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Prof. Dr. Martin Fussenegger


Prof. Dr. Martin Fussenegger
Biotechnology and Bioengineering Group Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering D-BSSE, Basel

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zürich and University of Basel Mattenstrasse 26 CH-4058 Basel

E-mail martin.fussenegger
Phone +41 61 387 31 60
Martin Fussenegger is the full professor of biotechnology and bioengineering at ETH Zürich and the University of Basel. With his group at D-BSSE he seeks to leverage the potential of mammalian designer cells for biomedical applications. On several occasions the Fussenegger group has successfully implemented complex genetic networks in human cells to achieve advanced information processing and molecular prostheses in murine hosts. From a synthetic biologist’s perspective, stem cells offer great promise for functional replacement of human tissues tailored to the patient needs. Tightly regulated differentiation of stem cells is key in the production of this dawning generation of cell-based therapeutics. Thanks to their phenotypic malleability and comparatively stable genomic markup, stem cells are the prime candidates for biological rewiring. Transient deployment of small molecule-based genetic circuits for example has been used for the differentiation of human iPSC’s-derived pancreatic progenitors into glucose-sensitive insulin-secreting beta-like cells. The Fussenegger group is primarily interested in the application of bioengineering tools such as Crispr/Cas9, transient DNA delivery and RNA-based circuits to precisely modulate stem cell fate for advancing regenerative medicine.

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Recent publications related to stem cells:

  • Saxena P, Bojar D, Fussenegger M. (2017). Design of Synthetic Promoters for Gene Circuits in Mammalian Cells. Methods Mol Biol. 2017;1651:263-273.
  • Saxena P, Bojar D, Zulewski H, Fussenegger M. (2017). Generation of glucose-sensitive insulin-secreting beta-like cells from human embryonic stem cells by incorporating a synthetic lineage-control network. J Biotechnol. Jul 21. pii: S0168-1656(17)31543-2.
  • Ye H, Xie M, Xue S, Charpin-El Hamri G, Yin J, Zulewski H, Fussenegger M. (2017). Self-adjusting synthetic gene circuit for correcting insulin resistance. Nat Biomed Eng. 1(1):0005.
  • Müller M, Ausländer S, Spinnler A, Ausländer D, Sikorski J, Folcher M, Fussenegger M. (2017). Designed cell consortia as fragrance-programmable analog-to-digital converters. Nat Chem Biol. 13:309-316.
  • Xie M, Ye H, Wang H, Charpin-El Hamri G, Lormeau C, Saxena P, Stelling J, Fussenegger M. (2016). β-cell-mimetic designer cells provide closed-loop glycemic control. Science 354:1296-1301.
  • Saxena P. Heng BC, Bai P, Folcher M, Zulewski H, Fussenegger M. (2016). A programmable synthetic lineage-control network that differentiates human IPSCs into glucose-sensitive insulin-secreting beta-like cells. Nat Commun 7:11247.
  • Heng BC & Fussenegger M. (2014). Integration-Free Reprogramming of Human Somatic Cells to Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) Without Viral Vectors, Recombinant DNA, and Genetic Modification in Engineering and Analyzing Multicellular Systems (eds. Sun, L. & Shou, W.) 1151, 75–94 (Springer New York).
  • Heng BC, Heinimann K, Miny P, Iezzi G, Glatz K, Scherberich A, Zulewski H, Fussenegger M. (2013). mRNA transfection-based, feeder-free, induced pluripotent stem cells derived from adipose tissue of a 50-year-old patient. Metabolic Engineering 18:9-24.


  • Shao J, Xue S, Yu G, Yu Y, Yang X, Bai Y, Zhu S, Yang L, Yin J, Wang Y, Liao S, Guo S, Xie M, Fussenegger M, Ye H. (2017). Smartphone-controlled optogenetically engineered cells enable semiautomatic glucose homeostasis in diabetic mice. Sci Transl Med. 9(387).
  • Ausländer S, Fussenegger M. (2017). Synthetic RNA-based switches for mammalian gene expression control. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 48:54-60.
  • Ausländer S, Ausländer D, Fussenegger M. (2017). Synthetic Biology-The Synthesis of Biology. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 56:6396-6419.
  • Teixeira AP, Fussenegger M. (2017). Synthetic biology-inspired therapies for metabolic diseases. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 47:59-66.
  • Heng, BC & Fussenegger M. (2014). The Synthetic Biology Approach to Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine in Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine 1–17 (Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA)