The Fürst Lab
at the University of Groningen

Combining Computational Protein Design with Directed Evolution and High-Throughput Screens.


Massive Sequence-Function Data Sets to accelerate Protein Engineering and Design.


Get in touch Learn more about our research

<div style="background-color:rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.7); padding:55px"><small>The</small><strong> Fürst Lab</strong><br><small><small><small>at the</small></small> University of Groningen</small></div>

Meet the team

Principal Investigator

PhD students

Master Students

Alumni

Research

of the group @ UG

In June 2022 our lab started at the University of Groningen. We are an interdisciplinary group that uses high-throughput protein engineering as a strategy for the development and improvement of computational protein design. Our research aims to address current limitations of computational design by tapping the power of cutting-edge high-throughput screening technologies for directed evolution. This approach not only allows the rapid generation of bespoke functional proteins, but also the massive data accumulation on design variant activities, which allows the improvement of computational pipelines and algorithms, and enables the development of efficient machine learning approaches for future designs.

The screening systems we intend to employ are particularly suitable for tailoring stability and binding affinities, but we aim to also tackle the challenging task of enzyme design. Resulting from a strong believe in the transformative potential of synthetic biology, we are particularly interested in enzymatic functions enabling the manipulation of genetics and bio-orthogonal chemistry. Accordingly, our research generates workflows in which computationally designed enzyme variants are screened for the biocatalytic production of modified cofactors, nucleotides, and DNA/RNA, intended to create commercially valuable molecules, and for synthetic biology and biomedical applications.

Maximilian JLJ Fürst

Maximilian JLJ Fürst

Assistant Professor of Computational Protein Design

University of Groningen

Biography

In June 2022, Maximilian Fürst (Max) started as an assistant professor at the University of Groningen (UG or RUG) in the Netherlands. His research group investigates the development and application of methods in computational protein design and high-throughput screening. Main targets of interest are enzymes that synthesize or modify cofactors, nucleotides, and nucleic acids, useful for applications in biotechnology, synthetic biology, and pharma.

Before that, Max did a postdoc with Phil Holliger at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, developing high-throughput enzymatic screens to engineer DNA polymerases for synthetic biology applications. He obtained his PhD at the UG in 2019 working on protein engineering of monooxygenases for biocatalysis. His thesis can be obtained here.

Download full resumé.

Interests
  • Computational Biology
  • Protein Design
  • High-throughput assays
  • Biocatalysis
  • Nucleic acid-modifying enzymes
Education
  • PhD in Biochemistry, 2019

    University of Groningen

  • MSc in Biology, 2013

    University of Munich

  • BSc in Biology, 2011

    University of Munich

Work with us

Working in NL, the UG, and the GBB

The group is embedded in the Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute (GBB), within the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Groningen (UG).

Groningen is a vibrant and international student city (1 in 4 of the ~240k inhabitants is a student, and 1 in 4 students is international) located ~2h northeast of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. The UG ranks among the world’s top institutes, and PhD students are very well supported: you enjoy student benefits (e.g. heavily subsidised access to the sport center and discounts), but usually are hired as staff, and consequently receive pension, child support, etc. PhD student salaries are among the highest in Europe, while Groningen is one of the Dutch student cities with the lowest costs of living. If you move to NL from abroad, you get a substantial income tax discount. English is ubiquitously spoken in the Netherlands, and everthying from the (very straightforward Dutch) bureaucracy, to shopping, to following courses can be done without the need to learn Dutch (although the UG pays free courses!) The Dutch are famously direct and open, and hierarchies are amazingly flat. Even more so than is usual in academia, PhDs and PostDocs in NL are typically given considerable freedom and independency and are encouraged to team work. The group is embedded in the Groningen Biomolecular Sciences & Biotechnology Institute (GBB) and with the Biochemistry/Biotechnology group, headed by Prof. Dr. M. Fraaije. From June 2024 on, we are located in the completely new Feringa building of the Zernike campus.


The institute offers excellent facilities for molecular biology, biochemistry, analytical chemistry, and scientific computing. Groningen welcomes you!

Projects

I will be hiring a computational PhD or postdoc in 2024..

In general, if you are able to fully provide your own funding and are interested in joining the lab, please get in touch.

Postdoc applications are always welcome if you are able to procure your own funding (a process I will obviously support, if possible). Check e.g. here or here for comprehensive lists of postdoc fellowships.

Students enrolled at the University of Groningen are welcome to informally reach out at any time to inquire about internships, bachelor, and master thesis in the group.

International students are also similarly welcome to get in touch. Please write an email with a CV and short motivation letter. Consider enquiring about student fellowships such as Erasmus+; otherwise, there may be other funding options, including support from the COZYME Cost action I’m part of.

Please feel free to informally reach out to me via e-mail, Twitter, or Linkedin for more information on the projects, or e-mail me your formal application documents (cover letter & CV).

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Computational Design

Computational Design

Using in silico biophysical modelling of biological macromolecules to predict desired protein characteristics.

High-Throughput Engineering

High-Throughput Engineering

Using cutting-edge screening technologies to sample vast numbers of (designed) protein variants.

Interdisciplinary Protein Design

Interdisciplinary Protein Design

The best of both worlds - design proteins on the computer and engineer them in the lab.

Contact

I am very easy to reach via mail and social media. You can also leave a message using this form.