Prof. Dr. Cathleen Zeymer


Protein Chemistry

Academic Career and Research Areas

Prof. Zeymer (b. 1985) conducts research in the field of artificial metalloenzymes. These catalysts combine the reactivity of metal complexes with the selectivity of proteins. They are generated by rational design and subsequently optimized for specific chemical reactions by laboratory evolution. Prof. Zeymer’s group utilizes both natural proteins and de novo protein scaffolds, which are designed computationally, as starting points to develop these novel catalysts. In addition to applying the artificial metalloenzymes in biocatalysis, the detailed analysis of their molecular structure and mechanism is one of the lab’s key objectives.

Prof. Zeymer studied Chemistry at the Technical University of Dresden and the University of California Berkeley. She performed her PhD studies in Biochemistry/Biophysics at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg. In 2015, Prof. Zeymer joined ETH Zurich as a postdoctoral fellow and has been leading an independent junior research group since 2018. She was appointed as Tenure Track Assistant Professor for Protein Chemistry at TUM in 2020.


  • Thieme Chemistry Journals Award (2021)
  • Ambizione Grant of the Swiss National Science Foundation (2018)
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (2016)
  • EMBO Short-Term Fellowship (2015)
  • PhD Fellowship of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (2011)

Caldwell SJ, Haydon IC, Piperidou N, Huang PS, Bick MJ, Sjöström HS, Hilvert D, Baker D, Zeymer C: "Tight and specific lanthanide binding in a de novo TIM barrel with a large internal cavity designed by symmetric domain fusion". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2020; 117 (48): 30362-30369


Zeymer C, Hilvert D: “Directed Evolution of Protein Catalysts”. Annual Review of Biochemistry. 2018; 87: 131-157.


Zeymer C, Zschoche R, Hilvert D: “Optimization of Enzyme Mechanism along the Evolutionary Trajectory of a Computationally Designed (Retro-)Aldolase”. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2017; 139 (36): 12541-12549.


*Obexer R, *Pott M, *Zeymer C, Griffiths AD, Hilvert D: “Efficient Laboratory Evolution of Computationally Designed Enzymes with Low Starting Activities Using Fluorescence-Activated Droplet Sorting”. Protein Engineering, Design & Selection. 2016; 29 (9): 355-366.


*Zeymer C, *Werbeck ND, Zimmermann S, Reinstein J, Hansen DF: “Characterizing Active Site Conformational Heterogeneity along the Trajectory of an Enzymatic Phosphoryl Transfer Reaction”. Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 2016; 55 (38): 11533-11537.