Meet the
Team Structure - Heidelberg proudly presents its team of ten undergrad students that with all their passion, love, and determination developed and conducted this complex project. In their hard work they were guided by an equally enthusiastic group of nine iGEM veterans at literally all levels of scientific careers including two professors, one group leader, two PhD students and four student advisors surprisingly still qualifying as iGEM undergrads.


Moritz Przybilla

Driven by his passion for science and medicine Moritz started studying Molecular Biotechnology in Heidelberg with the intention to make his own contribution to the development of a HIV/AIDS cure. He is a very optimistic person with great dreams, who knows exactly what he wants.
Besides his excellent lab work skills, which he acquired during his bachelor thesis about epitope prediction in colorectal cancer and various internships, he is the one who managed the sponsoring almost by his own. With his irresistible charisma and charm and his ability to produce many convincing texts in a short time he saved us the financial support of companies and foundations.
As a valuable member of the wet lab team he took care of the numerous toolbox parts, handled the mutagenesis experiments and a lot more. He is not deterred from taking responsibility for tasks he is not familiar with as he possesses a high degree of self-initiative and can adjust quickly to his new projects. Moritz has a talent for organization and communication. He loves heated discussions and is not afraid to passionately fight for his opinion even if he is outnumbered.
Working with him as lab buddy was always a lot of fun, he uses the funniest phrases I have ever heard (I swear half of them don’t really exist) and when you hear schmaltzy love songs you know our romanticist Moritz is already in the lab. But watch out when Moritz performs transformations and has an ice bucket. It might happen that he surprises you with a hand full of ice in your neck.
By participating in iGEM he wants to “put the cherry on the icing of his bachelor degree” and I couldn’t imagine Team Heidelberg without him.

Catharina Gandor

When you first meet the iGEM Team Heidelberg, you might directly recognize Catharina Leila Angeles Gandor (yes, this is her full name ;) ), always with a smile on her face. Cathy, or "the mother of phages" (editor´s note: Game of Thrones episodes every monday in our breaks!) is one of our most positive and enthusiastic team members, managing the tremendously challenging task to write her bachelor thesis on human papilloma virus induced cancer and participating in iGEM simultaneously. As if that were not enough, she started her medicine studies in October - bedtimes? Are you kidding me?! As our most profiled phage expert, she is the reason for all our blue plaque assays, establishing a protocol which makes it even for the author of this text possible, to do reliable phage tests. Talking about her contribution to our project, you cannot miss her colourful festivals in our incubator - the Opto-PACE project. Developing the most beautiful part of our toolbox, Catharina accomplished the acquisition of many cloning methods like Golden gate assembly and the handling of Geneious all by herself or at least with a little help!
For all of you who did not get the point yet: Cathy is one of our most important team members, always friendly, helpful and ready to discuss, debate and sometimes dispute about diverse aspects of our project.
To cut things short: We are very happy to have you with us Cathy!

Jan Mathony

Jan as one of the oldest in our team is definitely one of the most experienced members in the wet-lab as well. He always had time to give less experienced members a helping hand or provided useful advice. His substantial skills in Geneious have been quite beneficial for the team as in silico design can be tricky sometimes ;) Besides his expertise, he spreads his kind and loveable sarcasm and by doing so he supported the team a lot. Although he was involved in several subprojects, Jan was one of the driving forces of the general organization and project planning.
As mentioned before, he was involved in many subprojects, but spent most of the time on working enthusiastically on PI-PACE, the-ß Lactamase and ß-Galactosidase assay, writing the RFC, and a lot of cloning work.
Apart from iGEM Jan is a second year Master student of Molecular Biosciences, who loves American Football and does not get tired of explaining the rules over and over again. With his innumerous skills and his inexhaustible positive attitude even during tough times Jan was indispensable to our team and we are glad to call him a team member.

