Christian Schwarz - Laureate of the "Körber-Stiftung Studienpreis" and founder in the field of biotechnological peptide manufacturing

Dr. Christian Schwarz, Körber-Laureate 2013. Photo: David Ausserhofer

Christian Schwarz studied Biochemistry at Heinrich Heine University. He continued his studies within the fast-track doctorate program of the faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at HHU. Christian Schwarz completed the mandatory modules of the masters program and in parallel started his doctoral studies at the Institute of Biochemistry at HHU under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Lutz Schmitt.
During his doctoral studies he has been funded by a fellowship of the CLIB-Graduate Cluster and graduated in 2012 with summa cum laude. For his doctoral thesis he also received the renowned "Studienpreis" of the Körber Stiftung. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at HHU Düsseldorf working on his start-up "pep2xpress".

The research conditions in the lab of Prof. Schmitt have been rather favorable for his work and the reason for him to stay in Düsseldorf after his undergraduate studies. The fact that he knew the lab and the group through interactions during his studies also had an influence on his decision to stay at HHU. He said that it was important for him that he feels comfortable at work. What he particularly liked working with Prof. Schmitt was that he gave him a lot of freedom in terms of his own research ideas. Christian Schwarz says that "..there are situations where essential experiments are needed, but in generally I had a lot of freedom to work on certain topics."

President of the Bundestag, Prof. Dr. Nobert Lammert, and Dr. Christian Schwarz during the prize ceremony of the Körber-Stiftung, Photo: David Ausserhofer

He has developed technologies with which peptides can be produced considerably cheaper. Peptide production is quite expensive and if production can be cost-saving that has quite an impact in many aspects. 
Reflecting on his initial intentions Christian says he wanted to obtain a PhD in order to improve his chances for a good position after graduation. At the same time he had also thought of the possibility to become self-employed. It was up to himself to organize money to apply the ideas of cheaper peptide production and to build up his own team to work with. He states that this has not always been easy but he built up an extensive network and took advantage of the start-up consultancy and support of CEDUS at HHU.
In 2015 a cooperation between Christian Schwarz and "Henkel" was initiated when their collaboration project was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with 2 million Euros. The project started in November 2015 and is approved for two years. The start-up produces peptides which are then transferred to Henkel. There they try to develop innovative products based on the newly synthesized peptides. "I can still work at university using the known infrastructures, however, the next step is to set up own laboratories." Christian Schwarz says. During the next two years he wants to reach a level of maturity to be able to convince investors of the technologies used and then become independent.

Christian Schwarz has been interviewed by Mareike Schulz in February 2016.

In person

Dr. Christian Schwarz


2008 - BA in Biochemistry
"Fluoreszenzspektroskopische Charakterisierung der Interaktion zwischen der intrazellulären Crumbs-Domäne und Proteinen mit spezifischen PDZ-Domänen von Drosophila melanogaster."

2012 - Fast-Track Promotion

PhD thesis:
"The Haemolysin A Type 1 Secretion System of Escherichia coli - Characterization and Biotechnological Application."

Research group: 
Prof. Dr. Lutz Schmitt, Institute of Biochemistry, HHU.


undefinedDeutscher Studienpreis der Körber-Stiftung

Additional Informationen:

Research Associate Program:
August-October 2007, University of Michigan, Karbstein Lab

Graduate Training:

undefinediGRAD Member 

Doctoral scholarship at the Graduate Cluster undefinedCLIB2021-GC

Patent application:
1. Agents and Methods for the Expression and Secretion of Peptides and Proteins; C. K. W. Schwarz, L. Schmitt, S. H. J. Smits; WO/2013/057312

2. Methods for the Expression of Peptides and Proteins, C. K. W. Schwarz, S. Smits, L. Schmitt; WO/2014/170430

Functional expression, purification and biochemical properties of subtilase SprP from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Pelzer, Alexander; Schwarz, Christian; Knapp, Andreas; Wirtz, Astrid; Wilhelm, Susanne; Smits, Sander; Schmitt, Lutz; Funken, Horst; Jaeger, Karl-Erich, MicrobiologyOpen (2015), accepted

Type I secretion systems - a story of appendices; K. Kanonenberg, C. K. W. Schwarz, L. Schmitt; Research in Microbiology (2013), Mar 26. pii: S0923-2508(13)00054-5.

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