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Dr Vasilis Tseliou of Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) has received a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship under the Horizon 2020 program of the EU. He will visit the group of Prof. Paolo Melchiorre at ICIQ, Spain for a two year research project. Vasilis obtained his PhD with the distinction cum laude under the supervision of Dr Francesco Mutti of the HIMS Biocatalysis group.

portrait of vasilis
Dr Vasilis Tseliou. Photo: HIMS.

At ICIQ, Vasilis will have the opportunity to perform research in the multidisciplinary BIO-LIGHT project that joins biocatalysis with photocatalysis. It is expected that this will provide possibilities for developing stereoselective processes driven by light that cannot be realized otherwise. In fact, the combination of ‘enzymes and light' is an emerging field in which most of the potential and possibilities are still untapped. It could significantly advance the development of a more responsible and sustainable stereoselective synthesis while strengthening the chemistry toolbox to better face the challenges of modern organic chemistry.

'New-to-nature' enantioselective radical reactions

The group of Prof. Paolo Melchiorre at ICIQ in Tarragona, Spain, is a frontrunner in research to the discovery of new asymmetric organocatalytic and photochemical processes to solve problems in synthetic methodology. There, Vasilis will create new enzymes via enzyme engineering and will explore the potential of native intermediates in the enzymes’ active sites. The aim is to create an excited state upon light absorption that enables new-to-nature enantioselective radical reactions. Light will be used to elicit mechanistic divergence within enzymes with an established ground-state reactivity, thus allowing them to catalyse completely different processes than those for which they evolved. The collaboration with an international pharma company (Bayer AG) will facilitate the development of photoenzymatic processes yielding chiral molecules adorned with biologically relevant scaffolds.

About the fellowship

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) is the European Union’s flagship program to help develop training networks, promote staff exchanges and fund mobility programmes with an international flavour. It is part of the Horizon 2020 framework programme for research and innovation. Part of MSCA is the fellowship program to support outstanding postdoctoral researchers to fund research in a wide range of disciplines. With finance totalling €328 million, in this round of proposals the EU supports 1630 experienced post-doctoral researchers working at top universities and research organizations in Europe and the rest of the world, as well as in the private sector. Out of 11573 project proposals submitted, this represents a success rate of 14%.


Website research group Prof. Paolo Melchiorre at ICIQ.
Website HIMS biocatalysis research group.