Dr Jan Claesen

Research Leader

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I have always been fascinated by the molecular mechanisms that underlie the macroscopic biological world that surrounds us and this led me to study Biological Engineering at the KU Leuven, mastering in Cell and Gene Biotechnology. During this time, I became intrigued by the wealth of roles bacteria play in our daily lives and their potential applications for medicine and health. I explored this further during my PhD in the lab of Prof. Mervyn Bibb, at the John Innes Centre, studying the genetics and biosynthesis of ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptide antibiotics in Streptomyces.

After my PhD, I joined the lab of Prof. Michael Fischbach in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, USA. My focus shifted to the characterisation of bacterial metabolites that mediate microbe-microbe and microbe-host interactions in the human microbiome.

I returned to Norwich in 2016 to join the Quadram Institute. My group uses a combination of genetic and biochemical techniques to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that drive community structure and dynamics in the human microbiome, and to engineer commensal bacteria for fundamental and translational applications.

Key Publications

Smanski MJ, H Zhou, J Claesen, B Shen, MA Fischbach, and CA Voigt (2016). Synthetic biology to access and expand nature’s chemical diversity. Nat Rev Microbiol, 14(3): 135-149.

Claesen J, and MA Fischbach (2015). Synthetic microbes as drug delivery systems. ACS Synth Biol, 4(4): 358-364.

Wollenberg MS*, J Claesen*, IF Escapa, KL Aldridge, MA Fischbach, and KP Lemon (2014). Propionibacterium-produced coproporphyrin III induces Staphylococcus aureus aggregation and biofilm formation. mBio, 5(4): e01286-01214. (*equal contribution)

Cimermancic P*, MH Medema*, J Claesen*, K Kurita, LC Wieland Brown, K Mavrommatis, A Pati, PA Godfrey, M Koehrsen, J Clardy, BW Birren, E Takano, A Sali, RG Linington, and MA Fischbach (2014). Insights into secondary metabolism from a global analysis of prokaryotic biosynthetic gene clusters. Cell, 158(2): 412-421. (*equal contribution)

Claesen J, and M Bibb (2010). Genome mining and genetic analysis of cypemycin biosynthesis reveal an unusual class of posttranslationally modified peptides. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 107(37): 16297-16302.