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David Schnettler

David Schnettler


David Schnettler is a NOMIS–ETH Fellow at the Centre for Origin and Prevalence of Life at ETH Zurich (Switzerland). He is conducting his research under the mentorship of Sven Panke in the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-​BSSE) in the Bioprocess Laboratory.

Schnettler is a (bio)chemist turned protein enthusiast. After studies at the University of Constance (Germany) and École Normale Supérieure (France), he specialized in enzyme mechanisms and evolution during his PhD at the University of Cambridge (UK), where he used droplet microfluidics to evolve enzymes with new functions. His doctoral and postdoctoral research has been centered around how proteins evolve to acquire new functions and how this process can be steered to discover new biocatalysts. As a NOMIS Fellow, Schnettler will apply the tools of protein engineering to questions at the origin of life and aims to experimentally recapitulate the prebiotic emergence of a minimalist “proto-​polymerase.”

“I am fascinated by proteins and their elegance! Take a look at the most essential enzymes of life, the ribosome and polymerases: The enzymes in charge of the most basic life processes (like copying DNA) are the most complicated – they are large, intricate molecular machines of seemingly irreducible complexity. Yet, life is unthinkable without heredity and growth, and the biochemistry underlying these processes is deeply conserved among all life on Earth. So how did it all start? Can we simplify these enzymes?”

David Schnettler | Awards Film

David Schnettler | Insights Film

David Schnettler's News

ETH Zurich has announced the three postdoctoral fellows who will join the Centre for Origin and Prevalence of Life (COPL) at ETH as part of the NOMIS–ETH Fellowship Program. David […]

David Schnettler's Insights

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