New tenure track: understanding and engineering microbial metabolism for health and sustainability

On 1 March, Lennart Schada von Borzyskowski will start on a tenure track position at the Institute of Biology Leiden (IBL). With a focus on the natural and synthetic biochemistry of environmental bacteria, he wants to apply their features to health and sustainability issues.

Lennart Schada von Borzyskowski comes from the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, Germany. There he worked as a postdoctoral fellow on the metabolism of – somewhat counter-intuitively – marine bacteria. Through understanding the metabolism of these bacteria, he wanted to improve Cyanobacteria and plants: certain enzymes in marine bacteria act as a shortcut in plant metabolism to make them grow more efficiently. The ultimate goal is to apply this principle in crop plants to increase their yield.

Health and sustainability issues

At the IBL, Schada von Borzyskowski will continue to focus on marine bacteria and other environmental microorganisms. By learning more about how these bacteria interact with other organisms, he wants to apply their features to health and sustainability issues, such as the biodegradation of environmental pollutants or the prevention of harmful algal blooms. Furthermore, he wants to develop a so-called ‘chassis’ from a marine microorganism that he can instruct to produce antibiotics or other valuable compounds. Schada von Borzyskowski hopes that in the coming years his work will contribute a strong sustainability component to IBL’s leading principle ‘Harnessing biodiversity for health’.

City of discoveries

The new tenure tracker is looking forward to collaborating with established scientists at the IBL and with other institutes at Leiden University. He already envisions synergies with other research executed at the IBL, for instance with the Horizon 2020 MARBLES project on marine microbial consortia and their bioactive molecules, which is coordinated by Gilles van Wezel. Lennart Schada von Borzyskowski: ‘I am eager to see if Leiden’s motto ‘City of discoveries’ comes true for my research, as well as for me personally.’

Header image: Helgoland, one of the locations where Lennart Schada von Borzyskowski collected marine bacteria samples (by: Lennart Schada von Borzyskowski).

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