem. We do not fully understand the rules of protein folding, and our knowledge of structure-function relationships in these macromolecules is at best incomplete. Nature has solved the problem of protein design through the mechanism of Darwinian evolution. From primitive precursors, recursive cycles of mutation, selection and amplification of molecules with favorable traits have given rise to all of the many thousands of gene products in every one of our cells.
An analogous process of natural selection can be profitably exploited in silico and in the laboratory on a human time scale to create, characterize and optimize artificial catalysts for tasks unimagined by Nature. Recent progress in combining computational and evolutionary approaches for enzyme design will be discussed, together with insights into enzyme function gained from studies of the engineered catalysts.
Prof. Donald Hilvert
ETH Zurich, Switzerland
- Donald Hilvert has been full Professor at the Organic Chemistry Laboratory of ETH Zurich since October 1, 1997.
- His group is developing general strategies for the design of proteins with customized catalytic properties. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the molecular origins of the catalytic powers of natural enzymes and their selectivity. Beyond that artificial biocatalysts may be useful in research, medicine and industry.
- Donald Hilvert was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in 1991-93, the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award of the ACS in 1992, and the Pfitzer Award in Enzyme Chemistry in 1994.
- Laboratory web: http://hilvertlab.ethz.ch/