Lukas Adam

Lukas alias Mr. Wiki himself, is the man behind our fabulous and sparkling Wiki. He is always a step ahead of all the others when it comes to wiki related topics. In a rush of a complete distraught he always urges us to “get our texts done as soon as possible” and never stops complaining about the “small” design related wishes we assign to him. He is kind of addicted to caffeine, though his doctor wants him to stop but he cannot refuse a Coca-Cola a day. Despite his tremendous qualities in wiki design he is also the one who was responsible for the idea of a riboswitch-guided PACE design known as the Theo-PACE.

Marita Klein

As the only person in our team that could do a handstand while pipetting a PCR, Marita is the most athletic team member. Besides that she was definitely the most enthusiastic team member, even being cheerful when she had to do a huge amount of plaque assays. As being responsible for one of our key projects, Marita had to spend many late evenings in the lab. No one knows how she managed pushing forward her projects, writing texts for our wiki, discussing human practices and dancing through the lab all at the same time. The longer the project proceeded and the higher the number of plaque assays and phage propagations became, the more she strengthened her supremacy over DNA and proteins. Although, Marita had by far the lowest caffeine consume in our team (coffee and coke are for beginners) she was the one who fed caffeine and theophylline to her E. coli, making sure they were all awake and ready to perform.
But Marita was not only respected and appreciated by her E. coli, but also by the whole team. She had an open ear for everyone who was stressed or "depressed" after weeks of hard work and thereby she was one of the main reasons for the good working atmosphere in our lab. Every iGEM team should have a Marita in its ranks.

Julius Upmeier zu Belzen

Like the polymaths of old greece, Julius is able to grasp new concepts in the blink of an eye and immediately contribute on high levels. While he is a genuine theoretician preferring clean and sterile environments over the wetlab mess, he never hesitates to take action. Whether he's involved in the assembly of the PACE-device or just helping out in the lab, he does it with a smile. But as real world phages are discrete and the disambiguities and uncertainties of the wetlab are quite annoying to him, the lover of the determined world commited himself to modeling and software where he contributed greatly to our results. When he isn't busy coding or feeding himself with immeasurable amounts of coke and skittles, Julius is always down for a good laugh.

Max Schwendemann

Max is a first-year bachelor student in Molecular Biotechnology. Besides his unorthodox singing, he has a favor for short dancing sessions in the lab. Although he just started studying, he already had lots of lab experiences. Max was one of the people in the wet lab, who worked the hardest - almost all day and night! He is our PREDCEL expert and takes care of the protein interaction experiments. On top, he is the mastermind behind our fabulous video and many design ideas are based on his creative ideas. Max is fondly called our nighthawk, because you can say "good night" when you arrive in the lab in the morning hours. We are lucky to call Max a team mate and hope he can make up for the lack of sleep after the Giant Jamboree.

Thore Bürgel

Thore, the mastermind behind DeeProtein, sometimes seems to miss lab work as he can be seen standing most of the time while he is programming. He has the great ability to improve the mood in the lab even if that means short-term productivity decreases. Luckily for the software team he decided to focus on the bioinformatics behind our project. He contributed thousands lines of code and produced terabytes of the finest data.
Thore is also the guy with the second worst possible taste in pizza toppings (spinach and egg, worst would be pineapple). He is always entertaining the team with a best-of-its-kind selection of project-related memes. Unbelievable for the rest of the team, he maintained some kind of day and night rhythm, which may be connected to him surpassing human performance in drinking the strongest espressi possible.

Pauline Pfuderer

Just starting the third semester in Molecular Biotechnology, Pauline decided to be part of our team. Whether it is about considering cloning strategies, caring about our collaborations, talking to scientists, organize our Human Practices or staying in the lab until late night – as a true all-rounder Pauline combines it all . As Pauline is quite smart, very reliable and always in a good mood, except if hungry, she definitely was one team member, we could not have missed. Although she cared about lots of different tasks she kept her great sense for humor and thereby helped a lot brightening our mood when lab work got though occasionally. She is also the person behind our PCR-Doctor-proposal offering help to other teams when they are struggling with PCRs and other cloning issues. Besides iGEM Pauline is a real gourmet that likes meeting friends in restaurants and bars located in Heidelberg’s beautiful old town.

