Research groupResearch Unit

Christian Hackenberger

Chemical Biology II


Our group is interested in understanding how nature generates specific biological function in complex cellular environments. Research projects in our laboratory combine techniques and approaches from organic chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics with the major emphasis on synthetic methodology development for natural protein modifications.


We are a young interdisciplinary research group at FMP. Our research projects focus on understanding how nature generates specific biological function in complex cellular environments. Research projects in our laboratory combine techniques and approaches from organic chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics with the major emphasis on synthetic methodology development for natural protein modifications. For more information please visit the corresponding sections in this homepage.

How proteins can change fate

In the cell, protein modifications control many signaling pathways that support healthy functioning and that are disrupted in disease. Such modifications can act as “toggle switches” between health and disease. Chemical biologists want to control these protein modifications in the cell, both to study the biological role of such modifications and to decorate proteins with fluorescent moieties that permit their visualization. Our laboratory aims to identify new chemical approaches that allow the modification of peptides and proteins, both on isolated biomolecules as well as in living cells and organisms. Here, our main objective is to apply these highly selective bioconjugation reactions to study the functional consequences of natural protein modifications, as well as to generate novel pharmaceutical and medicinal applications, such as protein or antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) against cancer or viral infections.


Contact Offce

Jennifer Trümpler

Secretary, Hackenberger Group,
Secretary Fiedler Group

Contact Office and Graduate School

Katrin Wittig

Secretary, Hackenberger Group,
PhD Program Coordinator

Research Section

Chemical Biology


Chemoselective Thiol-Conjugation with Alkene or Alkyne-Phosphonothiolates and -Phosphonates
C.P.R. Hackenberger, M.-A. Kasper, A. Baumann, S. Byrne, H. Leonhardt, T. Stoscheck, M. Gerlach, J. Helma-Smets, D. Schumacher WO 2019170710
Priority date: 07.03.2018

Chemoselective Thiol-Conjugation with Alkene or Alkyne-Phosponamidates
C.P.R. Hackenberger, M.-A. Kasper, D. Schumacher, M. Glanz, T. Sauer, A. Stengl, H. Leonhardt, J. Helma WO 2018041985
Priority date: 01.09.2016

Unusual substrates of tubulin tyrosine ligase
C.P.R. Hackenberger, D. Schumacher, J. Helma,H. Leonhardt WO 2017186855
Priority date: 28.04.2016

Means and Methods for the site-specific functionalization of polypeptides
H. Leonhardt, J. Helma, D. Schumacher, C.P.R. Hackenberger WO 2016066749
Priority date: 29.10.2014

Compound modified by a phosphoramidate and/or phosphonamide group and use thereof
G. del Signore, R. Serwa, I. Wilkening, R. Vallée, C.P.R. Hackenberger Appl. Nr. PCT/EP2010/052968

Group Members


By PositionA-Z
  • Prof. Dr. Christian Hackenberger studied chemistry at the University of Freiburg, at the RWTH Aachen and at the University of Wisconsin/Madison (USA). Since 2012, he is Leibniz-Humboldt Professor of Chemical Biology at Humboldt University and Head of the Chemical Biology II Department at the FMP. He is the founder of Tubulis GmbH, a company that develops new, better-tolerated therapeutics against cancer.

  • Katta was born in West Berlin into an original Berlin family.  After a professional training in a large law firm, she thought that studying law would be a good idea. But it wasn't...
    Even a change to archaeology wasn't much better, so she gave up studying and took other paths.
    She has been working for Christian since 2008 and moved with him from FU Berlin to FMP in 2013.
    Katta only has a part-time job because otherwise she wouldn't have enough time for all her other interests. In addition to her hobbies of sewing, scouting and softball, she is involved in raising awareness for people with Down syndrome because her daughter is affected by it.

  • Jenny grew up in the most “chemical” part of Germany near the Leuna- and Buna-plants. However, she decided to become an animal farmer first. After working in an Irish company for some years, she went back to school to be a bilingual secretary. Assisting the management of a consulting company in Berlin since 2010, she made time to study three evenings a week and graduated in business administration (B.A.). Having found her interest in academia, she switched to the International Office at Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development to support students going abroad and international students studying here. She is happy to assist the Fiedler and Hackenberger group in administrative matters. Chocolate is vital for her, she always stores a pile or two in her desk.

  • Growing up in the beautiful state of Brandenburg, Kristin trained as a medical laboratory assistant in Schwerin after graduating from high school. Afterwards, she worked for several years in a medical-diagnostic laboratory in the middle of Berlin, a metropolis that was very lively for her.
    The desire to develop herself, to have new challenges, to acquire knowledge and new techniques led her into research and finally to the FMP.
    Finally out of the big city and back to her quiet home. Because if you don't have to go to the city for work, you can also move back to the Brandenburg countryside.
    Since the end of 2014, she has been taking care of the biochemical laboratory in Christian Hackenberger's group as a technical assistant: she provides practical advice or assistance to anyone who wants it. She "feeds" the cell culture, our cabinets and shelves and many times a data- and protein-hungry colleague. She pipettes, mutates, expresses, optimizes and explodes... Upsi! ;-) The latter only in exceptional cases... and precisely because not everything always goes according to plan in the research lab. But otherwise it would be boring!

