Tilmann Weber receives Professor title

Friday 16 Mar 18

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Tilmann Weber
Professor
DTU Biosustain
+4524 89 61 32
Tilmann Weber has officially received the Professor title.

When Tilmann Weber was younger everyone thought he would choose to study computational science and find a great job in the automobile industry in Germany. He says himself that he was a computer freak and even though he still enjoys working with software development a great teacher made his interest switch to biology.

An interest he has kept ever since and during his many years of studies and in the role as Assistant Professor at Tübingen University. It was also in the city of Tübingen, Baden Württemberg, that he specialized in the field of microbiology and the study of microorganisms.

Today, he is comfortably leaning a bit forward in his chair at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, DTU, with a toothy smile on his face. For ten days he has known that one of his goals, one of his dreams, have become reality. Tilmann Weber has received the Professor title. When asked about whether he had reached out for this title for a long time the answer is clear:

“Yes! It is definitely a yes. As soon as I started my academic career I had a goal to become Professor at some point. This title provides more independence and even though my job description has not changed this demands that I take more responsibility and analyze things in a longer-term perspective.”

Searching for new antibiotics
" As soon as I started my academic career I had a goal to become Professor at some point."
Tilmann Weber, Professor at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, DTU.

Tilmann Weber joined the Center in November 2013 when a grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation made it possible to establish the scientific section New Bioactive Compounds where he became a CO-PI in the scientific section led by Dr. Sang Yup Lee. Currently, the group is searching for new antibiotics that will help in dealing with an emerging antimicrobial resistance crisis.

“The aim of our work is to find new candidate molecules that can be developed into antibiotics. We can use adaptive laboratory evolution to screen a lot of strains and apply the tools to identify biosynthesis genes required to make these compounds. This makes us able to test whether the strains can produce enough of the compounds to consider them as candidates for the development of future antibiotics,” says he.

While this research field has become burning hot in the last years this has not always been the case. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the general opinion was that fantastic antibiotics were available so why even bother to produce more. Industrial efforts were almost cut down to zero and in academia, it became increasingly difficult to receive funding. An issue, the Professor experienced at an early stage of his career.

“The antimicrobial resistance crisis where more and more pathogens become resistant in the hospitals has clearly brought this field of research into focus again. When I first started to study microbiology it was definitely not the sexiest research field to pick in terms of receiving funding,” says Tilmann Weber.

The Times They Are a Changin’

Problems with funding seem long gone at the moment. Two research projects that recently received funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation provides new opportunities for the German Professor to solve some of the biggest challenges waiting ahead.

"We will have to find compounds that have the properties to be transformed into drugs. The compounds need to be very active against the pathogens we want to treat and have a strong enough stability. There are not many drugs that really fulfill these prerequisites and the challenge will be to select the right candidates out of hundreds of thousands of compounds that can be found in nature.

Tilmann Weber can now try to solve this challenge while calling himself Professor. 

 

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