Within this project (P16), we aim at the targeted discovery of functional metabolites encoded by intestinal bacteria. Together with the Zeller group (EMBL, Heidelberg), we bioinformatically explore the genetic potential of gut bacteria to produce bioactive small molecules putatively involved in the development of colorectal cancer and/or inflammatory bowel disease. Target biosynthetic gene clusters are intercepted by stat-of-the-art tools of synthetic biology, encoded small molecules produced in recombinant host systems, their structures elucidated using MS and NMR methods, and their biological functions evaluated together with the Sieber group (TU Munich) and many partners across the CRC using a diverse range of in vitro and in vivo assay systems. The project thus provides excellent training in modern biomolecular and analytical techniques, additional expertise in evaluating the biological impact of small molecules, and will lead to a better understanding of the functional relevance of small molecules produced by the gut microbiota. Results provided during this project have the potential to translate into innovate new approaches to prevent and/or treat severe diseases associated with the human intestinal system.
Candidates hold a Master degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology or related areas. They are open minded, active and have a good command of the English language (oral and written).