  • Beate was born and raised in Berlin, spent half a year in Australia and then worked for almost two decades in green and white biotechnology. Since 2018 at the FMP, she is acting as "HPLC specialist" and contact person for many other technical-organizational worries and needs in the working group.

  • Ines was born in the north of Brandenburg, grew up in a large district town in the Free State of Saxony, spent the storm and stress period (studies) in Berlin and stayed there.
    She has been trying to produce peptides since 1998, first at the Charité and since 2013 in the Core Facility at the FMP. It doesn't always succeed, but that's rarely her fault (never, actually).
    To escape the lab routine, she likes to ride her motorcycle (for the fresh air) and dedicate herself to her allotment (against the lab pallor).
    If there is still time, she likes to go bowling.

  • Bingjia Yan obtained his B.S. degree from the Beijing Institute of Petrochemical Technology (China) in 2011. After obtaining his PhD from the University of Southampton (UK) in 2016 under the supervision of Prof. Martin Grossel and Prof. Simon Coles, he returned to China and conducted postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Prof. Lei Liu in the Department of Chemistry at Tsinghua University (China). Then, he moved to Berlin and joined Prof. Christian Hackenberger's group at FMP until now. He is interested in chemical protein synthesis and its applications to biomedical studies.

  • Originally from sunny Philippines, Vince obtained his PhD from Kyoto University, Japan under Prof. Shiroh Futaki funded by the MEXT scholarship. He worked on a peptide-based strategy that combines macropinocytosis induction and endosome release for intracellular delivery of biomacromolecules. Wanting to learn more chemistry, Vince moved to the other side of the world to be a postdoc in the Hackenberger group. He performs microscopy techniques to study the cellular entry mechanisms and to fine-tune the efficacies of cell-penetrating peptides (CPP) and CPP-additives. Away from the lab, he enjoys cooking Asian dishes, drinks, and pub quizzes.

  • Mark studied Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences (BSc) and Chemistry (MSc) at Leiden University, where he worked on total synthesis (Prof. Dr. Gijs van der Marel, Prof. Dr. Jeroen Codée) and activity-based protein profiling (prof. Dr. Hans Aerts) during internships. During his PhD with Dr. Sander van Kasteren and Prof. Dr. Herman Overkleeft at Leiden University, he worked on trans-cyclooctene/tetrazine ‘click to release’ bioorthogonal chemistry, specifically concerning the development of new synthetic strategies and applications of this method towards chemical immunology. Mark moved to Berlin in 2021, where he is developing site-specific protein modification chemistry and exploring new fundamental concepts of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) as a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Prof. Dr. Christian Hackenberger at the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (FMP).

  • Jacobo started his scientific career doing his final degree project under the supervision of Professor Eugenio Uriarte (Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy). In this first stage, the synthesis of coumarin derivatives with interest in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's has been addressed.
    Later, he studied the master's degree in Chemical Research, where he developed the master's thesis under the supervision of professors Miguel Vázquez and Eugenio Vázquez (CIQUS) in the area of ​​biological chemistry. This work is based on the obtention of enantiopure peptide helicates that recognize minor DNA structures, called three-way junction DNA. This work has been the starting point for the projects carried out a posteriori during his doctoral thesis, which has been developed in the same research group and has followed a continuous line focused on the synthesis of metallopeptides with the capacity to recognize this non-canonical DNA structures.

    During the doctoral thesis period he has spent 4 months in the group of Prof. Thorfinnur Gunnlaugsson (Trinity College of Dublin). During this time, a project based on obtaining rotaxanes with phosphorescent properties has been developed.

  • Leander holds an MChem in Chemistry from University of Southampton and during his studies did Master’s Research Placement at University of Toronto in Andrew Wooley’s group working on photoswitchable affinity proteins. He then moved to the University of Cambridge for PhD research in the development of nanostructured photocatalysts derived from riboflavin (vitamin B2).

  • Chris grew up in the small town Pasching in Upper Austria that is “famous” for eliminating Werder Bremen in the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2003. However, instead of starting a football career, Chris decided to study chemistry at the University of Vienna. After completing his bachelor thesis in radiochemistry, he shifted his focus towards chemical biology. For his master thesis, Chris joined the group of Karl Mechtler at the Institute for Molecular Pathology where he was working on mass spectrometry based proteomics. To further broaden his horizon he eventually moved to Berlin and joined the Hackenbees for his PhD where he combines his passion for chemical proteomics and phosphorus chemistry.