Lukas Platz

Lukas Platz or the old-established of our team has all qualifications you need. He is not only one of the most experienced wet-lab persons in our team, but he also joined iGEM once before making him and his experiences indispensable for us. Having studied Biochemistry, he always challenges the most complex synthesis with a fable for explosives, highly toxic substances and possibly all other stuff harming you. He describes himself as "relaxed and unagitated", but is by far the only one able to manage organosilicon synthesis, transformations, cloning and writing on Facebook at the same time. In his free time, he plays the guitar, spends time with his friends or eats too much Pizza Hawaii (as the author of this text suggests that this is ridiculous as fruits do not belong on a pizza). He is a really funny guy and we are very happy to have him.


Prof. Dr. Roland Eils

2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 - The history of the University of Heidelberg in the international genetically engineered machine competition is irreversible connected with one name - Professor Roland Eils. It´s due to him and his engagement that enthusiastic and motivated students from interdisciplinary courses have the possibility to realize their own project ideas in a professional and educational environment. Heading the iGEM Heidelberg team for the seventh time, he provides the laboratories, much of the required equipment, as well as the sponsoring of our traveling and participation costs. We cannot thank him enough for his passion and his help. Thank you very much!
The research interests of Prof. Eils lies in the field of the analysis and mathematical modeling of complex pathways in molecular biology. He can look back at a very successful career, as he is the head of the Department of Theoretical Bioinformatics in the DKFZ and working on computational oncology. Furthermore, he is the director of the Department of Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics of the IPMB at the University of Heidelberg. Alongside Prof. Kräusslich and Prof. Wolfrum, he is one of the three founding directors of the BioQuant, Heidelberg’s system biology center. He has won numerous awards; in particular he has been awarded the Biofuture prize (approx. 1.2 Million €), the Microsoft Research Award "Computational Tools for Advancing Science" and the Heidelberg Molecular Life Sciences Award (100,000€ shared with Hellmut Augustin). Roland has been a major driver behind Germany’s highly reputed systems biology community. His engagement in the emerging field of Synthetic Biology underlines the need for tight interdisciplinary work between experimentalists and theoreticians.

Dr. Irina Lehmann

Irina Lehmann received her PhD degree in Immunology form Leipzig University in 1991. Since 2003, she is head of the Department of Environmental Immunology and Core Facility Studies at the Helmholz Centre of Environmental Research in Leipzig. With her research group she investigates the influence of life style and environmental factors on immune system development in early infancy and consequences for disease risk later in children’s life. Thereby, she is focusing on asthma & allergy development in children.
In her spare time Irina always shares her thrill with the iGEM Team Heidelberg. Finally, in 2015 she joined iGEM Heidelberg as a supervisor for the first time. Two years later the iGEM Team Heidelberg 2017 again benefits from her huge knowledge in molecular biology and her experienced advice for our wet lab experiments. On top, her input for good Human Practice work inspired us and forwarded our Human Practice project from the very beginning of the this year's iGEM season. Her optimistic and helpful input during team meetings motivated us to high performance.

Dr. Dominik Niopek

  • 2008 - participated as a student in Heidelberg´s first iGEM Team
  • 2010 - participated as a student..again!
  • 2012 - Supervisor of the High school team Heidelberg.
  • 2013 - PhD supervisor of the 2013 iGEM Team Heidelberg.
  • 2017 - Principal investigator of the 2017 iGEM Team Heidelberg.
Nearly as often as Prof. Eils is the head of the iGEM Teams of Heidelberg, Dominik had a finger in the pie, too. Already described as the "iGEM veteran" by 2013 iGEM Heidelberg team, Dominik has been an image of successful scientific research in relation to iGEM. Himself would definitively describe each iGEM experience as an exciting and enriching experience, with every participation being absolutely unique.
Nine years after his first contact with iGEM he is back at iGEM Heidelberg again - this time as our PI and group leader of the Synthetic Biology in the laboratories headed by Prof. Eils. Boy, oh boy - what a career! And boy, oh boy - what a PI! Visiting our lab every day, he influences our project in every discussion. With his calm, positive and analyzed way of thinking, he always focus the important problems and moreover tries to find the best solutions as soon as possible. Having an sympathetic ear for every problem, he has greatest impact on our project overall. I could not imagine any better PI than him. His way to express critic and reflecting ideas is outstanding and makes him incredibly important for our team (Editor´s note: I would like to have this characteristic as well :D ).

