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Frank-Martin Sauer

Early Stage Researcher
Yalelaan 1
3584 CL Utrecht
Project title: Development of Llama antibody technology for Candida diagnostics

I have always been fascinated by all kinds of lifeforms and later on even more by the biological systems they are based on. Especially the idea to employ the incredible diversity of biological systems available to solve real problems directed me into studying biotechnology. The basic concept behind biotechnology is to use lifeforms or components thereof (e.g. enzymes) to realise or modify processes which might yield products or have other specific uses (e. g. decontamination). Pursuing my interests I have obtained a bachelor's degree in biotechnology from the University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt (h_da, Germany) and made a research internship as well as my bachelor's thesis in the area of genotoxicity assessment at the Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz (UESC, Brazil). During my master's studies in biotechnology at the University of Münster (WWU, Germany) I had the chance to get realistic insights in different areas of biotechnological research including glycobiochemistry, biopolymer nanotechnology and enzyme technology. I concluded my studies with a research internship followed by the master's thesis at the University of São Paulo (USP, Brazil) in the area of drug discovery approaches for the Malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Curiosity has always been a driving force in my life and while searching for PhD projects I got intrigued by protein nanoparticles and their potential applications, which is how I have found the Opathy project. The binding domains of llama antibodies (VHHs) are intelligent protein nanoparticles because they are nano-sized and specifically recognise surface structures of other molecules, which is expressed by binding. As they are produced economically in simple organisms like Saccharomyces cerevisiae they are prime candidates for the development of specific test systems for fungal infections that have a good chance to be applied in real life. Cooperation with other ESRs will be essential for the success of this project because identification of relevant biomarkers that can be exploited for detection or characterisation of the fungal pathogens can hardly be performed alone.