  • Sebastián comes from one of the most diverse countries in the world, Colombia, and for this reason he loves nature and the ocean. Therefore, his scientific interests are linked to natural products synthesis, biochemistry, chemical biology and biocatalysis. He has traveled far and wide through Latinamerica and enjoy very much typical mexican food. His researching goals include becoming a professor in a public university in his country, as he deeply believes that through education true lasting changes can be made in society. In his free time he enjoys biking through new streets in Berlin, listening, playing and dancing to cool music.

  • Eleftheria grew up in Greece, where she completed her B.Sc. in Chemistry. After that, she decided she really had enough with all the sun and sea, so she moved to Germany, where she did her master’s in molecular science at the FAU in Erlangen. During this time Elef gained a lot of interest in chemical biology (apart from Bavarian beer!) so she joined the Hackenbees for her master thesis. Little did she know, she would stay there for a few years, to develop chemical probes for studying functional protein phosphatases. In her free time, Elef likes to meet with friends, dance (even if she is alone in her room) and researching about how she could make her own fashion clothing line!

  • Luise was born in beautiful Hamburg. She studied Biochemistry at the Freie Universität Berlin. After exploring the field of toxicology during her bachelor thesis, where she studied the effects of  pyrrolizidine alkaloids on liver cells and a brief stay in tissue engineering where she worked on producing artificial blood vessels she visited the Hackenberger Group for a research internship. There she learned about chemical biology and especially cell penetrating peptides for the first time and continued working on this topic for her master thesis. She stayed with the Hackenberger lab for the opportunity to further optimize CPPs and CPP mediated delivery of protein cargo.

  • Marc grew up in the suburbs of Munich, Bavariva and completed his undergrads in pharmacy at the LMU in Großhadern. During his studies, he started to gain interest in organic synthesis at Dr. Oliver Thorn-Seshold’s lab synthesizing covalent phostoswitchable microtubule disruptors and the scale up for in-vivo­ mice studies. After finishing his state examination, he joined David Spring’s lab in Cambridge, UK. There, he started out synthesizing unnatural amino acids for the incorporation of stapled peptides. He currently is working on a system to induce cleavage of phosphonamidates based bioconjugates. In his free time, Marc likes to dive into the Berlin nightlife, check out new art galleries or update his wardrobe at flee markets.

  • Sarah grew up in Flensburg and studied chemistry at the Humboldt University in Berlin. She joined the Hackenberger Lab for a Research Internship in the Summer of 2020. After enjoying her stay, she decided to stick around for her master´s thesis and PhD. Currently, she focusses on the synthesis of electrophilic and cell-surface reactive peptides and their application as additives in the cellular delivery of proteins. In her free time, she enjoys biking and running.

  • Judith grew up in beautiful Mainz on the Rhine before she pursued her scientific career in East Germany: She completed her bachelor at TU Dresden working on peptide-drug conjugates in Carsten Werner’s group and moved to Berlin for her M.Sc. degree at Humboldt-University. During a research project in the Ralser Lab/MS Core Facility at Charité she explored prospects of MS based assays for clinical diagnoses. After graduating, she decided to stay with the Hackenberger Lab where she also did her master thesis. Here, she designs cell-permeable conjugates for light induced protein labeling and looks into endogenous cysteine phosphorylation.

  • After spending the first 18 years of my life in Dresden, I started studying Biotechnical Chemistry at the TU Ilmenau. In the Master "Chemical Biology" in Jena, I specialized in the production and use of chemical tools in biological systems. In my final thesis, I investigated the mechanism of a natural product biosynthesis step in Christian Hertweck's laboratory at HKI Jena. In May 2022, I moved to Berlin to do research as a PhD candidate in Prof. Hackenberger's lab. In my project, I am working on making peptide electrophiles intracellularly available using cell-penetrating peptides. Outside the lab, I love doing sports, enjoy cooking and discovering the diversity of Berlin.

Job offers

Interested in an exciting interdisciplinary research project at the interface of organic chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics? For applications to internships, master theses, postdoctoral or PhD positions please contact Prof. Hackenberger (hackenbe(at) directly. Applicants should have a strong background in synthetic organic chemistry and/or biochemistry. Please send your application including a CV, a letter of motivation, a summery of your previous research experience and at least two letters of recommendation.


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
GRK 2473 - SynPepBio

German Federal Ministry of Science (BMBF)
16GW0357K Konjugation und ADC-Synthese

Leibniz Association
SAW T18/2017 - Cystein antibody-drug-bioconjugation
SAW T85/2020 - Selective depletion of plasma cells secreting pathogenic autoantibodies in chronic autoimmune diseases

German-Israeli Foundation (GIF)
Synthesis of Cell-permeable Ubiuitin Chains for Fundtional Studies in Living Cells

Challenge "Neue Antivirale Mittel"