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Home > Introduction of our tenure-track faculties > Vavricka Christopher

Introduction of our tenure-track faculties

Vavricka Christopher

Affiliation Institute of Engineering
Division Division of Biotechnology and Life Science
Research field Medicinal Enzyme Engineering
Keyword(S) Enzyme engineering, In silico enzyme design, Biosynthesis, Synthetic biology
Research experience

・Oct. 2009-Oct. 2012: Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Microbiology, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
・Oct. 2012-Mar. 2014: Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing Institutes of Life Science, Associate Professor
・Nov. 2014-Oct. 2016: Okayama University, Faculty of Agriculture, JSPS Postdoctoral Research Fellow
・Nov. 2016-Feb. 2020: Kobe University, Graduate School of Science, Technology and Innovation, Assistant Professor
・Mar. 2020-Nov. 2022: Kobe University, Graduate School of Science, Technology and Innovation, Associate Professor
・Dec. 2022-Present: Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Department of Biotechnology and Life Science, Associate Professor

Educational background

・Aug. 2000-Dec. 2004: B.S. Student, Virginia Tech, College of Science, Department of Psychology
・Aug. 2005-Aug. 2009: Ph.D. Student, Virginia Tech, College of Agriculture and Life Science, Department of Biochemistry


* The latest information is shown at the member's website.
・Dec. 2013: Beijing Institutes of Life Sciences (BIOLS) Publication Award
・Nov. 2013: GENEWIZ Jin Weizhi Publication Award
・Nov. 2013: Beijing Leadman Biochemistry Co., Ltd. Annual Scientific Achievement Award
・May. 2013: Beijing ZEPING Bioscience & Technology Co., Ltd. Publication Award
・Oct. 2011: Zhou Jiachi Virology Publication Award
・Oct. 2011: Qiang Yao Publication Award

Selected papers and publications

* The latest information is shown at the member's website.
・Vavricka C.J.*,#, Takahashi S.#, Watanabe N., Takenaka M., Matsuda M., Yoshida, T., Kiyota, H., Li, J., Minami, H., Ishii, J., Tsuge, K., Araki, M.*, Kondo, A., Hasunuma, T.* (2022/03) Machine learning discovery of missing links that mediate alternative branches to plant alkaloids, Nature Communications, 13, 1405. (*corresponding authors, #first authors)

Vavricka, C.J., Hasunuma, T., Kondo, A. (2019/07) Dynamic metabolomics for engineering biology: accelerating learning cycles for bioproduction, Trends in Biotechnology, 38, 68-82.

Vavricka, C.J., Yoshida, T., Kuriya, Y., Takahashi, S., Ogawa, T., Ono, F., Agari, K., Kiyota, H., Li, J., Ishii, J., Tsuge, K., Minami, H., Araki, M., Hasunuma, T., Kondo, A. (2019/05) Mechanism-based tuning of insect 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde synthase for synthetic bioproduction of benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, Nature Communications, 10, 2015.

Vavricka, C.J.*, Muto, C., Hasunuma, T., Kimura, Y., Araki, M., Wu, Y., Gao, G.F., Ohrui, H., Izumi, M., Kiyota, H.* (2017/08) Synthesis of sulfo-sialic acid analogues: potent neuraminidase inhibitors in regards to anomeric functionality, Scientific Reports, 7, 8239. (*corresponding authors)

Vavricka, C.J.#, Liu, Y.#, Kiyota, H., Sriwilaijaroen, N., Qi, J., Tanaka, Y., Wu, Y., Li, Q., Li, Y., Yan, J., Suzuki, Y., Gao, G.F. (2013/02) Influenza neuraminidase operates via a nucleophilic mechanism and can be targeted by covalent inhibitors, Nature Communications, 4, 1491. (#first authors)

Research Description

Computationally-driven enzyme engineering and metabolic engineering can now enable the sustainable production of virtually any desired chemical product. This synthetic biology research trend has exploded as a future hope to improve the production of industrial chemicals, with many environmental and economic advantages over traditional chemical methods. Accordingly, my lab will develop computational approaches for the discovery and engineering of specialized enzymes that can extend metabolic pathways to produce valuable chemicals. Some of our target compounds include carbohydrate analogues and aromatic metabolites including plant alkaloids.

About TUAT's tenure-track program

I selected this tenure track program because it provides an opportunity to establish a world-class biotechnology laboratory in a top Japanese University. Most importantly, the students at TUAT are very hard working, talented, and intelligent, and so I would like to help them to become the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Future aspirations

1) Develop valuable biosynthesis technology to sustain and grow my laboratory
2) Develop and apply in silico enzyme design methods
3) Train students that can achieve their career goals
4) Make new breakthroughs in the basic understanding of enzyme biochemistry
5) Develop new medicines that can impact major diseases and will make it to the clinic