• Dr. Björn Hamberger
  • Assistant Professor

With a background in chemistry, the training of Dr. Björn Hamberger expands from Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to Plant Synthetic Biology. The research of his team approaches the discovery of plant pathways in non-model medicinal plants accumulating bioactive specialized metabolites with pharmacological activities and their biotechnological production. He earlier established a successful collaboration with the industrial partner Evolva A/S, who have previously licensed five of nine patent applications. Furthermore, he has initiated a working relationship with BASF, which has resulted in a funded ‘Creativity Award, BASF’, beginning in October 2019 to the Hamberger team. In addition, invited BASF innovation scout and a member of the senior scientific staff have contributed their unique perspective for MSU graduate students of the Plant, Biotechnology, Health and Sustainability NIH T32 training program at MSU. The publication record of Dr. Hamberger’s team highlights an interdisciplinary and highly cooperative research, with top-tier international journals, including contributions since 2016 to Science, PNAS, Angewandte Chemie, International Edition, eLife, Nature Communications and the Journal of Biochemistry. Current work of his team, supported by two distinct MSU Strategic Partnership Programs (PIs Neubig and Buell), particularly relevant to this application, yielded two Invention Disclosures (MSU Technologies 2018, 2019) and one pending application related to the SPG led by Dr. Neubig (2019). The highly applied and Synthetic Biology focused approach has been integrated in Dr. Hamberger’s teaching and mentoring efforts for undergraduate students, graduates and postdoctoral members of the team. Dr. Hamberger has graduated 11 B.Sc. students, two M.Sc. students, trained six Ph.D. students and completed mentoring of nine postdoctoral fellows, two of which have recently accepted faculty positions as Assistant Professors. A special focus of the team is public communication and outreach: In 2019 Dr. Hamberger was selected as MSU Science Communication Fellow. Recent events include a talk at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit (2019), an exhibition at the Detroit Science Gallery (‘Fog of Dawn’, Summer 2019), a collaboration with the Eli and Edyth MSU Broad Museum for an exhibition (‘Spirit Molecule’, Summer 2019) and for the annual MSU Fascination of Plants Day (since 2016). Since 2016 Dr. Hamberger is also one of the mentors of the iGEM (international Genetically Engineered Machine) MSU undergraduate team, competing in the annual Synthetic Biology World Championship which so far resulted in three Bronze and one Silver medal for MSU.