At this point we want to say thank you Dominik, for your enormous effort, you time and all the nerves our discussions and problems must have cost you!!

Carolin Schmelas

Working with Carolin, or Caro as we are calling her, always is a true pleasure! As a doctoral student in the field of gene therapy and studying psychology at the same time, she was the one supervisor to go to for getting good advice, no matter if it was about planning experiments, developing surveys and questionnaires or personal issues. There’s no doubt – if you consult Caro you’ll soon come back with a helpful plan and lots of creative ideas on how to go ahead with your subproject. But it was not only that - as a former member of the iGEM Team Heidelberg 2014, Caro also knows very well about how the whole competition runs. She helped a lot in discussing general questions and leading our research in certain directions - from the beginning to the very end of our project. Last but not least, we really appreciate Caro as a supervisor due to her endless positive spirit and energy.

Mareike Hoffmann

Friendly, constructively argueing and attending every meeting with a "predcel" to eat in her hands - That's how to describe Mareike, one of our beloved team advisors, the best. Mareike, as she has lots of own research to do, was not the advisor to consult with the boring everyday issues, but was indeed indispensable to our team as her immense experience in synthetic biology was needed when discussing problems no solution was found for immediately. She always listened carefully and provided great ideas on how to improve several parts of our project. Furthermore, her calm and reflective nature helped when lots of others were quite in a hurry, especially in the end. All in all, we are really grateful Mareike shared her time and precious ideas with us.

Max Waldhauer

Max is the only advisor who is strong enough to carry half the team concurrently. He is a Master student in Molecular Biotechnology and being an iGEM 2014 veteran, he has a lot of experience according the iGEM competition which helped us a when it came to time-management questions. Not only we had lots of fun with Max, who was always willing to fight back our tickle attacks and thereby spreading good mood, but also he patiently answered all our questions when we were facing hard problems in the wet-lab. No matter if it was past midnight, Max was always motivated to help us understand our problems and pointed us a way to think of possible solutions. With Max's advice we learned to find solutions ourselves which is even more valuable than just getting the right answer for a technical question. In the last few weeks before Wiki freeze, when we sometimes forgot to sleep and eat, he took care of us by cooking French pancakes for the whole iGEM team.

Daniel Heid

Daniel, an iGEM veteran of the Heidelberg 2015 Team, just finished his bachelor studies in Molecular Biotechnologies. He supported us with his outstanding wet lab experience and his extraordinary good sense of business, which brought the team a lot forward. His experience in chemistry questions helped us a lot when we were facing problems in the organosilicon project and his knowledge according safety issues when handling toxic substances helped us to overcome challenges. Besides his engagement for iGEM he is also supervisor of a school research team in his home district Ortenau, where he arouses interest in natural sciences and encourages new talents. In his free time Daniel is a passionate cook and gourmet, who can conjure up the most delicious dishes. He is probably the reason why we didn’t starve during iGEM as he was always willing to provide us with his tasty food when the amount of lab work was crazy.

Stefan Holderbach

Stefan is a true mulittalent. Whatever the topic, whatever the question, he is able to throw in decent input and advice. There is no technique and no compuational method he doesn't know, thus it is not surprising that it often was Stefan's input, that boosted our networks and saved our wet lab assays from the doom of statistical insignificance. Besides his professional advice, Stefan also built up a reputation as god behind the lens.

Michael Jendrusch

Michael's working attitude is a nice blend of robot ethos, self-abandonment and relentlessness. Fueled by energy drinks and snacks from the sushi bar he dissects problems with chirurgic precision in no time. He more than once saved our models and algorithms from memory leaks, division errors and underflows. As he is probably the mathematically and programatically most gifted dude in the galaxy, it is not surprising that he doesn’t find it problematic to “just write your custom CUDA ops” or to work on state calculations in supraconductors besides his BSc in Physics and MSc in Bioinformatics.