Sergey B. Zotchev

Work Experience

• From September 2015: Professor, Department of Pharmacognosy, University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria).

• October 2005 – August 2015: Professor, Department of Biotechnology, NTNU (Trondheim, Norway).

• August 2011 – June 2012: Visiting Professor, Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center, Joint Bioenergy Institute, UC Berkeley (Emeryville, USA).

• May 2001- September 2005: Associate Professor, Department of Biotechnology, NTNU (Trondheim, Norway).

• September 1996 – April 2001: Research scientist, Department of Biotechnology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology – NTNU, (Trondheim, Norway).

• September 1995 – August 1996: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Microbiology and Tumor Biology Center, Karolinska Institute (Stockholm, Sweden).

• June 1993 – August 1995: Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin (Madison, USA).

• September 1991 – May 1993: Alexander von Humboldt Postdoc Fellow at the Department of Molecular Genetics, Osnabrück University (Osnabrück, Germany).

• August 1985 – August 1991: Junior Scientist, Institute of Genetics and Selection of Industrial Microorganisms (Moscow, Russia).


Zotchev Lab, Dept. of Pharmacognosy, University of Vienna

New drugs from microbes via bioprospecting, metabolic engineering, and synthetic biology

Natural products synthesized by a variety of micro-organisms are chemically very diverse, and represent a rich source for drug discovery. Zotchev Lab investigates marine bacteria for production of novel bioactive compounds, and has initiated a program on isolation of endophytic micro-organisms from medicinal plants, which can become a treasure trove for drug discovery.

In many cases a natural product might not possess drug-like properties required for their successful application in medicine. Some of these properties may be improved by medicinal chemistry through synthesis of natural product analogues. However, many microbial natural products are very complex, and specific chemical modifications are difficult or impossible to achieve. The latter problem may be circumvented by the use of genetic engineering targeting specific enzymes in biosynthetic pathways, leading to production of a new analogue with predicted structural features. Zotchev Lab has successfully engineered biosynthesis of an antifungal antibiotic nystatin, generating novel analogue with superior pharmacological properties (currently in pre-clinical being development by a biotech company Biosergen AS).

Metabolic engineering and synthetic biology are relatively new trends in biotechnology, which utilize knowledge on organism’s biology in order to either improve certain traits (e.g. to increase production of a desired product, such as antibiotic), or to create completely new-to-nature biological systems. Zotchev Lab is applying metabolic engineering and synthetic biology principles to discover new bioactive compounds through activation of silent biosynthetic genes, their heterologous expression, and generation of microbes specially designed for production of certain compounds.