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  • Welcome to the Hammer research group

    We aim to design, evolve, understand and apply enzymes for new catalytic reactions.

    © Universität Bielefeld


New catalytic reactions by directed enzyme evolution

Our research group combines methods from organic chemistry, protein biochemistry and directed evolution to design, apply and understand new enzyme function. Completely new catalytic reactions can be envisioned in enzymes, because their macromolecular structure enables a very high level of molecular recognition to control catalytic cycles. Reaction discovery and development in enzyme active sites benefit from the ability to precisely bind substrates in defined conformations, to guide competing reactions pathways and to control highly reactive intermediates such as carbocations and radicals.

We aim to develop a new class of catalysts for synthetic organic chemistry that is protein-based, fully genetically encoded and catalyzes fundamental C-C, C-N and C-O bond formations that do not have a good catalytic solution. These new enzymes will potentially be applied in organic synthesis, increase our understanding in enzymology and can expand the metabolism in living organisms.


Selected Publications

Chiral alcohols from alkenes and water: Directed evolution of a styrene hydratase

Gajdoš M, Wagner J, Ospina F, Köhler A, Engqvist MKM, Hammer SC
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2023, 62, e202215093.


Engineered P450 enables direct aryl alkene to ketone oxidation by accessing highly reactive carbocation intermediates

Gergel S, Soler J, Klein A, Schülke KH, Hauer B, Garcia-Borràs M, Hammer SC
ChemRxiv, 2022.


Selective biocatalytic N-methylation of unsaturated heterocycles

Ospina F, Schülke KH, Soler J, Klein A, Prosenc B, Garcia-Borràs M, Hammer SC
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2022, 61, e202213056.

Selected as VIP paper by Angewandte Chemie.
Highlighted by B. List and M. Turberg in Synfacts 2023, 19, 0080.


Enzymatic control over reactive intermediates enables direct oxidation of alkenes to carbonyls by a P450 iron-oxo species

Soler J, Gergel S, Klaus C, Hammer SC, Garcia-Borràs M
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2022, 144, 15954-15968.


New catalytic reactions by enzyme engineering

Klaus C, Hammer SC
Trends in Chemistry 2022, 4, 363-366.

Invited contribution to a focus issue on "Protein Engineering and Chemoenzymatic Synthesis".


Substrate profiling of anion methyltransferases for promiscuous synthesis of S-adenosylmethionine analogs from haloalkanes

Schülke KH, Ospina F, Hörnschemeyer K, Gergel S, Hammer SC
ChemBioChem, 2022, 23, e202100632.

Selected as VIP paper by ChemBioChem.
Highlighted in the ChemBioTalents 2022/23 collection.


Biocatalytic alkylation chemistry: Building molecular complexity with high selectivity

Ospina F, Schülke KH, Hammer SC
ChemPlusChem 2022, 87, e202100454. 

Selected as VIP paper by ChemPlusChem.


Engineered enzymes enable selective N‐alkylation of pyrazoles with simple haloalkanes

Bengel LL, Aberle B, Egler-Kemmerer AN, Kienzle S, Hauer B, Hammer SC
Angew Chem Int Ed2021, 60, 5554-5560.

Selected as VIP paper by Angewandte Chemie.
Highlighted by B. List and J.L. Kennemur in Synfacts 2021, 17, 0322.


Anti-Markovnikov alkene oxidation by metal-oxo–mediated enzyme catalysis

Hammer SC, Kubik G, Watkins E, Huang S, Minges H, Arnold FH
Science 2017, 358, 215-218.

Highlighted by S. Bormann in C&EN.
Highlighted by B. List and G.A. Shevchenko in Synfacts 2018, 14, 0083.
Highlighted by ACS in Chemistry Research of the year 2017.


Design and evolution of enzymes for non-natural chemistry

Hammer SC, Knight AM, Arnold FH
Curr. Opin. Green Sustain. Chem2017, 7, 23-30.



Stephan C. Hammer

Jun.-Prof. for Organic Chemistry and Biocatalysis & Emmy Noether Research Group Leader (New Catalytic Reactions by Directed Enzyme Evolution).

Curriculum vitae

Google Scholar

Orcid, Twitter


Iris Dopheide



Alina Klein

Chemical Laboratory Assistant

Alina is our Bielefeld local and manages our lab. She joined the group after successfully completing her training as chemical laboratory assistant at Bielefeld University.


Lucas Bocquin

PhD Student

Lucas is French and he studied organic chemistry in Marseille (France) and Trondheim (Norway). Lucas worked with Dr. Hervé Clavier and completed his master thesis with Prof. Elisabeth Jacobsen.


Matúš Gajdoš

PhD Student

Matúš is from Bratislava (Slovakia) and studied biotechnology in Bratislava and Graz. Matúš joined our group after his master thesis with Prof. Robert Kourist.


Shubhanshu Jain

PhD Student

Shubhanshu is from Madhya Pradesh (India) and studied chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay. Shubhanshu joined our group after his master thesis with Prof. Debabrata Maiti.


Cindy Klaus

PhD Student

Cindy is from Switzerland where she studied chemical biology at ETH Zürich. Cindy joined us after her master thesis with Prof. Donald Hilvert.


Vanessa Reitz

PhD Student

Vanessa studied biology and biochemistry at the Philipps University of Marburg (Germany) and joined us after her master thesis with Dr. Johannes Rebelein at the Max Planck Institute of Terrestrial Microbiology.


Felipe Ospina Sánchez 

PhD Student

Felipe comes from Colombia and is a chemist by training. Before joining our group, Felipe worked as lecturer and research assistant with Prof. Felipe Otálvaro at Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín.


Kai Schülke

PhD Student

Kai is from southern Germany, studied technical biochemistry at Stuttgart University and already made an internship in industry (Roche Biocatalysis). He joined us with a DBU PhD scholarship.



Would you like to join our team? We are currently looking for a postdoc. Please come and talk to us.


Stephan Hammer
Jun.-Prof. für Organische Chemie und Biokatalyse
Emmy Noether Nachwuchsgruppenleiter
Universität Bielefeld, Fakultät für Chemie
Universitätsstraße 25, D-33615 Bielefeld
+49 521 106-67892

Iris Dopheide
+49 521 106-6963

Funding Acknowledgements

Our research is funded by the following institutions

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