The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability (DTU Biosustain)
Technical University of Denmark

Professor, Co-Principal Investigator of New Bioactive Compounds Section

DTU Biosustain
2800 Kgs. Lyngby

+45 24 89 61 32



Background and expertise of the representative

Tilmann Weber is Professor for Natural Products Genome Mining and Co-PI of the section “New Bioactive Compounds / Metabolic Engineering for Natural Products (Director/PI: Prof. Sang Yup Lee, KAIST, Korea) at DTU Biosustain. His main research interest is focused on deciphering the molecular pathways and engineering the biosynthesis of natural products by combining genetic, biochemical and bioinformatics methods. He is a pioneer in developing software for the automated genome mining and analysis of secondary metabolite biosynthetic pathways, such as CLUSEAN or antiSMASH, and the development and application of CRISPR-tools in actinomycetes. His group was able to firstly elucidate and engineer the biosynthetic pathways of the elfamycin family of antibiotics.

Tilmann Weber is author of 70 publications (h-index 27/Google Scholar), and frequently acting as reviewer for international journals, such as Chem. Biol., Cell Chem. Biol., Metab. Eng., Nat. Commun., Nat. Chem. Biol., or Nucl. Acids Res. He is member of the Editorial Board of Cell Chemical Biology, Scientific Reports, Metabolic Engineering, and Associate Editor for Synthetic and Systems Biotechnology.

2013, he was awarded with the “DECHEMA Young Investigator Price for Natural Product Research.”

In 2016, he received a Novo Nordisk Foundation Challenge Grants to coordinate a 6-year international project on integrating informatics and metabolic engineering for natural product discovery (http://www.iimena.org). Furthermore, Tilmann Weber is member of the newly established Center for Microbial Secondary Metabolites funded by the Danish National Research Foundation (http://www.cemist.dtu.dk/) at DTU.

Organisation profile

The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 5,800 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society, while our 11,000 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government, and public agencies.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability (http://www.biosustain.dtu.dk), DTU Biosustain, is an international research center of excellence at DTU developing next-generation cell factories and bioprocesses for sustainable production of high-value chemical compounds, as well as protein-based products. Since the founding of the center in 2011, CFB research groups were/are involved as coordinators in eight FP7/H2020 projects, two NNF Challenge Grant projects, and are participating as partners in five H2020 consortia, addressing different topics on the bio-based economy and the sustainable production of valuable products. DTU Biosustain’s activities are a balanced mix of basic and translational research, complemented by an emphasis on business development to facilitate commercialization of new cell factories and associated technologies. In its 7 years of existence, DTU Biosustain has already become one of the leading research centers in this field. Several world-renowned synthetic biologists are affiliated with the center.

In their newly built facilities, researchers of the center apply metabolic modelling and genome engineering in order to make cells produce a compound of interest on a large scale within an industrial environment. Furthermore, intense research is being conducted to identify and broaden the spectrum of chemicals and therapeutic agents that can be produced biologically. The methods used include experimental research, bioinformatics, and pre-testing for industrial production. The centre has developed a unique iLoop (Iterative Cell Factory Development Loop) concept to scale up promising technologies from the lab scale to the scale of early production. In 2013, DTU Biosustain was awarded an extension grant from the NNF to strengthen its international profile. With this grant a “New Bioactive Compound” section was funded headed by international Scientific Director Sang Yup Lee (KAIST, South Korea) and Co-Principal Investigator Tilmann Weber. The aim of the new section is to integrate the latest metabolic engineering technologies into Natural Products research in order to find and produce novel drug-candidates to combat bacterial infections.

Contribution to the network

Tilmann Weber has a long-standing experience in studying and engineering secondary metabolism of microorganisms.

In close collaboration with the Medema research group at Univ. Wageningen, NL, the Weber group is coordinating the development of the “antibiotics and secondary metabolite shell (antiSMASH)” and the antiSMASH database. Both are gold-standard tools for the genome mining and annotation of natural product biosynthetic gene clusters, which are used by a worldwide user base in industry and academia. The antiSMASH service, which is hosted at Tübingen University, Germany, (fungi-/plantiSMASH) and DTU (antiSMASH, antiSMASH-DB), so far has provided more than 380,000 analysis runs to the scientific community and the software was downloaded more than 10,000 times. The antiSMASH genome mining tools will be integral parts of the pathway discovery strategies used by most partners of the network.

The New Bioactive Compound section at DTU Biosustain has developed one of the most comprehensive CRISPR-based toolkits to engineer and edit actinomycetal genomes. The toolkit includes sgRNA design software (CRISpy-web), different tools for gene inactivation, as well as transcriptional modulation using CRISPRi. More than 80 MTAs have been signed since publishing the first version of the toolkit in 2015, which nowadays is used in labs all over the world and will also be an important tool for all partners working on actinomycetal antibiotics producers.