Martin Fussenegger

Work and research

Martin Fussenegger is professor of biotechnology and bioengineering at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering in Basel (D-BSSE) of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the ETH Zurich. In 1992 he graduated in molecular biology and genetics with Werner Arber at the Biocenter in Basel, joined the Max Planck Institute of Biology for his Ph.D. thesis in medical microbiology (1993-1994) and continued his studies on host-pathogen interactions at the Max Planck Institute of Infection Biology as a postdoctoral fellow (1995). In 1996, Martin Fussenegger joined the research unit of James E. Bailey at the ETH Institute of Biotechnology as an independent group leader where he refocused his research on mammalian cell engineering, a topic for which he received his habilitation in 2000. In 2002 Martin Fussenegger became Swiss National Science Foundation professor of molecular biotechnology at the ETH Institute of Biotechnology prior to being awarded a chair in biotechnology and bioengineering at the ETH Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering (2004). Since 2006, Martin Fussenegger is director of studies of the ETH biotechnology curriculum and director of the ETH Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering.

For his contributions to drug discovery and cell engineering Martin Fussenegger received the de Vigier and the Elmar Gaden Awards in 2003, became a member of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in 2007 and was the first non-US recipient of the Merck Award in Cell Engineering in 2008.

Source : Martin Fussenegger sur bioss (Center for biological signalling studies)

En savoir plusETH - D-BSSE (Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering), Zurich

Gene Control: From Biotechnology to Human Therapy

From a systems perspective, human disease originates from spontaneous, environmentally triggered or pathogen-induced perturbations of endogenous expression or signaling networks, and often results in disabling or fatal pathologies. Currently available therapeutic strategies include administration of small-molecule drugs or biopharmaceuticals, reprogramming of genetic deficiencies using gene-transfer technologies, and implantation of engineered cells or synthetic tissues. Focusing on mammalian cells and capitalizing on an integrated interdisciplinary systems approach we are implementing progress in basic research to achieve generic and prototypic advances in human therapy. Our current research initiatives include several programs interfacing with biopharmaceutical manufacturing, gene therapy and tissue engineering :

  • Design of prototype biopharmaceutical manufacturing strategies by integrating engineering of mammalian production cell lines for increased secretion of high-quality biologics with upstream process development.
  • Design of novel trigger-inducible transgene expression systems for pharmacological dosing of in-situ-produced protein therapeutics as well as therapeutic reprogramming of endogenous gene networks.
  • Development of safe, efficient and affordable gene and protein transfer technologies with a focus on engineering of attenuated viral delivery systems.
  • Controlled transdifferentiation of mammalian cells by ectopic expression of different transgenes with precise dosing and timing enabling production of therapeutically relevant cell phenotypes.
  • Design of complex synthetic gene networks with digital expression logic allowing construction of prosthetic transcription circuits for seamless integration into host physiological networks.
  • Evaluation of prototype gene therapy applications using mouse disease models.
  • Epigenetic reprogramming of mammalian cells to improve transgene control modalities and lock cells into a desired phenotype. 
  • Design of scaffold-free microtissues to study vascularization, transdifferentiation, intercellular crosstalk, tissue-implant fusion and electrogenic characteristics in a multicellular three-dimensional configuration.
  • Discovery of novel cytostatic, immunosuppressive and anti-infective drugs using engineered mammalian sensor proteins and tissue culture systems.


Website of the ETH-D-BSSE
People Fussenegger group

En savoir plusThe page of Martin Fussenegger on the website Gen Suisse.

En savoir plusParticipation to the Biobricks Foundation SB 6.0, july 2010
The Biobricks Foundation - The sixth international meeting on synthetic biology


Martin Fussenegger has published over 165 refereed research papers, is coinventor of several patents, Vice-Chairman of the European Society for Animal Cell Technology (ESACT), editor of the Journal of Biotechnology, editorial board member of Cell Engineering and Biotechnology & Bioengineering and cofounder of the biotechnology startup companies Cistronics Cell Technology GmbH and Cistronics Antiinfectives AG. 

Martin Fussenegger's page


Prof. Dr. Martin Fussenegger
ETH Zürich

Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE)

Phone: +41 61 387 31 60

Fax: +41 61 387 39 88