Steffen Goletz, viceinstitutdirektør DTU Bioengineering. Foto: Mikal Schlosser.

Unique research environment in Innovation and Glycoengineering

Thursday 12 Sep 19

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Steffen Goletz
Deputy Head of Department
DTU Bioengineering
+45 93 51 05 07
A new professorship in Glycoengineering funded by The Novo Nordisk Foundation, opens up for new areas of research and innovation in Denmark.

DTU Bioengineering receives DKK 10 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation to establish a new professorship in the field of Glycoengineering for Deputy Head of Department Steffen Goletz. Within the 5 year period covered by the grant and beyond it is expected that his research will lead to the discovery of novel glycoengineered microbiome and glycoimmunology approaches.

“The Grant from NNF will empower DTU Bioengineering to fulfill its ambition to become a leading research hub within design of protein based applied technologies, treatment strategies and biopharmaceuticals. It will also significantly strengthen the departmental competences within innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Bjarke Bak Christensen Head of Department at DTU Bioengineering.

The overall role of the professorship is threefold: innovation and entrepreneurship for the department, research in glycoengineering, and potentially a study line with a focus on glycoengineering, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Steffen Goletz’ experience in innovation stems from more than 17 years as the scientific founder and CEO of four biotech companies. He matured the companies to over 250 employees with an external funding of over 200 mio. Euro and has held the positions of CEO and CSO, thereby gaining an insight into the research and an in-depth understanding of how to translate fundamental research from idea to products and technology platforms. 

Steffen Goletz will use this understanding as Deputy Head of DTU Bioengineering, where he has a special responsibility for science-based innovation and entrepreneurship, which involves generating, focusing, developing and maturing research activities towards applications and entrepreneurship with an aim to develop and facilitate startup activities.

The research of the professorship will be in the area of glycoengineering of biologics and cells, elucidating and making use of the potentials of sugar structures and moieties in various processes envolving the microbiome and the immune system, and designing novel biopharmaceuticals. Sugar structures and their regulation play a key role in many biological and disease mechanisms. Glycosylation is highly complex, species-, tissue- and differentiation specific.

Novel biopharmaceuticals

Steffen Goletz believes that glycosylation approaches and optimizing the sugar structures of molecules and cells has a high potential for a large series of applications for novel technologies, platform technologies as well as novel biopharmaceuticals.

“The research will not only bring synergies to our newly expanded research activities within protein science, but it will also bring new competences to our activities within cellular and cell factory engineering, immunology as well as microbiome research and biopharmaceutical design. In addition, it will expand the activities to microbiome-based anti-infectives and glycome based display systems,” says Steffen Goletz.

Steffen Goletz’ research and innovation expertise ranges from molecular protein- and glycoengineering, glycooptimization and humanization of biopharmaceuticals, antibody and protein engineering, over bioprocess technologies, glycoimmunology and cellular glycoengineering to human gut microbiota research and the development of gut bacteria-based nutraceuticals for specific immunological applications, as well as novel glycoengineered GMP manufacturing systems and GMP production, and clinical development.

Steffen Goletz estimates, that the glycoengineering of the microbiome and glycoimmunology are areas which will be unique for the danish research environment. He explains that in synergy with existing glycosylation research in Denmark, such as the Centre of Glycomics at University of Copenhagen and the CHO cell based glycoengineering production platform at the Novo Nordic Center for Biosustainability (DTU Biosustain), DTU Bioengineering will open new areas of research and innovation in glycobiology in Denmark.