What is MetRaZymes?

The pharmaceutical, chemical and polymer industries are cornerstones of Europe’s economy. A key element for their transition to more sustainable processes and to innovative new compounds is biocatalysis. Of particular interest are metallo-enzymes, i.e. proteins that host a metal cofactor. They catalyze a multitude of redox and radical reactions. To access reactions that are unknown in nature, artificial metallo-enzymes can be created. They combine the new-to-nature catalytic activity of metal complexes with the selectivity-inducing environment of the active protein site. To develop novel biocatalysts, a highly interdisciplinary skill set is needed. Metal-containing radical enzymes creates a PhD school across leading European universities that trains the next generation of scientists capable of tackling the design, development and implementation of novel enzymatic reactions in a holistic approach. It brings together computational bioscientists, bioinorganic and polymer chemists, and bioprocess engineers. Using artificial and repurposed metalloenzymes as the focal point, the doctoral candidates (DCs) develop novel biocatalysts for radical reactions of high synthetic value, such as the late stage modification of pharmaceutical intermediates or the synthesis of polymers from renewable monomers. To train the DCs in the needs of industrial biotechnology, the consortium includes eight of Europe´s leading pharmaceutical, chemical and enzymology companies. The DCs benefit from a vast transferable skills training program delivered by five training partners. Highlights include a Nature Masterclass and Wikipedia workshop. Communication partners such as Wikimedia and the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre act as multiplicators for the communication of results. Moreover, the DCs work with artists that use biology as their way of expression to create an ARTzymes exhibition that foster the DCs’ creativity and result in a unique form of science dialogue with the general public.