The HIMS-Biocat group

Research at the HIMS-Biocat group aims to develop sustainable chemistry, with a focus on developing new biocatalytic systems for the sustainable manufacture of chemical products.

The Biocatalysis group (HIMS-Biocat), led by Prof. Dr. Francesco Mutti, is part of the Research Priority Area (RPA) in Sustainable Chemistry (SC) of the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands). Our aim is to develop new biocatalytic systems for the sustainable manufacture of chemical products (e.g. industrial biotechnology) as well as to address fundamental questions of biological chemistry. We believe that the advancement in the field of biocatalysis can meet the changing needs of industry in the next couple of decades and has a decisive impact on the future of the next generations on our planet. Part of our mission is also to train students in multi-disciplinary experimental and computational skills in chemistry, biology, engineering that are necessary to work in the filed biocatalysis.

The Research

HIMS-Biocat carries out cutting-edge research at the interphase between chemical and biological sciences. The research mainly focuses on:

Systems Biocatalysis and Synthetic Biochemistry such as the development of novel biocatalytic systems in vitro and in vivo for the sustainable and economically viable manufacturing of high value chemical products;

Identification and Biochemical Characterization of novel biocatalysts (i.e. enzymes);

Enzyme engineering of natural enzyme scaffolds aimed at either improving existing catalytic activities or creating unprecedented catalytic activities, or improving stability for industrial applications;

Creation of Artificial Enzymes by combination of organometallic catalysis and organocatalysis into biological scaffold.

The Group facilities

HIMS-Biocat labs are equipped with state-of-the-art instruments in: i) molecular biology, enzyme expression/purification/engineering (DNA and protein electrophoresis instruments, Gel Doc EZ Imaging System, PCR machines, high-throughput robotic system for screening, microtiter plate reader, sonicators, Nanodrop spectrophotometer, French press, incubators, orbital shakers, fermenter, ultra-centrifuges, cold room, FPLC Akta systems, multi-paths spectrophotometers with thermostat, lamina flow, glove box under anoxic conditions; ii) analytical equipment (various GC-FID and GC-MS systems with autosamplers and robotic trays, various HPLC systems with UV and RI detectors; iii) synthesis (fume hoods, rotary evaporators, Schlenk lines, large collection of chemicals). HIMS-Biocat is located at the Amsterdam Science Park and offers state-of-the art core facilities for chemical, biological and physical research (e.g. NMR, EPR, CD, IR, Raman, XPS, HR-MS for proteins, multi-dimensional LC-MS, autoclaves, calorimetry, electrochemical equipment, supercomputer centre, etc.)

The Group Leader

Francesco Mutti is native of Bergamo (Italy). He obtained a Master’s degree with summa cum laude in Industrial Chemistry (2004) and a PhD in Chemistry (2008) at the University of Milan for his work on the catalytic properties of laccases. From 2009 to 2012, he conducted research on chemo-enzymatic cascades and asymmetric enzymatic reductive amination as Post-Doc in the group of Prof. Wolfgang Kroutil, at the University of Graz (Austria). After a period as Post-Doc in the group of Prof. Nick Turner (2013-2014), Francesco became a Research Fellow at The University of Manchester (UK). Since July 2015, Francesco has moved to the University of Amsterdam (NL) to take a position as chair of the Biocatalysis group.

Francesco has been recipient of prestigious European grants (e.g. Marie Curie fellowship in 2009 and an ERC Starting Grant in 2014) as well as national Dutch grants (e.g. NWO-Echo and NWO-Sector Plan for Chemistry). He has published ca. 40 research papers on international peer-reviewed journals, several book chapters and 4 world patents. Among the others, Francesco was recipient of the “Italian Chemical Society Award 2005” (Italian Chemical Society), he is Honorary Research Fellow of The University of Manchester (2015) and he was included in the Top-100 list of Italian Scientists (under 40) in any field of Science (Social Sciences and Humanities, Physical Sciences and Engineering, Life Sciences)


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