Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Department of Biosciences

Full Professor, Molecular Biotechnology, Goethe Universität Frankfurt

Goethe Universität Frankfurt
Department of Biosciences
Max-von-Laue-Str. 9
60438 Frankfurt am Main

+49 69 798 29557



Background and expertise of the representative

Helge Bode is the coordinator of the MegaSyn initiative, funded by the State of Hesse, Germany, as part of their LOEWE program. MegaSyn is dedicated to the structural biology and biochemistry of megasynthases like polyketide synthases (PKS) and non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPS) that produce most of our currently used antibiotics. His lab has developed novel methods for NRPS engineering that allow the efficient manipulation of these megasynthases using the eXchange Unit technology, protected by three patents (1 granted, 2 filed).

Helge Bode has authored >150 publications covering all aspects of natural product research, most of them related to natural products from entomopathogenic bacteria of the genera Photorhabdus and Xenorhabdus and including their chemical ecology, function, biosynthesis, biochemistry and synthetic biology.

Organisation profile

Goethe University Frankfurt is one of the largest universities in Germany with more than 45,000 students, 5,000 PhD students and 650 professors in 16 departments covering natural and life sciences as well as the humanities and socio-economic sciences. Goethe University is committed to providing excellent conditions for academic teaching and research, as well as a continuous dialogue with society. Embedded in a metropolitan area of considerable economic strength, with a sizeable international population and a cosmopolitan spirit, the University covers a wide range of subjects. Over the past decade, Goethe University has undergone a profound transformation. The creation of two new campuses, the intensification of collaborations with external research institutes and the university’s transformation into an autonomous Stiftungsuniversität (Foundation under Public Law) have all contributed to promote the University into the group of leading research universities in Germany. Goethe University not only guarantees its researchers the freedom to develop their individual ideas, but also enjoys a high degree of institutional autonomy. This has led to a continual improvement in research and teaching throughout all stages of academic career development.

The University has a total annual budget of approximately 370 million Euro in revenues, with an additional 170 million Euro out of third party funding from national as well as international sources like Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the European Union, the Hessian government and foundations. For example, Goethe University participated in more than 120 projects in the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union. Goethe University strongly engages in third-party funded research consortia, which are built on cooperation with excellent researchers and non-university research institutions, like Max-Planck-Institutes.

At the natural sciences campus of the Goethe University Frankfurt, the departments of biology, chemistry, physics, pharmacy and medicinal chemistry work together with two Max-Planck Institutes (brain research and biophysics), with a particularly strong background in structural biology including the full range of state-of-the-art methods (e.g. NMR, X-rax, cryo-EM). To take best advantage of this situation, a research cluster founded by the state of Hesse was initiated by Helge Bode in order to connect the structural biology expertise with natural product research, with a particular focus on the structure and biochemistry of polyketide synthases and non-ribosomal peptide synthetases.

The Bode group currently comprises 28 members, most of them scientists (microbiologists, chemists, biotechnologists) who all work together in the area of natural products (isolation and cultivation of bacteria, isolation and structure elucidation of new compounds, heterologous expression and characterization of desired proteins and complete biosynthetic gene clusters).

Contribution to the network

Helge Bode will contribute to NRPS engineering enabling the modification of natural NRPS systems. This will allow the production of less side products, the production of minor derivatives as main products or the de novo design of modified natural products all based on exchange and assembly of NRPS building blocks (eXchange Units) to produce peptides with modified amino acid composition.