Dr. Nadya Abbood receives dissertation prize for natural product research

The MPI-TM researcher is honored for her work on synthetic biology of bacterial enzyme complexes

In her doctoral thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, Nadya Abbood developed a process for modifying bacterial enzymes using synthetic biology methods to create natural products with new properties. Her work was honored by the Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (DECHEMA) with the Dissertation Award for Natural Product Research. In an explanatory video below, she describes her research.

Dr. Nadya Abbood was honored for her work on so-called non-ribosomal peptide synthases (NRPS). This modular enzyme system enables bacteria to produce a wide variety of natural substances that enable the microbes to cope with changing environmental conditions. Together with colleagues, Nadya Abbood developed a process to modify the bacterial enzymes using synthetic biology methods so that products with new properties can be manufactured in the laboratory. Enzyme fragments can be combined into new enzyme systems using synthetic "docking sites". This method, also known as "SYNZIP", has already been used to develop numerous new active substances that could form the basis for future medicines.

Explanatory video by Dr. Nadya Abbood

How do we engineer giant bacterial enzymes to develop new natural products as a basis for future drugs?

Explanatory video by Dr. Nadya Abbood

The award, endowed with 500 euros, was presented on February 16, 2024 at the Irsee Natural Products Conference, which Nadya Abbood attended together with colleagues and research group leader Prof. Dr. Helge Bode. The dissertation prize is already the second award for the scientist; she was awarded the Hendrik Wolff Prize in September 2023 (press release).

"The doctorate was an valuable and formative time for me, during which I enjoyed working in natural product research and was able to establish a methodology that simplifies the engineering of non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPS). My heartfelt thanks go to the sponsors of this prize, who in this way support me in my further scientific career, and of course to all those who have supported me along the way," said Nadya Abbood.

The scientist is currently planning a post-doctoral research stay in the USA. She plans to focus on the interactions of microorganisms within the human intestinal flora, also known as the microbiome.

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